Title and statement of responsibility area
General material designation
- textual record
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
Level of description
Edition statement of responsibility
Class of material specific details area
Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
Statement of coordinates (cartographic)
Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency
Physical description area
Publisher's series area
Title proper of publisher's series
Parallel titles of publisher's series
Other title information of publisher's series
Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series
Numbering within publisher's series
Note on publisher's series
Archival description area
Name of creator
Scope and content
Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths began in BC in September 1872. The marriage registration records consist of completed statements regarding marriages submitted to District Registrars, and registered by the Director of Vital Statistics. The series includes: regular marriage registrations; delayed registrations of marriage, maintained as a separate series from 1933 to 1977; registrations of Indigenous marriages collected by Indian Agents and maintained as a separate series from 1917 to 1956; and registrations of Doukhobour marriages, maintained as a separate series from 1959 to 1982.
Records are released annually, seventy-five (75) years after the date of marriage. Microfilm reels for marriages are no longer being released, although marriage registration records for 1934 and later have been released as digital files and are accessed through the Genealogy Search database (http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Genealogy). Many of the pre-1934 registrations have been digitized as well and are also on the database.
The records contain: names of bride and groom; ages; marital status at time of marriage (bachelor, spinster, widow or widower, and later, divorced); profession; residence; place of birth; names of parents; profession of father; religious denomination of bride and groom; whether the marriage took place by banns or with a marriage licence; place and date of marriage; church or rite by which the couple was married; names and residences of witnesses; and name of person performing the wedding. Registration forms used by Indian Agents included tribal affiliation.
Although extensive, the records are far from complete. In addition to the legislated exclusion of “Chinese” and “Indians” between 1872 and 1888 and of any Indigenous person in BC defined as an “Indian” under the Indian Act between 1899 and 1916, from civil registration (births, marriages and deaths), there are many marriages (as well as births and deaths), especially in the early decades, that were not registered, or the records were not sent to Victoria.
Immediate source of acquisition
From 1872 to 1944 a single sequence of volume numbers was used for marriage registrations (1 to 564). Starting in 1945 records were assigned registration numbers consisting of the year in which the marriage took place, followed by sequentially assigned numbers within each year. The registration records are always arranged in order of registration number. Individual records are found by using the index.
The volumes of Indigenous marriage registrations collected by Indian Agents (1917-1956) had their own volume numbering (1-29 from 1917-1945 and thereafter a “99” volume number for each year). For more information see the Indigenous Vital Event Registrations Guide (https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/images/indigenous_registrations_1917-1956_on_microfilm_.pdf).
There are usually two numbers stamped on the registration form. In the upper right-hand corner is a sequential number, which is the official registration number. At the centre top is a three-part hyphenated numerical code (for example 05-09-026450). The first part consists of the last two digits of the year of registration; the second part is the two-digit code for British Columbia; and the third portion is the six-digit "finding number" used to locate individual registrations. The first three digits of the "finding number" are the volume number; the last three digits are the last digits of the official registration number. Users should look for the last three digits of the official registration number within the correct volume.
Until 1934, records were arranged by geographic area or registrations district and within each area or district alphabetically by name. The listings by volume number provide the area/district names. See the finding aid for listings by reel and volume number range as well as a breakdown by volume number.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
See GR-2985 (1872-1942) and GR-3033 (1872-1929) for indexes on microfilm and microfiche respectively. Search the Genealogy Search database (http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Genealogy) for marriage records older than 75 years and dating back to 1872.