Records of Indian Affairs
Many of the early records identifying individual Métis people in Ontario are found in the records that were created by the Department of Indian Affairs (the predecessor of the current Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada or INAC). For example, individuals in locations throughout Ontario are identified as receiving treaty annuity payments as Halfbreeds. These sources identify individuals receiving treating payments – as Métis – not as Indians. These records are held at Library and Archives Canada. Many of the records have been digitized others are available on microfilm. Not all files are open to the public.
There are three areas to check:
At the Canadian Genealogy Centre site select:
- What to Search Topics
- Ethno-Cultural and Aboriginal Groups
- Aboriginal Peoples
- Red and Black Series
The Red and Black Series contain the records of the Department of Indian Affairs that are an incredible historical resource. These records, which are designated Record Group 10 (RG 10), are arranged using the original central registry system that was established in 1872. It was called the Red Series because it was kept in a book with a Red Cover. This series contains the records for Eastern Canada. In 1882 the Black Series was established which contains the records for Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and the Maritime provinces. In 1907 the Maritimes were transferred to the Red Series Most files are arranged by band, agency or district and then by the date they cover. Knowing when or if the band signed a treaty could be important. Many of the records list names of “Half-Breeds” who were part of the community. The database enables one to search under many different fields. This is particularly important if you find a reference that provides the volume and file number. The database is very specific in terms of how words are spelt in a document. If you fail to have any success be sure to try other ways to spell a word. Western Ontario records may be found in either of the series but if they are part of the current database they will be reported. Currently, volumes 1855 to 2343 in the Red Series are available in digital format; these volumes were scanned in black and white from microfilm reels C-11103 to C-11204. The remaining Red Series and the entire Black Series will be digitized in the upcoming year and added to this database. These additions are found in “Archives Search”.
- Keywords: Enables you to search all fields alone or in combination.
- File Number: Enables you to find a specific file or, if wild card characters are used, several files belonging to a series.
- Volume: Enables you to locate an item based on the volume/box number cited in publications or elsewhere.
- Outside Dates: To access records with a range of dates, for example 1884-1890, it is necessary to include either the beginning year (1884) or end year (1890) that appears in the file description (they cannot be accessed by indicating any years that fall between the Outside dates).
- Microfilm Reel Number: Enables you to retrieve all the records on the same microfilm reel (numbers were assigned by Library and Archives Canada).
- Descriptions with Digitized Images: Enables you to retrieve only the records with digitized images.
The “Archives Search” database includes information from both the ‘General Inventory’ and the ‘Government of Canada” files. Some of the search results include the main title, type and creator of the material, dates of creation, a description of the material and whether it is found online. Use the “Search Helps” to achieve the best results. Some examples of search terms to try are: annuity, pay lists, census, Half-Breed, Halfbreed, Non-Treaty, Treaty, Treaty 3, Treaty 9, agency or Northern Superintendency. Use these terms in conjunction with a place name, a band name. You can also restrict your search to “Online Sources.” One way to learn how items are described is to enter the term “Red Series.” There is a return over 24,000 hits but will give you some ideas of what to use as a search term(s). This search engine is useful if you have a book, article or document that refers to particular sources in Library and Archives Canada. You can also enter a microfilm number. Sometimes you will see all the documents found in that microfilm and sometimes just a few. If there is a microfilm number but there is a notation that says “open but not available” it means that there is no paper copy available. Particular references will be outlined in the regional guides which are being prepared.
3. Ancestors Search
This search pages searches databases that have been created within Library and Archives Canada. It can be searched by a particular name. At the bottom of the page there are links to other databases found on other sites in Canada.