From 1867-70, a great deal of current Saskatchewan was Rupert’s Land. In 1870, the Northwest Territory and Rupert’s Land merged to become one vast territory encompassing modern day Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northern Quebec.
Hudson’s Bay Company
For these and other Colonial Office records, see the National Archives, Kew, London.
- 1670 – the Hudson’s Bay Company was created by British royal charter
- 1763 – the North-West Company was formed to encompass and exploit that part of the territory not covered by the HBC charter
- 1820 – HBC was joined with the North-West Company
- 1869 – HBC sold its rights to the two-year old Dominion of Canada
Mandy Banton, Administering the Empire, 1801-1968: A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in the National Archives of the UK (London, UK: University of London Press, School of Advanced Study, Institute of Historical Research, 2020), https://humanities-digital-library.org/index.php/hdl/catalog/book/administering-the-empire-1801-1968 : accessed 14 Jun 2021.
This page last updated 3 Jan 2023 and contains resources primarily for Saskatchewan, Canada. Main archives and lesser known locales have location maps. Listings are under the following categories:
- BMDs and Divorce
- Censuses – See Western Canadian Censuses
- Cemeteries, Obituaries
- Church Records
- Courts, Law, Legal, Prison
- Land, Directories, Property
- Local History Books, other Publications
Archives – City of Saskatoon Archives
One of the greatest tools in the genealogist’s toolkit is mapping. The City’s archives house fire insurance maps, city maps, building plans and much more. Unfortunately only available in person, but if you ask nicely, you might be able to talk the City clerks into finding something for you. Here’s the inquiries link.
The first place to look.
Archives – Moose Jaw Genealogy Society – BMDs and more
From the volunteers at this society, this site features huge amounts of genealogical data. Aside from the 3 sections listed below, look for Towns & Schools, and Local History Books.
The provincial archives are located in Regina, SK. These records don’t show up in Ancestry or FamilySearch. Check out the homesteading records in Land – I found an elusive ancestor there, because you can seach by name.
Archives – Saskatchewan Genealogical Society (Regina)
Address: 110 – 1514 11th Avenue. Extensive archives with far more stored on the shelves than is digitized.
Archives – Saskatchewan Genealogical Society (Saskatoon)
Here is a map of the Saskatoon Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society. A wealth of resources, run by dedicated volunteers, and backed by SK Culture, with funding from SK Lotteries. The society offers conferences, field trips to Salt Lake City, books, and more. I discovered it when I was reading the excellent Tracing your Aboriginal Ancestors in the Prairie Provinces. See my review in Books for Genealogists here. I joined the SK Genealogical Society in January, 2018.
Archives – University of Regina’s Archer Library
Address: University Drive North, 3737 Wascana Pkwy, Regina, SK S4S 0A2.
BMDs and Divorce
This site was begun in 2005 and is still fairly bare bones. From the website:
The legislation governing Saskatchewan Vital Statistics allows for the publishing of a genealogical index of historic vital events. A portion of these events have been indexed and are available via the search below.
The search function does not allow for Boolean searching, so keep a notepad handy of all the name variants you’ll need. For example: Giesbrecht, Geesbrecht, Geisbrecht, Giesbrekt, etc. The “Select number of records” to show in results should automatically have been set at 100 or larger, but it defaults to 3.
Copies of records may be ordered from the Government of SK. In Feb, 2018, the charge for a death certificate was $55. Here’s a link for more information.
HINT #1 – Although the site suggests that births older than 100 years are available (~1918), I have yet to find any birth records past 1908.
HINT #2 – See above. It’s a similar situation for death records. The site suggests that records older than 70 years are available (~1948), but I have yet to see records past 1916.
Recently updated, the transripts are data from the graves 1850-1994. You might just find your elusive ancestor here. (Link requires an Ancestry account.)
Cemetery – Moose Jaw Genealogical Society
For the cemeteries Moose Jaw Pioneer Cemetery, Moose Jaw City Cemetery, Rosedale Cemetery, Sunset Cemetery (formerly Resthaven), Pine Grove Cemetery, Heath Cemetery, Smith Cemetery, and St. Aidan’s Church Cemetery, look for photos, lists and transcriptions.
Over half a million names.
