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  • Writer's pictureColleen Murray

Edmonton Building Permits

Building permits are an overlooked record set that you should put on your to-do list. In Edmonton, these are available on microfilm at the City of Edmonton Archives. You won’t find out the names of your ancestor’s children, but you may learn when they built a house or garage, and when they decided to do renovations. You will find out if they had an architect, and a contractor, or if they did the work themselves. You will find out what sort of lighting & fixtures were in the house, and what the cost of the work was going to be.

At first glance, this sort of information might not seem very valuable to a genealogist- and I agree, it’s probably not your first “port-of-call”. However, I have found it fascinating! The papers show who was building, even at the height of the depression. They show how many people were competent to do their own work on their house. They show the boom years, and the bust years for the entire city, just by how many building permits were issued. And, they link your ancestor to a certain place at a certain time, which everyone will agree is important in genealogy. For people who owned but rented out dwellings (hence not showing up in directories)- you may find their properties via their building permits.

Although there is an index in the back of the permit books, on microfilm this means a lot of scrolling back and forth amidst the different volumes that cover different years. And I’ve found a few things missed in the index, so sometimes it might be necessary to scroll through the records themselves.

Building permits are also great for adding to your house history!

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