How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person in Canada

How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person in Canada

Many people want to know how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada for various reasons. The reasons behind it include educational, societal and leisure. While seeking obituaries for a particular person can be tiring, with the correct method, it can be done.

So, how do we establish how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada? Online and offline methods are an excellent avenue to get obituaries in Canada. If you are looking for obits offline, you can talk to historians and close family members or visit a morgue close to you.

For online resources, several websites provide detailed information on obituaries. Some include, Canadian Obits, Family Search, and

If you are willing to learn how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada and the information needed during your research, read on.

What is an obituary?

An obituary refers to a public piece (usually written) that announces the passing of an individual. With an obituary, you honour the dead and provide information for others.

In Canada, obituaries are a means to provide more information about an individual and burial arrangements. Information provided about the deceased may be vague, depending on the province in which it is announced or the family’s decision.

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What does an obituary in Canada contain?

The details about how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada must include what an obituary contains.

Deceased biological data

Obituaries in Canada start with a basic sentence that describes when the person passed on. This simple phrase states who the person is and their age. A typical example is: On Tuesday, November 21, 2023, Mary Jane, a caring wife, mother of four, and grandmother to five children, died at the ripe age of 90.

Information about the family

Another crucial criterion about obituaries in Canada is that they include information about the deceased family. A typical example of this is:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Extended family
  • Friends
  • Pets

Details of how they died

This is an optional section because not everyone wants to share it. While this information is required by life insurance companies in Canada, it’s not for members of the public.

Families might not want to share how the deceased died, whether it’s from HIV or any sexually transmitted illness. What most families use in Canada is Mary, who passed away after a brief illness.

Brief information about the deceased’s life

This is an ideal part of an obituary that should be shared with the public. Families are encouraged to talk about the deceased’s positive impact, educational qualifications, and other community service he might have rendered.

Funeral arrangements

Obituaries in Canada also contain how the deceased wants to be buried. In Canada, there must be information about the burial service’s time, date, and location. If there is a reception in memory of the dead, you should add it. Ensure you state succinctly if it’s strictly by invitation to avoid crowd issues.

How to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada - comparewise

How to start an obituary search in Canada

When discussing how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada, know how to start the research. Some information about how to search include:

Date of death

When you know the exact passing date, it’s easier to search for an obituary for a specific person. This can be found in the family record or death certificate.

There is a high chance that you will write an obituary faster when you know when they die. You could also use the Canada census to determine when a census died.

Location of death

When you know the province and town where the deceased died, it will help simplify your search. However, use the last known location when you can’t find this information. You can also check the church records he attended for his last place of residence.

Surname at the time of death

When searching for a deceased, you should consider the name they bear. Some bear their father’s name, while some bear their personal name. Ensures you understand which names they use in their official documents when searching.

You could also consider searching based on their husband’s name. If she bears Mary Jane, but her husband’s last name is Brown, you should try searching for Mary Brown.

Family members

Talking to close family members will aid you in searching for obituaries in Canada. Talk to spouses, sisters and other close family members. They will be in the best position to offer you transparent information about the obituaries of the deceased. If talking to a nuclear family fails, you might speak with extended families.

How to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada

There are several ways to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada. These ways include offline and online avenues. They are:


Newspapers should be your first point of contact when seeking an obituary for someone in Canada. The problem you will have with most Canadian newspapers (print and online) is duration. After six months, information is deleted from the database.

You should first get a local newspaper close to where the deceased stayed; there is a high chance that you will find the information you seek.

Using an online website such as Legacy can also be a good idea. This popular Canadian website has information about thousands of deceased people. It offers users the chance to search based on province, town, and date.

This website is similar to Legacy, allowing users to search for obituaries by name. However, you can provide extra information for faster results, such as the date of birth and passing date. This website is simple and can be used from anywhere in Canada.

While finding the obituaries for a specific person in Canada, you can also use In Memoriam. Their network spans more than 140 local newspapers in the country. Like most reputable obituary search engines, you can search using the names of the deceased.

However, if you have other information about the individual, it can be narrowed down. If the person is a tax-paying citizen, you can contact the Canada Revenue Agency for information about him.