Cemetery – Saskatoon – Woodlawn Cemetery
Woodlawn is Saskatoon’s largest cemetery. As of Jan 2022, it has recorded 63,000 interments. It is a soothing, restful, and well maintained space, and best of all for the genealogist, it has a database index search. The link will take you to the main page. Find the link to the search on the page. In addition, the staff at Woodlawn are exceedingly helpful. I am a Find a Grave volunteer for this cemetery. If you are looking for a marker, please feel free to contact me.
Obituaries – Moose Jaw Genealogical Society – Obituaries (1888-?)
Moose Jaw Genealogical Society. The Moose Jaw GS deserves a massive shout of appreciation for their work in scanning, posting, and transcribing obits from 1888 onwards, right up to nearly present day. Comes in a variety of formats.
Members can access over 160K names in this list.
Obituaries – Saskatoon Obituaries, 1902-1945
From Eleanor Kennedy, this impressive site is a listing of the Saskatoon obits names and dates. Currently available are the years 1940-1945, but 1939 is on the way.
Search here first. Then see below.
Oh, the goodies you find when searching for information. There are over 6500 records in this database, searchable by last name or by parish. Try both. We all know what kinds of problems happen with transcription, illegible records, and old documents. Not every parish is represented, and the availability of records is uneven, however, it’s a lot easier than writing to the church.
NOTES ABOUT THESE RECORDS: I looked at the parish of St. Paul’s, Saskatoon. There are 14 databases, containing a variety of records on births, marriages and burials. Some records have an index: a file that lists the last names and page numbers. For extra fun, I noticed that not every year is represented, and there are at least 3 languages to contend with: English, French, and (this is a first for me) Latin. I guess those Catholic priests had to exercise their elite educations somewhere. Here’s a current map of the Saskatoon area rural Catholic parishes.
Courts, Law, Legal, Prison
Before clicking any links, review “Court Records” provided by the Saskatchewan archives here.
Courts – Annual statutes of Saskatchewan
From 1906 to present day, find the original laws on the books here. For example, An Act to prevent the employment of female labour in certain capacities was assented 15 Mar 1912, and prevented white women from being employed by any business owned by Chinese, Japanese or “other Oriental person.”
Can’t find your ancestor? Is it possible they changed their name because the original was too unpronouncable for the neighbours? This register of name changes from 1917-1993 is a goldmine, listing both the previous and new names, plus dates and locations, of SK residents who opted for a name change. Bonus: the registers are text-searchable.
This is an odd one, and a total Hail Mary shot in the dark, but there is a slim chance your ancestor left a will in …BC. I found 200+ entries for wills for SK residents in this index, which is a list compiled by the AGS. There are also wills for Alberta, Manitoba, England, Scotland, etc.
Courts – Saskatchewan
See the link here for the FamilySearch collection Probate Records (1887-1931). Also IMAGES.
Prison – Prince Albert City Jail, 1921 Canada Census
Built on the site of a former residential school in 1911, the 1921 Canada census lists ~130 inmates. Here is the free link from Ancestry. Today, the jail is the Saskatchewan federal penitentiary.
Saskatchewan had two hospitals for those suffering mental health issues: Weyburn and N. Battleford. You can find some former patients for either hospital with Find a Grave if you enter the key phrase “Saskatchewan Mental Hospital Cemetery Memorials.”
Hospitals – North Battleford Provincial Mental Hospital
Here are the specifics to help you locate the actual census record: Province of Saskatchewan; District 222 North Battleford; Subdistrict 59. There are only 25 pages in this file. The patients and staff begin on page 4. See below for finding the records. As well, I found that the 1921 Canada census lists the patients AND staff. If you’re looking for any missing, long lost SK-based relations around this time period, check this census. HINT #1: 1921 census at Library and Archives Canada, enter the keyword “mental” and choose the province of Saskatchewan. HINT #2: If you have an Ancestry account, you’ll be able to page through the entire census, which is easier: i) Go to the 1921 Census of Canada; ii) Browse this collection, choose province of Saskatchewan and district of North Battleford. In the drop-down, locate sub-district 59 – Mental Hospital. Try this link.
