Documenting Loyalists in the Family Tree: Part 4 – Canadian Resources

Having researched all of my Canadian ancestral lines, I have to say upfront that Canadian records are much more exciting and revealing than most American records when it comes to documenting Loyalists and their families.

Aside from one foray tracing some Loyalist children who removed to Nova Scotia and Ontario, all of my personal experience with Canadian Loyalist records has been centered in New Brunswick.

Therefore, I’ll share links to websites in other provinces, but, for the most part, the majority will be related to New Brunswick, where most of the Loyalists lived at least when they first arrived.

Library and Archives Canada – During the past year, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has updated its website and migrated its collections. My favorite collection is the free census records, most of which date from 1851. I generally just use Google and enter 1851 census Canada, for example and a link appears. It’s not as easy to navigate as Ancestry, but it’s free. A word of warning – the website can be unbelievably slow in loading. I hoped that would change with the updated website, but that seems not to be. Perhaps when everything has been migrated, there will be a change.

Archives of Ontario – There are links to a few databases of records. The main one is to the Wills and Estate Files.

Quebec – BAnQ at a Glance – Scroll down to the very bottom of the page for a link to English.

Prince Edward Island Public Archives & Records Office – PEI has an online collection, the PARO Collections Database.

Nova Scotia Archives Genealogy Guide – with links on the right sidebar

The Online Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies

Atlantic Loyalist Connections Blog

Black Loyalist Heritage Centre – Nova Scotia

Black Loyalists: Our History, Our People

Black Past: Black Loyalists Exodus to Nova Scotia (1783)

Black Loyalists in New Brunswick, 1783-1854

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick is, in my opinion, the gold star winner for records online. PANB is one of my favorite websites! Its resources are terrific and the staff is wonderful replying to requests.

Click on the Federated Database Search. Next, click on the 39 databases link.

Notice in the list that there are some Charlotte County marriage records dating back to 1789 and some birth and deaths as early as 1800 and 1815.

One of the gems is the Land Records for petitions and grants, beginning in 1783. Loyalist petitioners were called “memorialists” and children of Loyalists were also eligible to apply for land grants when they reached the age of 21 years. I actually found a child’s record on which it said “your memorialist” reached the age of 21 years on 8 June last, giving me an otherwise unknown birth date.

Buried in the “Other” category are two more gems – House of Assembly Sessional Records 1786-1833 and Records of Old Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Widows. The widow of my Robert Carlisle received a pension, which not only gave me the 1834 death date in Charlotte, Maine for Robert, but also allowed me to estimate wife Catherine’s death in the early 1840s.

Another invaluable database is Daniel F. Johnson’s New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics, which date as early as 1784. Mr. Johnson at the very young age of 52 years, having made an incredible contribution to New Brunswick genealogy through the abstraction of vital record information found in early New Brunswick newspapers. I have found everything from unrecorded marriage records to Loyalist obituaries to deaths of otherwise unknown young children, including notices concerning my ancestors living across the international border in Maine.

Some of PANB’s databases are just indexes or abstracts. However, there have been a handful of times where I needed to access a record not yet digitized. A phone call to the archives brought an email link in return where I could make my request and pay a very nominal fee ($5 or $10) for the record. It never took more than 2 days for the digitized record to appear in my inbox.

To conclude, if you find a Loyalist in your family tree, there are many records, both in the United States and Canada that may tell the life story of your ancestral family.

One thought on “Documenting Loyalists in the Family Tree: Part 4 – Canadian Resources”

  1. Happy to hear Canadian records are so exciting 🙂 And yes, NB is way up there among the provinces for records online…BC is pretty good as well. I wish I had NB ancestors/collaterals!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.