Thursday, 5 July 2018
Probate Records Part 6: Alberta and British Columbia
In this installment of Probate Records, we're going to look at sources in Alberta and British Columbia. If you missed the earlier installments, you can find them here:
Part 1: An introduction to the records
Part 2: Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island
Part 3: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
Part 4: Quebec and Ontario
Part 5: Manitoba and Saskatchewan
Probate in Alberta, as with other provinces, is handled by the provincial Court of Queen's Bench. When looking for probate records in Alberta, the most important information you need to know is where your ancestor died. There is no central place for court records, so you will have to contact the courthouse where the probate took place. If you are unsure, both Family Search Wiki and Library and Archives Canada suggest getting a search done by the Succession Duties Department . Searches can be done for a fee. Their contact information is:
Succession Duties Department
Public Trustee's Office
Edmonton Alberta T5J 3Z8
Once you have the judicial district, then you can contact the courthouse. The Court of Queen's Bench has an interactive map of courthouses here.
The Provincial Archives of Alberta's website states that they have files and indexes available to view onsite. If you can manage a visit there, it might save you some leg work contacting a far away courthouse.
Unfortunately, I could not find any other sources online or otherwise for Probate in Alberta. If you happen to know of any please comment below.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia handles Probate Cases. From a genealogy point of view, BC is much more user friendly on accessing information compared to other parts of Canada. There is a central registry that you can contact to find where your ancestor's probate records can be found. If the records you are looking for are before 1982, then the BC Archives at the Royal BC Museum should have them. They also have some files dated after 1982. Courthouse Libraries BC has a great information page on probate files and where to find them here. The BC Archives also has a reference guide here for the records in their possession. This guide is from 2010 though, so some changes may have been made since then. I did a search of their holdings and you can access it here. Take note that on the left side of the screen there are several subject group that have probate in the title, so check through them all to find the area and year ranges.
Other place to find Probate and Wills:
1. The Abbotsford Genealogical Society has indexes of wills filed in BC from the 1860's to 1940. These have been arranged alphabetically by surname and can be viewed online. They also have an index of wills filed by non residents of BC. Using the index you can find out which of the over 60 volumes of books the name is found in, and what page. You can then request a copy of the will through them. Or if you can make a visit there, they do have the volumes microfilmed.
2. Family Search has the browse only digital collection British Columbia Estate Files, 1859-1949. This is divided by jurisdiction. Some estate files were handled by the County Court, so some locations are further divided by County Court and Supreme Court. Ancestry also has this collection, but it is the same as the Family Search one, and is not indexed.
3. Family Search also has the browse only collection British Columbia Wills, 1861-1981. This collections has indexes from the central registry up to 1981, but the wills themselves only go to 1939.
For the last post in the series, we'll wrap things up with the Territories and some general tips, strategies and finding aids.