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Upper and Lower Canada Marriage Bonds

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Background

Many indexes exist for Catholic marriages that took place in Quebec and in Ontario. It is more difficult to trace a marriage that took place in a Protestant church.

Marriage bonds were prepared only for Protestant marriages by licence. The groom was required to enter into a bond with one or two people (sureties) who knew him and who were prepared to guarantee to the Crown that no legal impediment to the marriage existed. After obtaining the bond, a licence was issued and the marriage took place a few days later.

Library and Archives Canada holds:

2960 marriage bonds for Lower Canada (Quebec) issued between 1779 and 1858

7899 marriage bonds for Upper Canada (Ontario) issued between 1803 and 1865

Unfortunately, marriage licences issued prior to 1867 were not retained.

The marriage bonds include:

  • Name of the future husband
  • Name of the future wife
  • Their place of residence
  • Names of the sureties
  • Date and place where the bond was issued

Since the marriage bond was usually issued a few days prior to the actual wedding ceremony, it can be an indication of the date and place of marriage.

These bonds are available on microfilm. However, please note that these records are sometimes difficult to read because of the poor quality of the original documents and microfilms.

Database

This research tool provides access to 10826 references to the marriage bonds held at Library and Archives Canada. Each bond was consulted in order to verify the names of the future husband and wife and the date of the bond.

The content of the database entries reflects the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated. Most of the marriage bonds consist of one-page printed form in English.

Important note: Given that some of the original documents are very difficult to read, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.

Search Screen

The search screen allows you to search by the name of the future husband or wife. You can enter a surname and/or given name.

Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only.

Women are identified by maiden name, if the maiden name was provided in the marriage bond.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Results List

Your search results will be posted as a summary list from which you will be able to obtain more detailed descriptions.

The results list contains the following fields:

  • Name of Future Husband (surname and given name)
  • Name of Future Wife (surname and given name)
  • Source (either Upper Canada Marriage Bonds or Lower Canada Marriage Bonds)

You can export the results to a diskette or to your own computer

Click on the underlined name of the future husband for more detailed descriptions of items of interest to you.

Detailed Description

The detailed description contains the following fields:

  • Name of Future Husband (surname and given name)
  • His place of residence
  • Name of Future Wife (surname and given name)
  • Her place of residence
  • Remarks
  • Reference
  • Volume
  • Bond Number
  • Date
  • Microfilm Reel Number

You can obtain more details on marriage bonds by clicking on Fonds Description. You can view the corresponding page by clicking on "View image".

How to Obtain Copies of Marriage Bonds

You can print the images or save the images on your own computer. To print a copy of a scanned image, right click on the image, select copy, then paste to your word processing software, using the Edit: Paste Special Feature: Device Independent Bitmap.

Library and Archives Canada also holds the original marriage bonds available on microfilm. Each bond consists of a pre-printed form in English of one page. Some institutions in Canada hold copies of these microfilms. Use the following Access link for other options such as obtaining photocopies.


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Other Resources

Some provincial and territorial archives also hold marriage bonds and licences. Consult Marriages to obtain more information on additional resources to find marriage bonds and licences.