Genealogy resources

cjcarcmenpray2The mandate of the Canadian Jewish Archives is to collect archival and reference material on Jewish life in Canada. As a general rule, birth, death and marriage records are not available here. We offer a limited amount of information about current and past Jewish communities outside Canada. Many of our most useful resources for family research are now available on-line through the Family History section of the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network.



On-line Resources:

Jewish Immigrant Aid Services Files. These case files include immigration, social service and family-tracing request files. The earliest information in this collection dates to 1920-1921. A large proportion of Jewish immigrants to Canada were assisted by JIAS, and a large proportion of these immigrants passed through or settled in Montreal. The greater part of the index to these 97,000 cases is available through the Canadian Jewish Archive's internal database, and a name index to the cases that are over 60 years old is currently searchable on-line through the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network's genealogy database. Information about more recent files and earlier files that have not yet been indexed is available only through direct contact with Archives staff. As these are personal files, access to all JIAS case file material is restricted and can only be accessed at the discretion of the Archives.

Jewish Colonization Association individual farm settler reports are now searchable on-line through the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network's genealogy database. These reports include family details on settlers in Western agricultural colonies circa 1906-1951, for farms in the Laurentian mountain area of Quebec from 1909-1973, as well as around the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 1939-1977.

Hebrew Sick Benefit Association files. The records of this large Montreal burial and mutual aid society cover the years 1892-1989 and include membership books (containing address, country of origin, profession, spouse's name, etc.) and registers of death and burial plot information. A large proportion of the early records are in Yiddish. All the available membership records, from 1997-1945, are available on-line through the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network's genealogy database. The death register information is in the process of being indexed as well. Work on this project has been made possible by a grant from the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal.

Translated Yiddish Obituaries from the Keneder Adler (Jewish Daily Eagle). This index was produced in 2001 and 2004 with funding from the Ottawa Jewish Genealogical Society and is now available on the CJHN genealogy database. It contains all the information found in the 2,838 death and unveiling notices that appeared in the Adler from November 19, 1908, to December 31, 1935, though as obituaries rarely appeared before 1917, most of the information dates from 1917 onward. The data include the obituary date, date of death or unveiling, name, maiden name, age, spouse's name, number of children, siblings or other relatives (sometimes with their names), place of death and last residence, parents' names, cemetery and shiva information, memberships and affiliations of the deceased, and additional notes. Additional notes often provide a poignant glimpse into early-20th century Montreal. The information was translated from the original Yiddish by Eiran Harris and Aaron Krishtalka, and was indexed by Hélène Vallée.

Harry Hershman War Orphan case Files. All of these files are listed by name (many with images) on the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network at this location. These files include the approximately 150 child immigrants who came to Canada in 1921 from the Polish Ukraine after WWI. Mostly in Yiddish, the files often include identification photos, forms filled out in Europe about the child, post-immigration correspondence, and reports. These case files are semi-restricted, at the discretion of the Archives staff.

Canadian Jewish Casualties in the Canadian Armed Forces can be searched on-line through the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network's genealogy database. The information in this database includes date of death, place of burial, and often many other life and heroic action details relating to over 550 individuals. In addition, researchers visiting the Canadian Jewish Archives can access the Canadian Jewish Congress War Efforts Committee files, for which there is a finding aid prepared at the file level. These additional records include nominal lists of Jewish servicemen in each branch of the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII, in all around 10,000 names. While the lists themselves are not indexed on computer, information on particular individuals can be searched in archival files and with the help of the two volumes of Jewish servicemen biographies which were produced by CJC right after the war (Canadian Jews in World War II, Casualties and Decorations.) These volumes are available for purchase in photocopied format.

United Restitution Organization claim files are indexed by name in the Archives' internal database. This collection includes approximately 11,000 Montreal and Vancouver case files, and also some from Toronto and Ottawa. The documentation includes family and immigration information, as well as a chronicle (usually in German) of the claimant's WWII experiences. These files are restricted to direct family members and are only available for consultation at the discretion of the Archives staff. However, for those who have copies of correspondence with the United Restitution Organization in their possession, we have created "The Interpretive Guide to the United Restitution Organization Claims Files," an online guide which assists non-German speakers in translating and interpreting these documents.

Resources available through contacting the Archives:

"Personalia" files of clippings, obituaries, and occasional correspondence for approximately 10,000 individuals. All of these are indexed on computer.

Pre-1900 personalia files, including many family trees of the first Jewish families to settle in Canada, particularly in this province. Much of the material in these files is photocopied from originals in other archives.

United Jewish Relief Agencies files, listed by name on computer. This includes case files for individuals who came here during and after WWII as refugees, War Orphans, and German-Jewish internees. These case files are open to the public (with restrictions at the discretion of the archives).

Synagogue birth registers, including microfilmed copies. For Sherbrooke, Quebec, synagogue (1907-1985) and Hamilton, Ontario (1924-1940). Also, two Winnipeg synagogues have deposited copies of their birth and child-naming certificates with us, going back to the 1970s. We also have register books from the Montreal congregation Adath Jeshurun and microfilm copies of the earliest synagogue registers from Montreal, covering the years 1841-1883. Through the Archives computer, information about how to locate other synagogue records can be obtained.

Burial register, Baron de Hirsch cemetery Montreal 1906-1964 (microfilm and paper copy). This valuable copy was made in 1998 from the original old register belonging to this historic cemetery, the burial place for a large proportion of Montreal's less affluent Jewish inhabitants from the earliest years of the 20th century onwards.

The Montreal Synagogue Finder. This computerized document functions as a guide to synagogues past and present in Montreal, by permitting searches by name or nickname of congregation, address or partial address, and often by name of rabbi. Tracing a synagogue which has moved or merged with others can provide a means of locating circumcision, bar-mitzvah, and marriage records where civil records are unable to help. This guide is not available in complete form due to security considerations but can be searched by contacting Archives staff. (

Baron de Hirsch School, Baron de Hirsch Institute minutes and lists, some on microfilm. These records, from approximately 1895-1917, contain many names of immigrants and recently immigrated Montrealers. No index to these names is currently available. (Many researchers write that they were settled or helped by this organization. However, the records do not usually say anything about the family aside from the name.)

Combined Jewish Appeal Honour Rolls and Prospect lists, Montreal. The Jewish fund-raising campaign in Montreal produced lists of contributors and potential contributors, including addresses. The Archives has donor books from 1951-1968, as well as "prospect lists" of synagogue members and mutual aid society members, for 1959 and 1960 only. The synagogue and organization names are listed on computer, but the names are not. (Note: as of 2015 most of this category of records has been transfered to the Federation collection of the Jewish Public Library Archives.)


Other name registers, in addition to those listed above:

Jewish residents of Toronto in the 1861-1901 census of Canada - on microfiche
Jewish residents of the Maritimes in the 1901 census of Canada - on microfiche
Jewish residents of Montreal, Quebec City in the 1871-1901 census - on microfiche

Published sources:

Reference books on tracing Jewish roots

Includes Where Once We Walked, Gilbert's Atlas of the Holocaust, back issues of AVOTAYNU genealogy magazine (USA and international) and SHEM TOV newsletter (Toronto).

Also recommended: for 1909-1914 references: Lawrence Tapper's Biographical Index to the Canadian Jewish Times (#CJC-LIB-TAP) for 1920s references: A.D. Hart's The Jew in Canada.