This is a short guide which will explain the various ways in which the database can be used.

Before we begin, here are some general considerations which apply, no matter which search method you choose:

  • To begin searching the database, select "Database" from the menu at the top of the page, and select "Advanced Search" from the drop down menu.
  • Once completed, the search results will appear directly below the "Search" button.
  • 20 acts appear per page; if your search results in more than 20 acts, they will appear in subsequent pages, which can be viewed by selecting the numbers at the bottom of the page.


This is the simplest method, and the best way to start.

To search by word or phrase, simply enter the text into the text box (labelled "Search for"), and click the "Search" button.


  • All text-base searches include the full text of every act included in the database.
  • Proper names are rarely spelled consistently in this period (for example, "MacDonald" will often be spelled "M'Donald"), so be sure to try multiple spellings if you don't find what you're looking for the first time. Also, be sure to check the transcribed acts for proper names as they will include variants you can search for.
  • When it comes to phrases, try searching for combinations of words as opposed to specific, structured sentences.
  • You can also search for partial words (example: a search for "wo" will result in "woman," "women," and "womb.")
  • Don't be afraid to experiment. You never know what you might find.


To search by date, select the year from the "start date" drop down menu, and a year from the "end date" drop down menu.


  • If you are looking for a single year, it is important to make the selection from both the "start date" and "end date" menu. For example, if you are searching for 1833, select "1833" from the "start date" drop down menu, and "1833" from the "end date" drop down menu.


In order to search by province, select the province you want from the "Province" menu on the right by clicking on it, and then click on the "Search" button.


  • If you wish to select more than one province for a search, you can do so by holding down the "Ctrl" (control) button on a PC, or the "Command" button on a Mac, while clicking the names of the provinces you wish to search.
  • Because the database is currently incomplete, the "Province" menu currently only lists the provinces which currently have content available, with the date range of legislation available to search.

Once the database is complete, the provinces and date ranges which will be included will be:

  • Bas-Canada (1792-1838) - these are the French copies of the Lower Canada legislation, the only province to publish acts in both languages
  • Cape Breton (1785-1820)
  • Imperial Acts - acts passed by the Imperial parliament in London but which were appended to the provincial legislative acts by the provincial assembly.
  • Nova Scotia (1758-1867)
  • Prince Edward Island (1773-1867)
  • New Brunswick (1786-1867)
  • Lower Canada (1792-1840)
  • Newfoundland/Labrador (1832-1867)
  • United Canadas (1841-1866)
  • Vancouver Island (1859-1863)


In cases where the usual search terms might not be effective, you can search for acts by "Concept" or themes. For example, the "Acadian" concept tag applies to acts which refer to Acadian lands, aboiteaux, and family names, which are rarely spelled consistently.

In order to search by "Concept," select the concept you want from the "Concepts" drop-down menu and then click on the "Search" button.


  • Only one concept can be selected at a time.
  • Concepts are meant as a categorization tool for researchers, and should not be used as a replacement for the search tool.
  • Database Construction Note: Due to the fact that categorization and tagging of legislative acts is currently underway, many acts have not yet been tagged. Please use caution if using metadata tag searches.


Jurisdictional Relevance refers to the area to which the act is to be applied. For example, if an act is applicable to the entire province, then it is a provincial act.

In order to search by "Jurisdictional Relevance", select the jurisdictional relevance you want from the "Jurisdictional Relevance" drop-down menu on the left and click the "Search" button.


  • Only one Jurisdictional relevance tag can be selected at a time.
  • Database Construction Note: Due to the fact that categorization and tagging of legislative acts is currently underway, many acts have not yet been tagged. Please use caution if using metadata tag searches


Any and all of the above listed methods can be combined to further narrow your search.


Once you have your results, appearing under the "Search" button, you can click on the name of the act to access the information on the specific act. This will include the title of the act, the province, year, its concepts, and jurisdictional relevance. You will also find a short description, information on the number of articles, and a thumbnail of the document.

To read your selected document, simply click one of the two links that are found just below the thumbnail of the document. You can choose either the original version or the transcribed version, both of which are available in PDF format.


  • If you want to keep the results of your search intact, it is best to right-click on the title of the act you wish to examine and select "open in new tab/window"


To save copies of the PDF files to your computer, you can:

  • Open the PDF file, and save it as you would any other file on your computer, or
  • Right-click on the links mentioned in the above paragraph and select "Save Link As." Follow the save dialogue as prompted by your computer.