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Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary

Archbishop Emeritus James M. Hayes

Archbishop Emeritus James M. Hayes

HAYES, Most Reverend James Martin, Archbishop Emeritus of Halifax, died on August 2nd, 2016 in the Halifax Infirmary at the age of 92.

Born in Halifax in 1924, the eldest son of the late Leonard James and Rita (Bates) Hayes, he received his education at St. Thomas Aquinas School, St. Mary’s High School, St. Mary’s College, and in 1943 entered Holy Heart Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop McNally on June 15, 1947.

Father Hayes’ first pastoral assignment was as a curate at St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was at this time that he became a regular visitor at the hospitals, bringing the sacraments to those who were ill and accompanying them and their families with prayer.

Rt. Rev. Edmund Burke - Bishop of Zion, First Vicar Apostolic of Nova Scotia

Rt. Rev. Edmund Burke - Bishop of Zion, First Vicar Apostolic of Nova Scotia

“Edmund Burke, the brilliant professor, the zealous missionary imperilling his life to prevent unprincipled traders from trafficking in rum with the Indians, the outspoken though courteous controversialist and the successful Bishop, must take a high place amongst the great men who have left their mark on the pages of our history.”

Edmund Burke was born in 1753, in Marysborough, Queen’s County, Ireland. Since Penal laws against Catholic Education were still in effect in Ireland at the time, it was necessary to go abroad to obtain a professional education, and he was sent to Paris as a young man to study for the priesthood. He returned to Ireland to accept an appointment to the parish of Kildare. The succession to the Episcopal See of his diocese had been hotly contested, and since he had supported a particular candidate for the office, opponents made his life miserable and hampered his ministry. He decided to go to Canada, knowing that there was a need for missionary priests. He arrived in Quebec at the age of 33 in the summer of 1786, to serve under Bishop D’Esglis, bishop of Quebec.

Bishop William Fraser, First Bishop of Halifax

Bishop William Fraser, First Bishop of Halifax

The time period following the death of Edmund Burke, Vicar Apostolic of Nova Scotia was an uncertain one for Nova Scotia’s Catholics. Fr. John Carroll, Bishop Burke’s nephew was appointed administrator of the Vicariate, until a suitable successor could be found.

Writing to the Propaganda Fide in Rome in July of 1824, Bishop Angus MacEachern of Charlottetown said “there is not among us one more worthy of being constituted Bishop” of that Vicariate than William Fraser; for he is a learned priest and “excellent preacher in both English and Gaelic, sound in faith and imbued “with the virtues that adorn the clerical state.’”1

William Fraser was born in Scotland in 1779, the eldest son of a large family. (How large it was is disputed, some sources say he was the eldest of 10 children, others say there were 12.) He entered the Seminary of Samalaman in Moidart, Scotland after graduating from elementary school. He was sent to the Scot’s College in Valladolid Spain where he spent 10 years in study, and was ordained in September of 1804, at the age of 25.

Archive Sources

Research Policy

Research Policy

Access to archival records may be provided for:

  1. parishioners conducting official parish business;
  2. members of religious communities conducting research for their community.

Access for other reasons will be considered on a case by case basis, and may be subject to a $50/hour research fee.  This fee will apply to research time, whether or not the sought after information is located, or proves useful to the researcher.

Requests for access must be made in writing (email or regular mail) to:

Catholic Pastoral Centre
P.O. Box 1527
Halifax, NS B3J 2Y3
Attn: Archives

By email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Include your name and credentials, your contact information, the goal of your research, and the date/time you would like to visit.  Once approved, an archivist will contact you to discuss your research needs.  Access is by appointment only, at least 3 weeks in advance. Research advice is not available on site. Visits will be monitored. Confidentiality of third parties will be respected and may limit access to some records.

Sacramental Records of Closed or Amalgamated Churches

Sacramental Records of Closed or Amalgamated Churches

Catholic Church history

Catholic Church history

Contact the Atlantic School of Theology Library, 660 Francklyn St., Halifax,NS, B3H 3B5, (902) 423-7986,  www.astheology.ns.ca/library/index.html

Sacramental Records

Sacramental Records

If you are searching for the record of your OWN Baptism, Confirmation or Marriage, please contact the Parish where the sacrament was administered directly. Please refer to the Directory to find contact information for the Parishes.

If you are uncertain as to where the sacrament may have taken place, please contact the archives office for assistance.

Please note that Parents or legal guardians may obtain sacramental records for their children if they are under the age of 18. The sacramental records of adults 18 and over must be requested by the person(s) named in the record. The record cannot be released to a Third Party, unless written proof of power of attorney is presented.

