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City of Halifax Genealogical Sources

The following types of records are of interest to those exploring their family history in the old city of Halifax. Click on the blue series link to view fuller descriptions of these records in the Archives Database:

City Home registers 1802-1947  (series 102-33A)

Halifax’s Poor Asylum, later renamed the City Home, was a workhouse to care for the city’s unemployed, elderly, orphaned children, mental patients, and medical patients.  Registers record resident's name, age, date admitted and discharged, reason for admittance, by whom admitted, and religious affiliation, although completeness of information varied over time. Observations about the inmate are occassionally recorded. Registers are arranged in chronological order by admittance date. There are also separate registers of deaths, which record name, date, age, and cause of death.

Board of Health infectious disease cases 1895-1941 (series 102-28D)

As the body responsible for the health of the city’s residents, the Board of Health documented infectious disease cases in the City of Halifax.  Entries include patient information such as their name, street address, disease, results, fumigation, school, and general remarks. Cases are listed in chronological order.

Board of Health Physicians' death certificates 1894-1906 (series 102-28E)

Death certificates made by physicians for the city medical examiner contain the deceased’s name, date and place of death, cause of death, duration of illness, and the name of the attending physician. Most deaths were the result of an infectious disease. Certificates are arranged in chronological order.  Since physicians were required to submit death certificates to the province, these certificates should also be available through Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics.

Tuberculosis Hospital records 1926-1959 (series 102-31)

The Halifax Tuberculosis Hospital was intended to deal with the dramatic increase in TB cases after the First World War. Admittance records from 1926-1940 are in alphabetical order and list patient name, date of admittance, age, religion, birth place, friends’ addresses, date of death, and length of stay. Later admittance records are arranged chronologically by admittance date and only include patient name, date of admittance, date of release, and length of stay.

Committee of Camp Hill Cemetery records 1840-1994 (series 102-60)

Camp Hill Cemetery in central Halifax replaced the older cemetery on Barrington and Spring Garden (the Old Burying Ground). Among records of the governing committee are cemetery lot registers, account books with individuals’ names attributed to them, burial permits, burial record cards, and administrative records. The burial record cards in particular provide valuable information about interments, and are arranged alphabetically within specific cemetery divisions. Additional burial information can also be obtained through HRM Cemetery Operations at 902-490-4883 or by email.


Fairview Cemetery records 1884-1994 (series 102-32)

Located in northwest Halifax, Fairview Lawn Cemetery contains the graves of many victims of the Halifax Explosion, the RMS Titanic, and the City of Halifax’s poor. Records include burial accounts, burial register index, burial permits, deeds issued, as well as administrative records. Additional burial information can also be obtained through HRM Cemetery Operations at 902-490-4883 or by email..

Halifax Police Department records 1851, 1856, 1876-1998 (series 102-16)

Police records are an exellent source of information on those involved with the law, be they criminals, victims or police officers. There are a variety of records, including duty books, court record books, personnel files and correspondence.   There are also photographs of police officers from training programs, sports teams, community activities, etc.

If your ancestor was a police officer, there is a Police Staff Register, 1892-1914 - an alphabetical listing of police officers noting name, date they joined the force and notes on their career(series 102-16R.3), and personnel registers, 1894-1946, recording the name, birthdate, place of birth and religion of officers and non-commissioned Police staff such as janitors and secretaries. These ledgers also record the dates they joined the force, were promoted, reprimanded, resigned and died, with details about the event. Some entries have a newspaper obituary attached. There is an index to the names in these registers:  (series 102-16S)

Personnel information for police officers on payroll between 1906 and 1954 can also be found in the Treasurer's superannuation ledger (102-21B), and there are post-1950 personnel files, as well.
Note: some records are restricted for 90 years from date of register.

The Archives can also put you in touch with a local association of retired police officers, who have a huge data-bank of photographs of police officers.

City Prison inmate registers 1854-1957 (series 102-18B)

Also known as Rockhead Prison, the City Prison records consist of inmate registries, which contain inmate name, country, crime, sentence length, religion, age, physical description, date of discharge, and other general comments.   Registry entries are arranged in chronological order by date of admittance. Some records may be restricted.

Lists of Jurors and those Exempt from Jury Duty, 1898-1905 (sub-series 102-5-2)

Lists of residents eligible to serve as jurors for Dartmouth: gives name, residence and occupation.  Also lists of exempted employees or correspondence requesting exemption.  Any resident of more than 12 months with property assessed at more than $800 was eligible to be a juror, unless specially exempt. The following occupations were exempt: clerks of the Provincial Secretary, Attorney-Genral, Commissioner of Public Works and Mines, Supernitendent of Education and Provincial Engineer, employees of the Victoria General Hospital, Army and Navy, Departments of Customs, Inland Revenue, Post Office and Railways, those operating trains, telegraphs, telephones or working in chartered banks.

Employee Superannuation ledgers, 1906-1954 (series 101-21B)

If you're looking for someone who worked for the City, these ledgers tracked city employee pension contribution. The ledgers include: employee name, date of birth, date entered into service with the City, address, date of death or retirement, salary, position, and amount contributed to the superannuation fund. Note that only permanent employees contributed to the superannuation fund. 

Cover of City of Halifax Superannuation Ledger, 1906-1954

Click on ledger to search a pdf (140 KB) of the index

There is a searchable index of names of former City of Halifax employees, 1906-1954, with over 6600 names listed!  If you find someone you're interested in, just request to view or receive a copy of the relevant page.

The index was completed with the assistance of a work placement through Dartmouth's Solutions Learning Centre.


Oaths of Office, 1888-1994 (series 102-1F)

Oaths of office give the name and signature of officials of the City of Halifax. Early volumes include all city officials such as City Marshall, coal weighers and measurers, and board members, while later volumes are primarily Justices of the Peace, By-law Enforcement Officers, Special Constables, Police Constables and Aldermen.

Maps, plans and photos 1762-1996 (series 102-39)

The Engineering and Works Department kept thousands of maps and plans of the City of Halifax.  Beyond being a source for geographical reference, some plans show property ownership at specific dates for specific locations.  There are also architectural plans of buildings and residences.  An on-site database provides access to the plans.  A series of 6000 images taken by planners and building inspectors document buildings and streetscapes in the City, 1948-1982; photographs are arranged alphabetically by street name or geographic location

City Directories         

Even more than today’s Yellow Pages, these McAlpine directories are a wealth of information about what was where and who was doing what at certain times in our history.  The directories have:

  • a business directory (by type of business),
  • a City directory (listing people and their profession, business and organizations),
  • a street directory (what was at every address on every street and which ward it is in),
  • information about city and provincial government and services, including names of senior officials
  • lists of clubs, societies, associations, etc. and names of officers
  • and of course, advertising and much more!

Municipal Archives has:

             McAlpine’s: 1889, 1893-1916, 1920, 1921, 1923
             Halifax and Dartmouth: 1932, 1934, 1936 - 2000

Library and Archives Canada includes McAlpines Halifax City Directories for 1869-1901 in a searchable on-line database.

A fuller set is located at the Halifax Public Libraries and Nova Scotia Archives.