This platform boasts detailed, advanced features that allow you to search using details such as deceased credit cards, gender, insurance company used, province of birth, and date of birth.

This is an online resource that can help you find obituaries in Canada. Researching the family tree, death notices, and memorabilia is best. Canadians love this platform because of its simplicity and detailed database. Just enter the dead person’s full name in the required field, and you will find your match.


The platform is recommended if you know the deceased’s full name. People who stay around Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba will find this platform great. The significant drawbacks of this platform are the limited database and the inferior search tool.

Online search

If all the above avenues fail, you can use Google or Bing to perform a search. All you need to do is type the full name and include the obituary.

Sometimes, you won’t get a favourable result the first time. You should include the banking information of the deceased and insurance terms. A good example is ‘Diana Richard, who died of cancer in Ontario”’.

Social media

The world has grown smaller thanks to the different social media platforms. You can visit their profile page if you are familiar with the deceased social media account. Many Canadians now place obituaries on the dead person’s social media page.

Genealogy website

Using social media can benefit you if you are seeking a recent obituary. A genealogy or historical platform is ideal for someone who died four to five decades ago. These historical websites have detailed databases for about 60–70 years. You only need the death date, legal name, location, and birthday.

Note that most Canadian genealogical websites will ask for a subscription. However, you will have a free trial period of two weeks. An excellent genealogical site you can consider is or,  among others.

Check the local church website

If you are familiar with where the deceased worship is, you could check the website. Most Canadian churches require members to provide their full details. So when there is a dead member, the church will post the full obituary of the member.

Local archive facility

Most Canadian provinces have archive houses where public records are kept. This place can help you confirm an obituary for a specific person you are looking for. However, if you use this facility, be ready to go through hundreds of newspapers and print

Provincial courthouse

A local probate court near the deceased’s house will likely have his obituary. Most courts have obituaries of people living in their vicinity pasted on the board.

You might have to part with some money when you resort to this method. Also, It takes some time before you are allowed to get this information.

Death record vs. obituaries

There are different ways to find an obituary for a specific person. This section seeks to differentiate between these two closely related concepts.

A death record, or certificate, is an official document drafted when an individual dies. This document includes information such as the time of death, cause of death, and the person’s full name. In Canada, these records are drafted by the provincial government for the archives.

However, an obituary in Canada is a notice of a person’s death. This announcement is made by close family members, colleagues, and friends.

This includes more detailed information about the deceased, such as hobbies, achievements, and family names. This document is meant to celebrate an individual and their life.

Compared with one another, death records are official documents, while obituaries are drafted by family members to celebrate the deceased. Although both documents are ideal for genealogical research, obituaries are more beneficial and educational.

Does everyone in Canada get an obituary when they pass on?

Determining how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada comes with certain limitations. No one is mandated to publish an obituary in the country.

Unfortunately, these legal constraints affect those seeking obituaries. Aside from the legal flexibility, there are specific reasons why obituaries aren’t published for people who die.

Firstly, some die without having people who can post an obituary for them. Also, the cost of an obituary might be costly for family members who might want to publish one.

Furthermore, when people have friction with family members, they might not publish one when they die. Suppose you have used all the avenues mentioned in this guide and can’t find someone. In that case, there might be no obituary for the specific person.

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This guide about how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada has explained all the avenues you can use. Online and offline avenues are common methods of finding a deceased person in the country.

When all options have been used, it’s possible that there may be no obituaries posted by the family members. However, it’s in your interest to keep searching to ensure you haven’t overlooked any avenue.

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FAQs about how to find an obituary for a specific person in Canada

How do I search for a specific person's obituary?

To find an individual obituary in Canada, you can use public libraries and check local histories and historical societies. You could also buy some newspapers to check if information about the deceased has been announced.

Does an obituary have to be published in Canada?

It isn't necessary to have an obituary drafted in Canada. There are no laws backing this decision, and only family and friends decide if it's appropriate. While different Canadian provinces have regulations guiding drafting obituaries, it's not under compulsion.

How do I find old obituaries in BC?

You can use the British Columbia Genealogical Society to find old obituaries in British Columbia. Many clipping files and copies of online obituaries can help you.


December 13, 2023
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