Series GR-2962 - Marriage registrations

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Marriage registrations

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  • textual record
  • microform

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  • 1872-1943 (Creation)
    British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency

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Physical description

109 reels of microfilm : 16 mm ; negative

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Biographical history

The British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency (BCVSA) is responsible for determining and registering births, deaths and marriages and for issuing certificates related to these events. The agency also performs civil marriage ceremonies through private marriage commissioners, issues marriage licences, administers legal changes of name, files and searches for wills notices, performs genealogical tracing, and maintains a special purpose registry for registering cases of congenital anomalies and various handicapping conditions. In addition, the agency provides statistical and research services for various government programs, universities and special interest research groups. The registration of births, deaths and marriages in British Columbia was entrusted to the Registrar General of Titles under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act of 1872 (SBC 1872, c. 26). Until 1911 the Registrar reported to the Department of the Attorney General, except for the years 1899 to 1901 when the office was under the Department of the Provincial Secretary. In 1911 the Registrar General of Titles became the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages under the Provincial Board of Health, which reported to the Department of the Provincial Secretary. The Vital Statistics Branch was created within the Provincial Board of Health under the control of the Provincial Health Officer in 1933, and was renamed the Division of Vital Statistics in 1936. The Division of Vital Statistics became the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency in 1996. The Provincial Board of Health was removed from the Department of the Provincial Secretary to become the Department of Health and Welfare in 1946. It was subsequently renamed the Department of Health and Hospital Insurance (1959), the Department of Health (1973), and the Ministry of Health (1976). The Division of Vital Statistics remained part of this organization throughout these changes.

Custodial history

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 ( 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.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The microfilm copies of the records were transferred to the archives from the Vital Statistics Agency and made available when they had been released for public reference, 75 years after the date of marriage. The first transfer occurred on 2 January 1997 and comprised 29 reels of microfilm. No microfilm exists in this series for registrations beyond 1943.


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 (

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.

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There are no access restrictions.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

See GR-2985 (1872-1942) and GR-3033 (1872-1929) for indexes on microfilm and microfiche respectively. Search the Genealogy Search database ( for marriage records older than 75 years and dating back to 1872.

Associated materials

For pre-1872 marriage records see GR-3044.

Related materials


Further accruals of marriage registration records on microfilm are not expected. Records are released annually in digital format and made available on the Genalogy Search database.

General note

Archives code(s): B11367-B11391, B12904-B12907, B13743-B13801, B13888-B13909.

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Accession number(s): 89-0256; 91-3839; 91-3870

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