Hospitals – Weyburn Mental Hospital
The Weyburn Mental Hospital opened in December, 1921, too late for the 1921 Canada census (in June). It wasn’t only for mental health – there was a “TB” (tuberculosis) annex. Here’s some background information on the hospital, and here’s the location. You can find it in the 1926 census of the prairies at Family Search here:
- Year – 1926
- Province – Sask.
- District – 36 Weyburn
- Sub-district – 87, Weyburn City Mental Hospital, pages 1-21 [Edit note: Pages 1-4 are staff; 5-21 are patients.]
I prefer FamilySearch because I like paging through the whole file. Alternatively, you can find Weyburn Hospital at Library and Archives Canada’s Search page by entering “Weyburn” in the keyword box, plus the names you’re looking up.
Land, Directories, Property
From Pete Payette comes this site detailing the forts of SK. Did your family work with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) fur trade outposts or the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP)?
Also see below for the HBC maps of fur trading posts.
If you’re not a farmer, you probably have a little trouble reading the legal land descriptions for the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. This is my goto lookup – and it’s free for the first 20 searches / day.
Land – Homestead Records
Find digitized homestead files in three places. First at the Saskatchewan archives here: Series S 42 – Saskatchewan Homestead Records Pre-1930 series. Secondly at FamilySearch in the IMAGES lookup for “Saskatchewan” here. Thirdly below.
Land – Homestead files in Wills, Probate, Land, Tax & Criminal (Ancestry)
Just when you think you’re familiar with it, Ancestry coughs up another collection. I don’t fully understand why a general search doesn’t (always) bring up these interesting nuggets, but where would be the fun in that? Here’s the interesting part: I took a spin through the SK homestead records found here, and they are different from the ones held at the provincial archives.
Did you know that SK’s borders are the second and fourth western meridians? Did you know that the first meridian is located just west of Winnipeg, which is why Winnipeg was an important jump off point for European migrants in search of free land?
This is a great breakdown of the survey that literally carved up the prairie provinces into quarter sections of land for European immigrant farmers, and it includes maps.
Land – Pioneer Questionnaires
Use two sites together to find digitized pioneer questionnaires. First use the lookup at Saskatchewan Archives here. Then use that information to possibly locate the imaged file in the IMAGES section of FamilySearch here. From there, type “Saskatchewan, Manitoba” to get the list of images. Look for these.
This is one of the best descriptions of the township system in Canada I have ever seen, because it includes the provinces of BC and Ontario. If you’ve ever wondered what “DLS” meant, or wondered how Ontario was different from Saskatchewan, or why British Columbia was different from Alberta, this is the page to see. This is the only page I’ve ever seen that included Legal Subdivisions (LSDs) subdivisions in its descriptions, encompassing the urban and the rural. Also has a free lookups, limited to ten lookups/month. If you’re wondering why you might need this tool, I have one phrase for you: homestead files.
Thanks to the work of Kenneth R. Marks and Miriam Robbins, we have a site for Canadian directories. This site is always being updated. As of July 2020 there are directories for Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Plans are underway for Alberta, BC, Newfoundland & Labrador, PEI, Quebec, and the Territories.
See the Saskatchewan Residents Index (SRI) for an indexed list of people who lived in the province.
Local History Books, and Publications
Local History Collection, Frances Morrison Library
A unique feature of prairie genealogy, at least in Western Canada, is the local history book. This is a collection of stories put together by the local historical society, and is a total goldmine of genealogical information. If you find one for your family, you are fortunate, because you are guaranteed to find something you wouldn’t normally know, in addition to a deep look at the place they lived and the people they knew. I’m a big proponent of Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbours (“FAN”) research, and a local history book is stuffed with FAN details: the post office, the history, the homesteads, and sometimes biographies of the locals who served in wartimes. How do you find if a local history exists for your family? First off, you need to know where your ancestor lived. You’ll get this information from censuses. The censuses ending in “1,” i.e., 1881, 1891, 1901, will have district and subdistrict information avaialble at Library and Archives Canada. The censuses for the prairies 1926 will have the legal land description and the area. Then, you’ll need to find a title. If you can, visit the Family History Room at the Frances Morrison Library in Saskatoon. Their collection is extensive.
Local histories online
If you are unable to visit Saskatoon, try the card catalog at FamilySearch.
