Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Research Your Ancestors in the Canada Gazette

When I did my series of blog posts on Divorce, I mentioned the Canada Gazette. This is a fantastic but not well known resource. It is the official newspaper of the Canadian government, and will be celebrating its 166th birthday this coming October. That's right, it has been in existence since before Confederation.

A Brief History 
The Union Act of 1840 took effect in February 1841, uniting Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Both has Gazettes of their own, and in October of 1841 the Canada Gazette became the government's official newspaper. The Upper Canada Gazette and the Quebec Gazette both continued to be published until 1849, when an Act of Parliament made the Canada Gazette the only recognized publication for the Canadian Government. Originally only published in English, slowly it became a bilingual publication.

It has many taken many forms over the last 160 plus years, but today it is published in three parts. Part I is dedicated to the general business of Government. Part II is dedicated to the regulations and statutes of the Government of Canada. Part III is announcements of public acts.

For a more detailed explanation and timeline of the Canada Gazette take a look at the publication celebrating the 160th anniversary here. Also note there was also a publication made last year for the 165th anniversary. The link to it can be seen on the link above. Both are free to view.

What You'll Find
For the first years it concentrated on Government Acts and Regulations. Through subsequent years you will find notices for divorce, bankruptcy, corporate notices, Government Appointments, and so much more. Here's a sample page from 9 July 1904 that lists "Appointments, Promotions and Retirements" from the Canadian Militia:

Source: Internet Archive

Here's an example of the Government issuing "letters patent" incorporating Companies from 14 January 1893. One of the notices gives the names of "...Frederick Fairman, merchant, Dugald Graham, gentleman, Samuel Carsley, merchant, Robert Murdoch Liddick, merchant, Edward Alfred Small, merchant, John Cameron McLaughlin, manufacturer, Edmond Arthur Robert, manufacturer, Simon S. Silverman, merchant, James McBride, merchant, Robert McKay, merchant, George Bishop, engraver, Charles Morton, manager, all of the city of Montreal, Province of Quebec...". The notice is incorporating the company called The Dominion Blanket and Fibre Company (Ltd.):

Source: Internet Archive

This example from 29 August 1846 shows notices on bankruptcies. Listed are Richard Barrett (Port Hope), Richard Bates Parr (Whitby), Jared Stocking (Town of Niagara), Joseph Milner (Township of Kingston), Christopher G. Cramer (City of Kingston), and John Bennett (City of Toronto):

Source: Collections Canada
This example from 7 January 1888 lists people from across the country who passed civil servant's exams:
Source: Internet Archive

 And finally, here's an interesting one about Alexis Gosselin. It states that he is able "...to exact and receive the tolls or dues for passing on the Bridge erected by the said Alexis Gosselin, over the River Boyer, in the Parish of St. Vallier, County of Bellechasse...". It goes on to list the toll fees, and is dated 8 November 1842:
Source: Collections Canada

Where to Find Publications 
From 1841 to 1998 the Canada Gazette was solely in print form. From 1998 to 2014 it was both in printed and digital form. From 2014 on wards it has become a digital only publication.

A quick search of provincial archives shows that some have copies in their holdings on microfilm. But the best place to search is on the archived Library and Archives Canada website here. They have digitized the majority of the issues from 1841-1997. You can download them in either GIF or PDF form. They are searchable, so at least you won't have to browse page by page. However, keep in mind that the search function looks for the keywords on the whole page, not by notice. So, if you type in "Smith bankruptcy", your result may show a page that has both a notice that contains the word "Smith", and a completely different notice on the same page that contains "bankruptcy".

If your looking for something from 1998 to 2011, you can look it up on the Canada Gazette website here. These are in PDF form. They are NOT searchable by keyword. However, the file names have the publication dates, so if you know the approximate time period, you will only have to do a minimum of browsing.

You can access publications from 2012 on wards here. The format is the same as above. They are PDFs and are NOT searchable by keyword.

They are various editions editions digitized on Internet Archive here. Using keywords "Canada Gazette" gave me 716 results.

A final word of warning: This is one of those resources where you'll have to be careful not to go down a "rabbit hole" as I like to call it. You can get so caught up looking at the notices that you WILL lose track of time. Try and stay focused, and you'll be surprised at what you may find.


  1. Great article Candice! Interesting stuff to find in the Gazette, certainly a great resource for genealogists..

  2. Thanks Penny! I had known about the Canada Gazette for a long time, but never really looked closely at it before. It wasn't until I was doing my series on divorce that I realized just how much information it contains. Truth be told, this post took longer than usual to write because I kept finding new and interesting things.