Are you researching ancestors who lived in the Northwest Territories? On this page, you will find information about records held at Library and Archives Canada and the NWT Archives. There are also links to online resources and to other institutions, societies and government agencies.
On July 15, 1870, the Northwest Territories became an official territory of Canada.
- The first Indigenous peoples were the Dene. They were followed by other First Nations, Inuvialuit and Métis Nation peoples.
- Centuries of European exploration in the area led to the establishment of fur trade posts in the 1800s.
- Areas of the Northwest Territories were gradually removed to become parts of other jurisdictions: Saskatchewan and Alberta (1905), Yukon Territory (1898) and Nunavut (1999). Other areas were appended to Manitoba (1880, 1912), Ontario (1912) and Quebec (1912).
- There were many boundary changes over the years. To learn more and to view the boundary maps, visit
Territorial Evolution of the Northwest Territories.
Civil registration (birth, marriage and death records)
Civil registration is a territorial jurisdiction. Records are held at the
Registrar General of Vital Statistics of the Government of Northwest Territories. The earliest records are from 1925.
Adoption and divorce:
Courts and criminal records
Courts of the Northwest Territories
The NWT Archives holds the following collection: Canada: Bureau of Northwest Territories and Yukon Affairs fonds, 1921–1953. The fonds includes records of criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as records of accidents and missing persons.
The Land Titles Office in the Northwest Territories is responsible for the registration of ownership to privately owned surveyed land. For more information, see
Wills and estate records
The administration of wills and estates is a territorial responsibility.
Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories has jurisdiction over probate and estate administration.
The NWT Archives holds some files of correspondence on the Administration of Deceaseds' Estates 1926–1948.
Public Trustee Office.
Library and Archives Canada
To find out about other types of records for genealogy research, visit our
Genealogy and Family History pages, including
See also how to access the records.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Fort Good Hope Mission Fonds (R559-0-2-E, microfilm M-8718)
This fonds is a register of genealogies of 309 Dene from the Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Espérance mission at Fort Good Hope. The register contains a nominal index. It also includes the names of people who were confirmed between 1861 and 1948. Read more about this
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Record Group 85)
In the Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch series, there are some files relating to individuals. You can explore that series in
Collection Search. Enter RG85 and a surname.
NWT Archives holds some sources for genealogy research. Consult the following links: