There has been a recent
increase in interest in genealogy and the study in particular of service
histories as they relate to ancestors and family members. This interest
has been aided by television programs with that theme, and the
proliferation of tools now available to amateur researchers, notably
through the internet. The canadiansoldiers.com website has always
focused on military, rather than personal or family, history, but due to
the overwhelming and ongoing number of requests, the following
information is provided in the hopes it may be useful.
and Archives Canada
All Canadian service
personnel have their surviving records permanently retired to the
Library and Archives Canada, a central repository for all branches of
government. Before the First World War, with the exception of
contingents sent to South Africa for the Boer War, permanent personnel
records as we know them today were not created or kept. Earlier records
at the regimental or unit level, such as muster rolls or pay lists, were
kept, and these may be found in the LAC holdings. They do not contain
personal information, and are not indexed, meaning in order to research
the service of specific individuals, one would need to know which unit
they served in first. It may be possible to research the Militia Rolls
for specific counties, if one knows only the place of residence, by
access the Department of Militia and Defence series (Record Group 9).
soldiers serving 1900-1914:
Library and Archives
Canada maintains a South Africa War database which includes reference to
personnel records, medal registers, land grant applications and
correspondence that relates to Canadian soldiers who served in the Boer
War. The database may be found at the Library and Archives Canada
soldiers serving 1914-1918 (First World War):
LAC has posted the
Attestation Papers (the forms that a soldier signed on being recruited)
for every soldier that served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force from
1914 to 1918. This was the field force that served overseas during the
First World War. Note that many soldiers attested into units that were
broken up for reinforcements, and they therefore saw combat or other
service with units other than the one they originally joined. The papers
are not a complete service history, but one document among many
chronicling their service.
The service files of the
soldiers who served in the C.E.F. are archived at LAC, and an electronic
index to finding them has been provided online:
The files include all
pertinent documentation regarding when and where they enlisted, which
units they served with, and may include other information regarding
medical history, medals and awards, personal evaluation reports, dental
history, and other miscellaneous information. Many families report that
their relatives did not talk about their military experiences,
particularly those who served in war. Service records are not
'sanitized' for the consumption of family by LAC, and prospective
researchers are warned to be prepared for the possibility that relatives
may have concealed or even fabricated elements of their personal
histories. Adverse reports, medical conditions (including venereal
disease), disciplinary actions and other potentially embarrassing
revelations may all await the researcher.
serving after 1918:
Library and Archives
Canada holds military service files for those who served after 1918,
however, except for those who died in service during the Second World
War, there is no online database for these records because of access
restrictions. There are no access restrictions on the service files for
members of the Canadian Army who died in service between 1939 and 1947,
including those killed in action, those who subsequently died of
injuries related to service and those who died as a result of accident
or illness while in service. As with the First World War, there is an
For all other military
service files (1919-1997), including Second World War (not killed in
action), access restrictions apply.
Requests for medical and dental records only of Canadian Armed Forces
members who were released from service or who died in service more than
five years ago are handled by Library and Archives Canada. From the LAC
How to Send an
Inquiry Concerning Your Own or Another Individual's Records
We try to answer inquiries within 30 days; however, due to the large
number of inquiries being received, we are currently experiencing
delays in our response times. Clients who submit a written request
should expect to wait six months for a response. Priority service is
given to people who require documentation to prove that they qualify
for pensions, allowances, claims and other benefits, therefore,
these types of requests should be clearly identified.
For projects involving research in a large number of files, the
request will be assessed by our staff to determine if current
resources can accommodate such an extensive commitment.
Your request must
To identify a
file, we require surname, full given name(s), date of birth, and
service number or social insurance number.
If you do not
know the date of birth, service number or S.I.N. (social
insurance number), secondary information (e.g., the names of
next of kin, postings, dates of service, place of enlistment)
can assist in identifying the correct individual.
section below on Access Restrictions.
what document(s) you require. If you are doing family history
research, we recommend that you request a "genealogy package,"
which will include copies of selected documents from the file
that highlight/summarize the individual's service.
We do not accept
email inquiries for these records. Inquiries must be sent by
mail or fax.
Your request can
be written as a letter or you can print off a blank copy of the
Application for Military Service Information form available in
PDF or RTF format, which should be filled in, signed and sent by
mail or fax.
Inquiries should be
sent by mail or fax to:
ATIP and Personnel Records Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4
Access Restrictions for info
on soldiers serving after 1918
personal information relating to an individual who is still
living requires that person's signed consent.
If the individual
has been deceased for less than 20 years, limited information
may be released to immediate family. Proof of death and
relationship must be provided.
There are no
restrictions on access to information relating to an individual
who has been deceased for more than 20 years. Proof of death is
Proof of Death: A
copy of a death certificate, newspaper obituary, funeral notice or
photograph of the gravestone. Note that proof of death is not
required if the individual died while in service.
Proof of Relationship: A document that clearly demonstrates the
relationship between the individual concerned and the person
requesting the record. Both names must appear on the document. A
newspaper obituary, baptismal certificate or full-form birth
certificate are acceptable. A wallet-sized birth certificate that
does not indicate parents' names is not accepted. Please do not send
original documents; photocopies are acceptable.
Immediate Family: A parent, spouse, child, sibling or grandchild of
Should you wish to submit a formal request under privacy
legislation, see: Records of the Government of Canada.
Records not Held by Library and Archives
Rejected for active Canadian Armed Forces service on medical
grounds: Library and Archives Canada does not hold military
personnel records of these individuals. These records are no longer
in existence; they were destroyed under a Treasury Board Authority,
dated 7 May 1964.
Called up for Canadian Armed Forces service during the Second World
War (1939-1945) but never enrolled: Library and Archives Canada does
not hold military personnel records of these individuals. These
records are no longer in existence; they were destroyed under a
Treasury Board Authority, dated 7 May 1964.
Pacific Coast Militia Rangers: These military personnel records were
never placed in Library and Archives Canada's custody, and it is our
understanding that they no longer exist.
Members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who enlisted for active
service but did not go overseas, Newfoundland Forces (Artillery, and
Forestry Corps), Navy and Royal Air Force (Newfoundland Enlistments)
all during Second World War (1939-1945): For records of these
individuals, you should write to:
Archives of UK
Surrey TW9 4DU
Personnel files after 1918 and the personal information contained in
them are protected by the provisions of privacy legislation. For the
same reason, the database and indexes that are used to identify the
files cannot be made available on our Web site. Only staff may