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Genealogy and Family History

Where to Search: Places

British Columbia

Historical Notes



The Atlas of Canada.

The first permanent European settlement in British Columbia was associated with the fur trade in the early nineteenth century.

In 1849, Vancouver Island became a British colony, and four years later, in 1853, it numbered 450 inhabitants. The mainland at that time belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company.

The discovery of gold in the Fraser Valley, in 1858, led to an upsurge in the population. The colony of British Columbia was established after the Hudson's Bay Company ceded its lands to the Crown.

In 1866, the colonies on Vancouver Island and in British Columbia merged.

In 1871, British Columbia became a Canadian province. In the late-nineteenth century, Chinese immigrants arrived to work as labourers on the railway, which was completed in 1885.

Researchers interested in ancestors who lived in British Columbia use the main types of genealogical sources. A Guide
[] provides more information about the genealogical resources available in the British Columbia Archives.

Provincial Websites

British Columbia Archives

British Columbia Genealogical Society


Greater Victoria Public Library

Memory B.C.

Surrey Public Library, Cloverdale Branch

Vancouver Public Library

The official provincial government Web site
[] contains useful information about the province and its historic records.

The Canadian Encyclopedia Online
[] allows you to learn more about the history, geography and people of British Columbia.

Indexes for birth (1872-1901), marriage (1872-1926) and death (1872-1981) registers are available online at the British Columbia Archives site.

Many libraries hold reference books, local histories, family histories and other books on genealogy. Library and Archives Canada allows you to Browse Lists of Canadian Library Web Sites and Catalogues by province.

The sections on What to Search: Topics and Genealogy Links of this site can provide more useful information about how to do genealogical research in Alberta. You can also access databases from our Directory of Canadian Genealogical Resources - AVITUS.

To Learn More

You can also consult the following books:

Genealogical Sources in British Columbia, by Barbara Monasch, 1996. Genealogical Resources for British Columbians, British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency, 1997. Finding your ancestors in British Columbia ..., by David M. Jackson, 2000.