Posted by Ancestry Australia and New Zealand on July 1, 2010 in Content

On this Canada Day, is pleased to announce the online publication, in partnership with Nova Scotia Archives, of over one million historic Nova Scotian birth, marriage and death (BMD) indexes – a collection of huge significance to Scots with Canadian emigrant ancestors.

The Nova Scotia Birth Marriage and Death Indexes 1763-1957, include indexes for more than 206,000 birth records, 423,000 marriage records and 410,000 death records, detailing those who were born, married or who died in the Canadian province, during the height of Scottish emigration.

Extensive Scottish emigration to Nova Scotia took place during the 18th century, resulting in its name, which is a Latinized version of “New Scotland”. Today, more than 4.5 million Canadians claim (either full or partial) Scottish descent and an impressive 227,000 Nova Scotians claim to be descended from Gaelic-speaking settlers.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, subsistence farmers (crofters) who lived in the Scottish Highlands were forced by land owners to leave their homes and make way for large scale, more profitable sheep farming. Tens of thousands of men, women and children were made to leave their homes – often violently.

These so-called ‘Highland Clearances’ led to mass emigration, with an estimated 25,000 Scots emigrating around the world between 1763 and 1775 alone. Many Scots arrived in Canada through Nova Scotia, and given that it offered land and employment opportunities, prompting them to put down their roots and start building a ‘New Scotland’.

The indexes are searchable by a combination of name, place of birth, marriage or death, gender and name of spouse (for marriages only).

Famous historical figures can be found in the record indexes including:

  • Alexander Graham Bell – the inventor of the telephone born in Edinburgh, died on the 2nd of August, 1922 at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia
  • Samuel Cunard – the Canadian shipping magnate married Susan Duffus on the 4th February 1815

As BMDs are considered core historical records by family history researchers, these indexes are a major addition to’s historical collection and may be of great significance to those with ancestors who emigrated to Nova Scotia.

To discover your Nova Scotia ancestors, visit


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