Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beginners Genealogy Course - Civil Registration

I have heard Alison Hare quite often in the past, so when I saw that she was going to be one of the presenters at the recent Beginners Course in Genealogy held in Ottawa, I was delighted!

She is very good, and her lectures are always interesting. I learn quite a bit from her, as she always has little nuggets of information in her talks - but you have to listen for them.

Her lecture this time was on Civil Registration - the government's way of making sure that every individual in Canada is registered when either a birth, marriage, or death takes place.

According to Alison, these BMDs (birth, marriage, and death records) are the "main building blocks of family history".

In Canada, civil registration is a provincial responsibility. Six out of ten provinces now have them online (the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) but she says you can't do a really good job online unless you go to the Family History Library (FHL) in your local area and look through their books for church registrations, too. The dates vary, as well, when it was required for registration.

How reliable are the BMDs? How must trust can we place in the records?

Alison says that depends on who was registering the event, and when the event was registered.

The event—say, a birth announcement—that was registered by the father a few days after the event occurred would be more likely to hold the correct day that the child was born - than one registered a few months or years after the child was born.

And a close family member would be more likely to remember the true date of the event rather than a member of the clergy or a local doctor.

So take these things into consideration when reading a birth, marriage, or death certificate.

Also, Alison says to remember that these records are not complete, and if you cannot find someone, then maybe their first or last names are misspelled, the records themselves may be incomplete, or perhaps indexes to the records may be incomplete, especially the online ones.

She says to extend the time frame in which you look for a registration - the people may have moved or neglected to register the event.

Alison is a Certified Genealogist. Her profile is on the Association of Professional Genealogists website at Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

Tomorrow, I will cover the presentation about Local Resources with Terry Findley.