Fonds - Nova Scotia Registry of Deeds fonds

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Nova Scotia Registry of Deeds fonds

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Physical description

387.4 m of textual records and other material (3250 volumes)

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Administrative history

Although entries in the Halifax deed books were made as early as 1749, the Registry of Deeds was not established until February 3, 1752, when an Order in Council required the registration of all deeds, memorials of deeds, conveyances, and mortgages pertaining to land with the Registrar in Halifax. As additional counties were created, registrars, with a degree of independence, were appointed in each county. From 1787 to 1847, the Provincial Secretary acted as the Registrar of Deeds with Deputy Registrars and offices in each of the counties and districts. Subsequently, each county and district office had its own Registrar of Deeds, although general responsibility for the registries remained with the Provincial Secretary. On January 22, 1991 an Order in Council (91-73) brought the registries and their staff into the civil service as part of the Courts and Registries Division of the Department of the Attorney General. On April 12, 1994 responsibility was transferred by Order in Council (94-292) to the Department of Municipal Affairs, later known as Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Custodial history

Each Registry of Deeds Office was responsible for maintaining its own records. However in 2003 a new Land Registration Act allowed Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations to introduce electronic land registrations based on plot registration rather than chain of title. Although local registry offices continued to exist the records were now kept in a provincial data system, At the same time SNSMR initiated a project to digitize all of the hardcopy records in the each registry. With these changes in the registration process and in record-keeping, the use of the original registers became redundant and they were scheduled for transfer to the Archives.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of original land transaction registers containing transcribed deeds, mortgages and other documents pertaining to land transactions as they were deposited by land grantees (buyers) and grantors (sellers) for most counties in Nova Scotia. Fonds also includes other documents affecting title to land which were sometimes kept in separate books such as judgment books, will books and mortgage registers. Other documents which may be recorded in the registers include: quit claim deeds, wills, mechanics liens, power of attorney, right of ways, bills of sale, and assignments. Subsequent to 1851 the Fonds also includes land grant records, mainly in microfilm format as these were required to be deposited with the Registry of Deeds offices under the Crown Lands Act (R.S., C.114, s.1).

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Records were scheduled for transfer to the Archives from Land Registry Offices across the province. Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations (SNSMR).


Land deeds were administered by the county or district and systems of arrangement were not always uniform. Series descriptions provide information about the arrangement of these records in each registration district.

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Availability of other formats

Indexes and many of the deed books are available on microfilm. Please consult the volume listing in series description (by county) to locate the appropriate microfilm reel number. Records are also available in electronic format, with an electronic searchable index, as a subscription service offered through Nova Scotia Property Online.

Restrictions on access

Access is restricted to original volumes for preservation reasons. See reference copies on microfilm. Contact a Government Records Archivist for information about obtaining access to volumes not available on microfilm.

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Associated materials

Abstracts and returns of registered deeds from the Registry of Deeds offices across the province, along with correspondence files and other records of the Registrar of Deeds (1787-1892) are located in the Department of Provincial Secretary fonds, Registrar of Deeds.

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No further accruals are expected.

General note

In the record group system the Registry of Deeds records were assigned "RG 47". This occurred at a time when no original deed registers had been acquired and the Archives holdings consisted only of microfilm reference copies. With the acquisition of original records, accession numbers have now replaced the RG 47 code.

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Predominant dates indicated in series descriptions are specifically the dates of the land transaction registers (deed books) in that series.

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