Canadian Military Ancestors
By George H. Cook -Second Charlottetown Detachment who volunteered for service with the Canadian Contingent for the war in South Africa. This image is part of the Canadian Copyright Collection held by the British Library, and has been digitized as part of the "Picturing Canada" project.
This guide describes resources available at the Toronto Reference Library.
Before beginning, think about the following questions:
- Was your ancestor a British soldier stationed in Canada or part of the Canadian force?
- Was your ancestor a professional soldier or an ordinary citizen who served in the militia?
- In what type of unit did your ancestor serve (cavalry, infantry, etc.)?
- Was your ancestor an officer or an enlisted soldier?
- Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 1759
- Militia Act established the Active Militia in the Canadas, 1855
- Post-Confederation Militia Act created nine military districts; the Active Militia became the Volunteer Militia and the Sedentary Militia became the Reserve Militia, 1868
- The last British troops leave Canada, 1871
- A Canadian contingent is dispatched to the South African War, 1899
Searching the Library Catalogue
Many different subject headings apply to military sources, so keyword searches may be most effective. Choose as keywords the name of the place, the name of the conflict, and/or the name of an armed forces division. Lists of participants will have the subheading Registers. Lists of casualties will have the subheading Registers of dead.
Suggested Subjects and Keywords
- Canada – Armed Forces – Registers
- Canada. Canadian Army – Registers
- Canada. Canadian Army [name of regiment] e.g. Canada. Canadian Army. Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry
- Canada – History – Rebellion, 1837-1838 – Registers
- Canada – History – War of 1812 – Registers
- Canada – Militia – Registers or [Province or County] – Militia – Registers e.g., New Brunswick – Militia – Registers, Hastings (Ont. : County) – Militia – Registers
- Canada. Royal Canadian Air Force – Registers
- Canada. Royal Canadian Navy – Registers
- Upper Canada. Militia – Registers
- World War, 1914-1918 – Canada – Registers
- World War, 1914-1918 – Canada – Registers of the dead
- World War, 1939-1945 – Canada – Registers
- World War, 1939-1945 – Canada – Registers of the dead
Armed Forces Lists
These publications list commissioned officers, not enlisted men:
- Pallas, Stephen M.,Canadian recipients of the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration and the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal
- Riddle, David K. The distinguished conduct medal to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1920
Registers of War Dead
- Thornley, Bruce Index to overseas deaths of Ontario servicemen and servicewomen : 1939-1947 Two volumes.
- Wigney, Edward H. C.E.F. roll of honour: members and former members of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces who died as a result of service in the Great War 1914-1919
- Dornbusch, C.E. The Canadian army, 1855-1965: lineages – regimental histories.
- Gregory, Michael. Compendium of Canadian regiments: a civilian's perspective
- Hughes, G.W. A marchpast of corps and regiments of the Canadian army
- Law, Clive M. Regimental numbers of the Canadian army, 1936-1960
- Stewart, Charles H. Concise lineages of the Canadian Army, 1955 to date
- Canadian expeditionary force: nominal rolls
Looking at Additional Sources
Library and Archives Canada, through Ancestors Search, has several searchable Military Databases.
- Court Martials of the First World War
- Port Roseway Associates (Black Loyalists)
- Soldiers of the First World War - CEF (1914-1918)
- Soldiers of the South African War (1899-1902)
- Ward Chipman, Muster Master's Office (1777-1785)
For further assistance contact:
Humanitites and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library 416-393-7175