Thursday, September 9, 2010

Online Data Bases For Canadian Military History

At  the September 7th.meeting of the London and Middlesex Genealogy Society I was asked about an outline of the online resources for researching veterans of the Canadian Forces. (they were thinking local of course). I will outline in a more general way what I have found so far. Local resources later.

I will list resources by event in the case of Library and Archives Canada. War is largely a Federal concern in this country so that the vast majority of  the documentation of any one of the services is held by Library and Archives Canada. This is a huge data base covering all of the wars that Canada has participated in. Not everything is online. What is online is free to use. I have covered in previous posts how one can order information from Library and Archives Canada. The data bases can give you the microfilm reel # of any topic or individual that you want to research. We can break the topics down in this way:

1. British forces in Canada. Records are with the British Archives: however , Library and Archives Canada have some copies on microfilm.For those researching an ancestor who served in a British regiment in Canada there is also “British Regiments in Canada”.



2. Militia before 1914. This can be the toughest to research. The numbers of Militia regiments across the country is staggering. Library and Archives Canada has microfilm reels of militia musters, militia payrolls, officers, and casualties.

3. The Northwest Rebellion. A list of the Officers and men killed or wounded in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. This is online and accessible.

4. The South African War 1899-1902. List of microfilm reels containing attestation papers, records of active service, etc.

5. Northwest Mounted Police(NWMP), 1873-1904 personnel records.  Why the police? They were a strong recruiting group for regiments in the Boer War and the Great War.

6.Soldiers of the First World War  Attestation papers are digitalized and free to use. The data base in the “Canadian Genealogy Center” outlines the availability of personnel records. Some are online most are not. 

7.The Second World War. Nothing much as yet, but I can imagine what a job that will be in the future. You can request service files if you have proof of the death of the veteran or permission of the veteran.

8. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial lists the country’s dead along with a short description of the veteran. 

If you are disappointed and can not find the individual that you are looking for that does not mean that he or she did not serve. Paper has been lost, destroyed, and burnt. You might have to go instead to more local resources such a newspapers.

Other Data Bases:

This could really fill a book by itself. So I will highlight the ones that I use most often.

To my mind the finest Provincial data base is “The Newfoundland Regiment and The Great War”.

“Canadian Military Force Study Group” is a forum on the Great War. It is searchable and you might find some useful information.


Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group “The Matrix Project” is an excellent source for looking at how the Canadian Corps was organized. It's not for the cursory researcher or the weak hearted. 

The Legion Magazine produces “The Last Post” a listing of the veterans who have recently passed away. The data base contains well over 100,000 names dating from 1987.

In another post I will outline some of the web pages and blogs devoted to individual counties or regiments(and battalions) that are of a more local nature. There are dozens of these and I am sure that I have missed quite a few.

Also, do not forget the printed word. There are hundreds of out of print books on the military out there. Many can be found using google books or the internet archive

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