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Genealogy - Canadian War Records

Updated on September 21, 2016


War records can be a wonderful wealth of genealogy information. Canada has some of the best collections of War related records to offer and many of these are now accessible online at no cost.


Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947

This is a fairly new database released by Library and Archives Canada that contains the service files of those killed in World War Two. Some of the contents will have you in tears. Telegrams to loved ones, details of death and lists of personal effects are just some of the records you may come across in these files.

Click here to access the database

A telegram from a relatives service file.
A telegram from a relatives service file. | Source

World War Two Survivors

Unless your ancestor was killed during this war can difficult to obtain records. Many who served in this war are still with us and there are privacy laws because of this. If this ancestor is now deceased you may be able to get a Genealogy package from Archives Canada by writing to, ATIP and Personnel Records Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4
Fax: 613-947-8456

If the ancestor has been deceased for less than 20 years then you may be required to provide proof of death and proof of relationship.

The Books of Remembrance

If you know for sure your Canadian ancestor died in a war, you may want to look atThe Books of Remembrance

This is a beautifully scanned collections of the books in Ottawa containing the names of those killed in 6 wars.


World War 1

The Enlistment records below should be your first stop when looking for an ancestor who served in WW1. Parents names, address, medical history and physical descriptions are usually included. If you don't have a photo or knew what your ancestor looked like a physical outline is the next best thing.

Fred Lever WW1
Fred Lever WW1 | Source

War of 1812

The best source for records from this war is Collections Canada which is part of the national Archives http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca They have recently added 73,000 images from the war of 1812 including maps, muster rolls, and claims. Collections Canada also has a large database on the other wars so make you explore that site fully.

War of 1812: Board of Claims for Losses, 1813-1848. Even if your ancestor didn’t fight in this war they may have filled out a claim for property damage. This is an amazing site to look through regardless. The claims are mostly handwritten letters that have been scanned and are fascinating to read.

William Stafford - Killed 1941
William Stafford - Killed 1941 | Source

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    • The60life profile image

      The60life 5 years ago from England

      Will do. Thanks.

    • coolenconnections profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Coolen 5 years ago from Toronto

      Thank You Judi and The60life. Make sure you look at the Commonwealth site as they include records for the UK, Australia and NZ as well :)

    • The60life profile image

      The60life 5 years ago from England

      Hi Coollenconnections- Really interesting to read about these Canadian sources.I am presently looking into the niche of the role of military records in family histories- particularly in England Wales and Ireland. An Irish ancestor I am tracing served in the British Army in the First World War- my father served in the Second World War. So although your sources are not yet directly relevant, I am always very interested to read of other military records and sources, including in this Australia and New Zealand. I do feel an affinity with the times in which these soldiers (many family men) fought,and when many died. Thanks once again.You got my vote.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      I've only had to research one Canadian WW1 soldier. He is listed on my local war memorial here in the UK as he was British and his wife was living here. As you say, Canadian records are very good - far better than ours here in the UK which are incomplete due to bombing in WWII.

      Voted up etc.