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Friday, August 20, 2010

Finding an Early Ontario Ancestor's Birth Records

John's question was about birth records in Ontario before 1860:
I am researching my family in the UK and have found two ancestors apparently born in London, Canada West. They are :-

Hannah Olivant born about between 1854 and 1857 and John Olivant born between 1856 and 1858. (From UK census information). Parents Isaac Olivant and Ann Olivant.

Is it possible that their baptism records have survived and if so could you advise me on the best place to look for them?
ASK OLIVE TREE Answer: Dear John, Canada West became Ontario but Ontario did not begin civil registration until 1860 [sorry this is a typo, the year was 1869!]. That means you must search church records for your ancestors' baptism.

The next problem however is to determine IF the necessary church records exist! Your first step is to note your ancestors' religion, then find the relevant churches for London Ontario that have surviving records.

Next you need to know what District London was in for the years you need. Canada West was divided into 20 Districts and within those Districts were various counties. See the linked teext for Canada West to determine the district and county name that you need.

Having armed yourself with the needed facts (religon, district and county name) you can have a look to see what church records exist between the years 1854 and 1858

You might check the Ontario Archives and London Public Library for help with finding available Church Records

You should also have a look at the Ancestor Birth Record Finder for ideas on other places to search.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I have at least one person born about 1861 in Ontario, but so far, have not been able to find a civil registration. I'm not 100% on the religion, which is why I haven't attempted to find church records. But now I have some ideas once I figure out the religion. Thanks, Lorine!

  2. @Julie - if your Ontario ancestors made it to an Ontario census, religion is noted. Fingers crossed for you! Maybe you'd like to write me privately with the name and details? I would love to help if I can, even if just to direct you to appropriate sources. Civil Reg. didn't begin until 1869 in Ontario so pre 1869 you won't find one. Even several years after 1869 many people didn't bother registering, they didn't like the new rules apparently! Lorine

  3. Since I'm having a heck of a time with replying in FB, I thought I'd post my response here.

    I knew it went into effect around that time, but after seeing 1860, I added it to my notes to recheck my sources. Thanks for informing me about the typo...I will adjust my notes. As a side note, I did try delayed registrations, with no luck. I think church records are my best bet.