Lutheran Church in Canada

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Canada Gotoarrow.png Canada Church Records

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Lutheranism in Canada dates back to Danish explorers in 1619 and German settlers in Nova Scotia in 1749, the latter encouraged to populate the territory by George II of Great Britain; a first church was raised in Halifax in 1752. As Canadian settlement spread west, Ontarian congregations followed in the late 1700s, Manitoban ones in the 1800s, and Albertan ones in the early 1900s.[1]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination, with 111,570 baptized members in 519 congregations. Together with the LCC and the Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations, it is one of only three all-Canadian Lutheran denominations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches. According to the 2011 Canadian census, a larger number of 478,185 adherents identify as Lutheran. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada came into being in 1986 through the merger of two predecessor bodies: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (started in 1966 by Canadian congregations of the American Lutheran Church) and three synods of the Lutheran Church in America, called the Canada Section. [2]

Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) is a confessional Lutheran denomination in Canada. It is the second largest Lutheran body in Canada after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). LCC was founded in 1988 when Canadian congregations of the St. Louis-based Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) formed an autonomous church body with a synodical office in Winnipeg, Manitoba. LCC has no substantial theological divisions from LCMS and continues to have cooperative and sharing arrangements.[3]

The Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations (CALC) is a small Lutheran denomination in Canada. CALC was founded in the early 1990s by a group of Lutherans who strove to keep the authority of Scripture central to the life of their churches and their faith. It was formally incorporated by an act of Parliament in June 1994. It is today the third largest Lutheran denomination in Canada.[4]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different time periods and practices of different record keepers will affect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

Children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth.

  • baptism date
  • birth date and place
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • fathers' names
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • father's name in the case of a child

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source],, and can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caution sign.png

Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Family History Library (FHL) has microfilmed and/or digitized records for churches in the Canada.
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under the province or a town.
  • If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
  • Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
  • To find records:
a. Click on the records of Canada.
b. Click on Places within Canada and a list of provinces will appear.
c. Click on your province.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Or click on Places within Canada, [PROVINCE] and a list of towns will appear.
f. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
g. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
h. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.

  • Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
  • To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
  • Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
  • A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
  • If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
  • Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.

Addresses in Canada[edit | edit source]

Addresses Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada[edit | edit source]

Addresses Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC)[edit | edit source]

Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations (CALC)[edit | edit source]

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.

Here you will find archive information unique to the state. Many more archives are kept by denomination. For denominational archives, go to Searching for Church Records by Denomination.

Laurier Archives
Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Telephone: (519) 884-0710 Ext.3825

Lutheran Theological Seminary Saskatoon
114 Seminary Crescent
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0X3
Telephone: (306) 966-7850

Concordia Lutheran Seminary
470 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catharines, Ontario L2T 4C3
Telephone: (905) 688-2362

Concordia Lutheran Seminary
7040 Ada Boulevard
Edmonton, Alberta T5B 4E3
Telephone: (780) 474-1468

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
Augustana College
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois, 61201

Toll-free phone:800-798-8100 Phone: 309-794-7000

Most of the Lutheran, Covenant, and Free churches listed below are also indexed and available to search on Access them at Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center. This was made possible by a collaboration between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Covenant Archives at North Park University, the Evangelical Free Church of America, the Swedish Emigrant Institute in Växjö, Sweden, and the Swenson Center.

Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0N4
Service Points Outside Ottawa

Telephone: 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777 (toll-free in Canada and the United States)
TTY: 613-992-6969 or 1-866-299-1699 (toll-free in Canada)
Fax: 613-995-6274

Library and Archives Canada holds only a small collection of parish registers, none of which are comprehensive for any region. Most are transcripts rather than originals, available on microfilm and listed in our Checklist of Parish Registers (ISBN 0660538636). Due to the heavy volume of inquiries we receive, we are unable to conduct searches in parish registers.

Canadian Council of Archives / Conseil Canadien des archives
130 Albert Street, Suite 1201
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5G4

Toll free 1-866-254-1403
Fax (613) 565-5445

  • Archive Search You can search the holdings of more than 800 archives across Canada through this portal, formerly known as CAIN (Canadian Archival Information Network).

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:

Contact local libraries.[edit | edit source]

Churches sometimes donate their records to local libraries. Call or write to the libraries in the close vicinity of the church your ancestors might have attended and the towns where they resided.

Look for published books with transcripts of church records.[edit | edit source]

Many early records, especially from the 1600's and 1700's, have been transcribed and published in books.
These books can be digitized and available online. Check these online digital libraries:

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png Try different keywords in various combinations:the name of the town,
the name of the specific church, the denomination, "church records", and "[PROVINCE] church records".

Consult the PERSI index for records published in journals.[edit | edit source]

  • PERSI is the Periodical Source Index and is available at, ($). It can be searched for free at any Family History Center. PERSI is an index to family and local history periodicals from 1847 to the present. Many of these periodicals publish church records. If you locate an index entry for a church, you will then need to find the periodical. Use the search engine to find a library near you that carries the periodical. Library reference desks can be contacted to request a copy of articles, or you may need to hire a researcher.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

Many of the records will be written in Fraktur (old German) script. These articles will teach how to read the records.

  • These printable handouts can be used for ready reference when reading German Handwriting.
Vocabulary found on Specific Records:
Dates, Numbers, Abbreviations:
Miscellaneous Vocabulary:
  • Fraktur Font -- Many forms and books are printed in this font.
German Given Names:

Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by gathering in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Lutheran Church-Canada" in Wikipedia,, accessed 25 Julky 2020.
  2. "Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada" in Wikipedia.,, accessed 25 July 2020.
  3. "Lutheran Church-Canada" in Wikipedia,, accessed 25 Julky 2020.
  4. "Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations", in Wikipedia,, accessed 25 July 2020.
  5. Merriman, Brenda Dougall. "Canadian Denominational Background Roman Catholics and Lutherans (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),