This is how a family researcher in England did it: she found a local history title, reached out for help from the Facebook group “Canadian Genealogy,” and I was able to request the book by interlibrary loan and send her the pages she needed. There was so much more than she expected that she’s now having to process it all.
The Collection Search came back online in Feb 2020. YAY!
Also try this site for a digitized local history search. Our ancestors were mobile folk, and AB and SK are right beside one another.
Following the logic of the above, here’s the link for local histories at the University of Manitoba, because Manitoba is Saskatchewan’s eastern neighbour.
Publications – Military Service Recognition Books
For some years, the legions have been raising money by producing Military Service Recognition Books. Families wishing to honour their veterans contribute write ups. Unfortunately, they are not a database lookup, but the names of those being honoured are listed in the indexes, it is absolutely free to look them up, and if you are lucky, the writeups usually include a photo – pure genealogical gold. Google “Military Service Recognition Book” + [province] to find them.
Publications – Cypress Hills Massacre – Canadian Encyclopedia
Everyone approaches genealogy differently, and for different reasons. For me, genealogy helps me see historical events with a new perspective – through the eyes of our ancestors. Here’s a good summary of the Cypress Hills Massacre of SK and AB, 1873.
Publications – Saskatchewan Medical Journal (1900s)
A journal for doctors. I found the main body of the journal a bit TMI, dealing with medical procedures as it does; however, each journal contains a Personals section about the gossipy events in the lives of doctors such as obituaries. Here’s how to find them:
- go to the link and scroll down to the Serials section of periodicals, annuals and newspapers
- Click “Browse this collection”
- In the search box, enter “Saskatchewan,” and refine the search by entering “Title” in the “Search in” dropdown menu
- There are not many medical journals, so easy to browse
A map of Saskatchewan showing where various ethnicities tended to congregate.
The GNR served Washington, Montana, and North Dakota, as well as reaching into Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Canadians travelled the GNR, crossing at various points from Sumas, Grand Forks, and Gateway in BC; Sweetgrass, Montana; Northgate, ND; and Bannerman, MB. It’s pretty useful to have a visual.
Maps – 1927 Maps of SK Towns
Thanks to the work of Doug Gent, you can find a good quality scan of dozens of towns from Alameda to Workman circa 1927. Doug doesn’t stop with maps – he has pages of detail on each town, including this page on Weyburn, where one of the SK mental health facilities were located.
From the Archives of Manitoba come these maps of HBC posts.
I had to find a list of small towns in Alberta, and this site was the answer to my question. There are maps as well – a real genealogical find.
For members find a selection of Cummins Maps 1917, 1920, 1922, 1926 (east of 3 rd Meridian) and 1930 (north of Township 21).
For the provinces that have stricter privacy laws, more tools are needed. You may not be able to hunt down any of the big three vital stats via eHealth, but you may find a local news piece announcing an event. The Ancestor Hunt has done a great job explaining what’s available, and how to search, and while the information is available elsewhere, it’s nice to see it organized this way.
A hidden gem. Search here for an index and a copy of the digitized record. When I visited, there were births from 1888-1914 and marriages from 1891-1914. See below for obits. Well done, Moose Jaw GS!
Newspapers – Peel’s Prairie Provinces
Understandably for the University of Alberta, the newspapers focus on Alberta; however, there are three from Saskatchewan in the collection, and they are keyword searchable.
- The Moose Jaw Herald Times, 1890-1899 available online
- The Prince Albert Review, aka The Saskatchewan Times, aka The Prince Albert Times and the Saskatchewan Review, 1882-1895 available online; it looks like 1880, 1881, and 1896-1891 may be coming as well
- Qu’Appelle Progress, 1885-1900 available online, with 1880-1884 and 1901-1909 underway
Digital newspapers, free to search, organized by publication. Not every edition of every publication is online, but there’s enough to give a great sense of the life and times of the day.
Saskie genealogy is hard! We really wouldn’t get very far without the dedicated efforts of our genealogy societies. I’m a member of my local branch. In addition, I’m a member of the FB groups Saskatchewan Genealogy and Saskatchewan Genealogy Network, where there are dozens of genealogists willing to offer advice. To everyone, thank you.