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SSNS Home > Home & Community > Aboriginal Roots > External Sources

External Sources:

Aboriginal Genealogical Sources in Manitoba/Western Canada


  1. Archives of Manitoba

    See the Provincial Archives of Manitoba website for details on the Archives location. It is only a block south of The Hudson Bay Company Store at the corner of Portage and Osborne. Parking is available behind the store with entry from Osborne St. just north of the junction of Osborne St. N. and Memorial Blvd. Centrally located near main transportation arteries, city bus routes, hotels, and shopping, it is readily accessible to people in Winnipeg and from out of town.

    The Provincial Archives (PAM) contains the Manitoba Archives collection, including an excellent photo archives, and the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives (HBCA). Both are housed in the same section of the building. The Legislative Library is in another wing, and it contains microfilm copies of all of Manitoba’s newspapers.

    Before going to the archives, you can look at its resources, including the main sources for aboriginal family research online.

    Below is a list of the main sources with brief comments on their usefulness. (Check the website above for greater detail on the contents of each source).

    Red River Census Records. There are two separate sets, one provincial, one Hudson Bay Company (HBC). It is a good idea to check both in a comprehensive search.

    Native Census Records – HBCA. These are an invaluable source of information on the aboriginal peoples in HBC lands, particularly prior to missionary activity. Generally each name only the head of a family, and list by number his household (wives, sons, daughters, and “strangers”).

    Native Birth, Marriage, Death Records, 1925-1952. We have not consulted this source, so cannot comment on its usefulness. However, it looks promising, so it is worthwhile checking.

    Canada, Dept. of Indian Affairs, Treaties and Surrenders. This is generally not useful as a source of information on particular aboriginal people, but it is useful in tracing the relationship between Canada and aboriginal groups.

    Canada, Dept. of the Interior, Manitoba Half-Breed Scrip Applications. These are extremely useful sources of information for aboriginal peoples in the 19th century in what was then the Province of Manitoba. Individuals applied for money or land scrip as compensation for giving up their aboriginal rights. They had to prove their European and aboriginal ancestry in order to qualify, so the records often contain information on three generations or more. Not all people who applied were accepted, and some of those rejected later entered treaty, so if you have treaty status, don’t assume your ancestors did not apply for scrip.

    Canada, Dept. of the Interior, North-West Half-Breed Scrip Applications. This provides much the same information as the above, but it is mainly for the regions outside of the original Manitoba boundaries (i.e. Northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, etc.).

    Canada, Department of Indian Affairs, Treaty Annuity Lists. This is another useful source of information on aboriginal people after treaty. Usually the lists only include the head of family by name, then the numbers of wives, children and others by number. However, when something unusual happened, like the death of the family head, birth, death, marriage of a child, this was often noted in the remarks section, and additional names may be given there.

    Canada, Dept. of Indian Affairs, St. Peter’s Reserve, Treaty Money Pay Lists, 1871-1883. This is a specific pay list for one of the oldest reserves in Southern Manitoba and a useful follow-up to the parish registers of St. Peters. However, the provincial archive has pay lists for most reserves in Manitoba up to about 1900. For the years after that date, one has to consult the membership clerk of the respective reserve.

    Anglican Church Records, HBCA. These are duplicates of the earliest registers of births, deaths, and marriages, which were sent to the Hudson’s Bay Company headquarters in London. They are an invaluable source of information on aboriginal families that settled at Red River. However, the original Anglican records, which are located in the Manitoba Archives, should also be consulted, because they occasionally contain additional information. For example, the mother of the Reverend Henry Budd was listed as Mary in the HBC record, but the register kept by the parish also recorded her Cree name as well.

    Roman Catholic Records. A useful source of information on aboriginal families, especially in the first half of the 19th century. Unfortunately, there are gaps due to the loss of the earliest registers of St. Boniface.

    Church Missionary Society (CMS). An often untapped source of information on the Church of England’s missionary work among the aboriginal people. An extremely useful avenue to pursue, but challenging to use. Always refer to the finding aid, which sheds light on an otherwise poorly organised source.

    The Selkirk Papers. Not listed at online, but available on microfilm at the Manitoba Archives. Like the CMS records, it is poorly organised. However, it often contains information on the early 19th century available nowhere else. It provides useful data on the establishment of the Selkirk Settlement and the activities of the HBC, including its relationships with aboriginal people.

  2. Other Manitoba Sources

    United Church Archives, University of Winnipeg. Contact Person: Diane Haglund. Ph: 1-204-783-0708. This archives contains church registers, the earliest dated 1840, for such places as Berens River, Fisher River, Nelson River, Norway House, etc., where the early Methodist missions were established. The archives also have missionary journals that occasionally contain genealogical information.

    The Elizabeth Dafoe Library, University of Manitoba. The library has microfilm copies of the Canadian censuses, including those of aboriginal communities. Its rare book archive includes Henry Budd letters acquired in the past few years.

    The St. Boniface Historical Society. 340 Provencher Street, St. Boniface, Manitoba R2H 0G7. Website, Phone: 1-204-233-4888; Fax: 1-204-231-2562. Contact person: Gilles Lesage, Director. The focus is Metis genealogy, but the archive also has many French-Canadian records as well. The Society will compile a genealogy for $75.00, and a Metis Harvestor Card (must include six generations Metis and scrip application) for $30.00. Society offices open Monday-Friday (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.), daily research fee of $5.00. For those interested in Métis (French/Roman Catholic) sources, this is a good place to start.

    The Metis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre. Address: 504-63 Albert Street, Winnipeg MB  R3B 1G4. Website, Phone: 1-204 956-7767; Fax: 1-204-956-7765. Contact Person: Jeanette Geortzen. Focus is the English and Scottish Mixed-Blood or Metis people. For Manitobans in Winnipeg: Send in information on family back to 1901 for preliminary assessment (fee of $30). If information is available, this will be compiled for an additional fee of $25. For out of province, this additional fee is $40.


Last updated: July 27, 2009


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