In cemeteries across the country, tombstones and headstones serve as an historical record of the people buried there. Dates of birth and death are usually inscribed on the stones, providing descendants with crucial links to their ancestors. Although sometimes only the year is indicated, that is still a vital clue to further research. Additional details are sometimes included, such as birthplace, military service or relationships to other family members.
Cemeteries are maintained by churches, private companies, municipalities or families. Churches and privately owned cemeteries usually maintain burial registers, which often contain more detailed information than the tombstones.
Genealogists will not find a tombstone for every ancestor. Some people were too poor to afford a stone for their family member's grave. In other cases, the inscriptions on the stones have been eroded through time, the stones are missing or the cemetery no longer exists.
Many Genealogical Societies and genealogists in Canada have undertaken projects to copy the information from tombstones in cemeteries. The tombstone inscriptions are transcribed and compiled in indexed publications.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada holds many copies of cemetery indexes. Many of these publications are available through inter-institutional loan.
Search for cemetery publications in AMICUS using subject terms such as:
Library and Archives Canada also holds some archived copies of Quebec and Ontario cemetery recordings (MG 8 G54 and MG 9 D7), some of which were produced by the Ontario Genealogical Society and microfilmed by the Archives of Ontario. Our copies of those microfilm reels are only available for onsite consultation.
For Nova Scotia, Library and Archives Canada holds some cemetery recordings for Horton Township, Kings County, 1767-1973 (MG 9 B7, microfilm reel H-1806).
Research in Other Institutions
Indexes can also be found in the collections of some Provincial Archives. For example, many of the published indexes for Ontario cemeteries have been deposited at the Archives of Ontario and microfilmed, making them available through inter-institutional loan from that institution.
Search for other cemetery records in CAIN [www.archivescanada.ca/]. Enter keywords such as a place name and the words "cemetery" or "cemeteries."
If you do not know in which cemetery your ancestor is buried, you may wish to start by searching the following databases:
Use AVITUS to find other Web sites about cemeteries.