Nova Scotia Archives

Church Records at Nova Scotia Archives

Exploring this Resource
  • This is a database only — the actual church registers have NOT been digitized and are NOT available online. Why not? (We get asked this a lot....) The information contained in the microfilmed records remains the property of the parish or congregation which initially made them available for filming. The Parish Records Microfilm Collection at Nova Scotia Archives is therefore available to the public strictly as a courtesy service. Nova Scotia Archives does not have the authority to digitize and make these records available online.
  • The Parish Registers Microfilm Collection held at Nova Scotia Archives is NOT available via interlibrary loan. Researchers must visit the Public Archives Site, 6016 University Avenue, Halifax, NS, to view the records. If you're not able to visit Nova Scotia Archives in person, you may want to Hire a Researcher to assist you.
  • Most church registers cannot be photocopied or otherwise reproduced, unless you have obtained written permission from the church in question (remember, the information contained in the records remains the property of the church concerned....). However, limited photocopying (i.e. individual entries) is permitted from 18th and 19th century Anglican Church registers, and from Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax registers prior to 1901.
Using the Database
  • Records for 512 distinct parishes, congregations, pastoral charges and missions are described in this database.
  • The Search Box enables you to explore the database using various options — name of the community, name of the parish or church, name of the broader denomination (Methodist, United, Roman Catholic, etc.).
  • Each separate entry identifies beginning and end dates for the baptismal, marriage and burial registers for the congregation. Many registers have gaps. Occasionally the records held at Nova Scotia Archives for a particular church do not include the vital registers; if this is the case, those areas of the entry are left blank.
  • The 'Other' area within each entry provides information on the availability of additional related records on film, such as minutes, confirmation registers, lists of parishioners, etc.
  • The 'Note' area at the bottom of each entry frequently identifies peculiarities in the records, provides additional information, and/or lists communities included within the geographic range of the parish or congregation. In the early days, resident clergy frequently maintained a circuit ministry, travelling to distant points within their parish on a more-or-less regular schedule, in order to preach, confirm new members and perform the sacraments, including baptism and marriage.
  • A number of microfilms have restricted access and you will need written permission from the church in question before you can view these records. Restrictions are highlighted in the 'Note' area of the particular entry.
  • If the available records for the community in which you are interested appear to begin too late for your research, check the records for the adjoining communities. For example, if you're looking for Anglicans in Ecum Secum, the parish records begin in 1910 — the earlier records are in either Port Dufferin Parish (from 1847) or Liscomb Parish (from 1852); still earlier records can be found in Ship Harbour Parish (from 1841) and before that, in St. Paul's, Halifax.
  • A previous arrangement-and-description project at Nova Scotia Archives has enabled us to provide expanded information for each of the 118 Anglican parishes included in the database. Click on the 'For further information...' link located at the bottom of each of these entries.
Some Additional Information
  • The Parish Records Microfilm Collection at Nova Scotia Archives started in 1954, when the Archives began using a newly-installed microfilm camera to film records borrowed from various churches around the province — particularly their registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. The intention was: 1) to provide participating churches with a security copy of their vital records in case of fire or loss; and 2) to provide reference copies on film 'that...could be consulted in the Archives' by researchers.
  • It's important to remember that there is NO government legislation requiring congregations to permit Nova Scotia Archives to microfilm their records. Participation in this outreach service was voluntary; the registers were borrowed through the goodwill and concern of individual clergy who wanted to see the records in their care preserved. Once microfilmed, the original records were returned to the lending church.
  • Today, the original records are either still held by the local church or have been transferred to the appropriate denominational archives. See the Regional Church Archives contact list for more information.
  • There are three Roman Catholic dioceses in Nova Scotia — Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth. The Parish Registers Microfilm Collection at Nova Scotia Archives includes many registers for the Archdiocese of Halifax, but very few for the dioceses of Antigonish and Yarmouth.
  • The United Church of Canada (UCC) was formed in 1925 by the official union of Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational congregations across Canada. Consequently, pre-1925 registers for the three predecessor denominations are usually included with those for the successor United Church congregation — i.e. if a congregation began as Methodist, then became UCC, all its early records were likely subsumed within the new identity.
  • If the majority of a congregation that was originally Presbyterian chose to become part of the United Church of Canada in 1925, the records will usually be held by the successor United Church congregation. Many Presbyterians, however, voted in 1925 to remain Presbyterian ('The Presbyterian Church in Canada'); the records for these 'continuing' congregations may pre-date church union. In some instances, Presbyterians were left church-less when their congregations voted to accept union; these remnant parishioners often formed new congregations, the records for which will date only from 1925.



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