British Columbia

On July 20, 1871, British Columbia became a Canadian province.

Before that:

  • The first peoples were Indigenous.
  • European settlement began in the 1800s and was associated with the fur trade.
  • British Columbia became a British colony in 1849, except for Vancouver island, which was granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company.
  • In 1858, the discovery of gold in the Fraser Valley led to increased population growth, along with mining and forestry.
  • Vancouver Island became part of British Columbia in 1866.

Civil registration (birth, marriage and death records)

Civil registration is a provincial jurisdiction. In British Columbia, it began in 1872, although there are some earlier records.

The British Columbia Archives (Royal BC Museum) holds the following records:

  • births (1854 to1903)
  • marriages (1872 to 1943)
  • deaths (1872 to 1998)
  • colonial marriages (1859 to 1872)
  • baptisms (1836 to 1888)

The records are indexed and are also being digitized in their online database: Genealogy - General Search

Some of those records are also available on FamilySearch: British Columbia Indexed Historical Records

If the years of interest to you have not yet been transferred to the BC Archives, you must request copies of records from the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency.

You might also be interested in:

Criminal records

Land records

The province is divided into districts.

Library and Archives Canada holds the Letters Patent issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia, 1870 to 1930. Those records can be searched in our database: Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930

The BC Archives holds many records, including Crown grants, land sales, pre-emption (homestead) records, etc. For more information, see British Columbia Archives: Quick guide to land records (PDF 108 KB)

Some of those records are digitized on FamilySearch. They are not indexed by name, so on that page, scroll down to the section called Image Only Historical Records.

See also:


The administration of wills and estates is a provincial jurisdiction.

Other resources

Visit The Commons website to find a public library in British Columbia.

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