Library and Archives Canada
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Genealogy and Family History

How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records

Start by consulting What to Search Topics and Search for Ancestors. Each database includes a comprehensive Online help page, which contains helpful information about the records, the database and how to consult the actual records.

Once you have identified a specific item held by Library and Archives Canada, you can access it by one of the means described below.

Note that many sources are not indexed by name. Unfortunately, Library and Archives Canada does not have the staff resources to do searches for you.

Consult the Records Onsite

You are welcome to visit Library and Archives of Canada at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Our consultants can assist you with archival and published sources.

Archival records on microfilm, such as census and passenger lists, and many genealogy reference books, are available on a self-serve basis.

Borrow Material through Inter-Institutional Loan

Most microfilm reels and published sources may be borrowed for your use by any institution (libraries, archives and resource centres) within and outside Canada. Requests for loan must be submitted by the borrowing institution. An online Loan Request form is available for your institution's use.

Loan requests should be submitted by the institution and must include the microfilm reel number or the title and author in the case of books. Note that restricted material, archival documents that have not been microfilmed and reference books cannot be borrowed.

Borrowing institutions equipped with a reader-printer are authorized to make copies of pages from our microfilm on behalf of their patrons.

Consult Microfilms in Other Institutions

Many libraries and archives, including the Family History Library, hold microfilm copies of our archival records, such as census and passenger lists.

Hire a Free-Lance Researcher

If you cannot visit Library and Archives Canada, and the material of interest to you is not online and not available for loan, you can hire a local researcher to search the records on your behalf.

Professional genealogical researchers can also be found through the following organizations.

For local research, we recommend that you contact the local genealogical society. Most offer research services for a fee or provide a list of free-lance researchers. You can also use AVITUS to find other genealogical societies.

Order Copies of Documents

If you have identified a specific page or file of interest, you can request photocopies. Note that you must provide an exact reference.

Access Restrictions

Some Government of Canada records are closed and must be reviewed under the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Records created by individuals or organizations may be restricted by the donor. Specific access details are noted in the references in the General Inventory and Government of Canada Files databases.