On-site Research Policy

On-site Research Policy

Research requests must be presented in writing; on paper or via email.  Written requests must include the nature of the research, the anticipated outcome, and the nature of the records sought after.  Please be as specific and include as much information as possible.

Research will be subject to a $50/hr research fee.  This fee applies to the time spent searching for documents and records, and is billable, even if the records are not found, or do not prove to be useful.  The first $50 is payable before the research begins. The Archdiocese of Halifax reserves the right to refuse a research request. Records deemed closed to the public will not be made available to researchers.

Appointments for on site research requests must be made a minimum of three weeks in advance. On Site research will be subject to the following regulations, which will be strictly enforced: 
  • Researchers must sign in when they arrive, and out before they leave.
  • Researchers are NOT permitted, under any circumstances, to enter the archives vault.
  • Researchers will work with the Archivist to determine what records or type of records would be useful, and the archivist will bring the documents up from the vault to be viewed.
  • Researchers will be closely supervised. 
  • NO FOOD OR DRINK is permitted in the research area.
  • PENCIL ONLY may be used for note taking. 
  • NO MARKS OF ANY KIND may be made on the archival documents. This precludes also the use of “sticky notes.”
  • Material must be handled as little as possible and with great care. You may be required to wear vinyl or cotton gloves.
  • A condition report on the documents will be made and signed by the researcher and the archivist before and after research takes place. The researcher will be responsible for restoration costs associated with damage to archival material inflicted during research, whether intentional or not.
  • Do no lean on archival files or volumes, or place paper on documents while taking notes.
  • Do not place anything on top of archival material. 
  • Do not rearrange or disturb in any way the order of archival material.
  • Archival material may NOT be photocopied Digital photographs may be taken, WITHOUT FLASH.
  • No archival material may be removed from the building.

Updated October 28, 2009

Home of the Guardian Angel

Home of the Guardian Angel

Sorry, we do not have access to the records of the Home of the Guardian Angel.

St. Joseph's Orphanage and St. Patrick's Boys Home, Halifax, NS

St. Joseph's Orphanage and St. Patrick's Boys Home, Halifax, NS

The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth Archives holds very limited records from these two institutions. Due to the confidential nature of these records, access to the public is not permitted. The research requests of direct descendants of former residents will be considered on a case by case basis, by written request, and may be subject to a $50/hr research fee.

Genealogical Research

Genealogical Research

The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth Archives office acknowledges that sacramental records are enormously useful to those doing genealogical research. Unfortunately, due to staffing issues, we are unable to be of assistance in this area.

However, sacramental records on microfilm are available for public access through various institutions.
  • For the former Archdiocese of Halifax, Baptismal records up to and including 1915, and First Communion*see note, Confirmation, Marriage and Death records up to and including 1925 may be viewed at Nova Scotia Archives. archives.novascotia.ca
  • For the former Diocese of Yarmouth, sacramental records on microfilm, with the aforementioned date restrictions, may be viewed at the Argyle Township Court house Archives. www.argylecourthouse.com/content/yarmouth-county-catholic-church-records-on-microfilm/
  • For sacramental records of the Diocese of Antigonish (including Antigonish, Guysborough, Pictou and Cape Breton Island) contact the Diocese of Antigonish, Chancery Office, 168 Hawthorne St., Antigonish, N.S., B2G 2L7. Phone (902) 863-3335 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
It may be possible to obtain the information contained in more recent sacrament records on a case by case basis. These records may be accessible through the individual parish where the sacrament took place. The Catholic Pastoral Center may be able to help determine which Parish may hold the records of your ancestors. Please note that, in keeping with protection of privacy legislation, the person(s) named in the record, if still living, must give written permission for the information to be released to a third party. If the person(s) named in the record are deceased, proof of death must be provided. Research of this nature may be subject to a research fee. Parishes are free to determine whether or not they can accommodate requests of this nature.

*NB: Parishes are not required, by Canon law, to keep detailed records of First Communion. As such, many parishes do not.

General historical information about Halifax and area

General historical information about Halifax and area

The Halifax Regional Library has a collection of published materials on Halifax and surrounding communities, including historical street names, place names, and older newspapers. The downtown branch of the Halifax Regional Library is at: 5440 Spring Garden Rd., Halifax, NS, B3J 1E9, (902) 490-5710, www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca

Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth |1531 Grafton St. | Halifax, Nova Scotia | B3J 2B9 | P: (902) 429-9800 | F: (902) 423-5201
Hours:  Monday to Friday: 8:30am - 12:30pm & 1:30pm - 4:30pm