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Top Sources for Researching Canadian Military Ancestors

Discover Details of Your Ancestor's Military Service in Canada


Discover details of your Canadian soldier ancestors' military service, with this collection of genealogical sources for military service and pension records, war memorials, military cemeteries and other military records and resources for the Canadian Armed Forces including the Canadian Army, Canadian Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Legion and British and French forces.

1. Legion Magazine - Last Post Death Notices

Search Legion Magazine's free database of death notices for Royal Canadian Legion members with military backgrounds, Canadian war veterans and Legion members with police service. Death notices go back to 1928, but the online database currently goes back to January 1985 with over 195,905 names.

2. Soldiers of the First World War - Canadian Expeditionary Forces

Search this free online index from Library and Archives Canada to service records of the 600,000 men and women who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918) as soldiers, nurses and chaplains. Scanned images of most of the Attestation papers are also available in the database. See Soldiers of the First World War - CEF for additional information on these records including how to order copies.

3. War Diaries of the First World War

From the start of the First World War, CEF units were required to maintain a daily account of their "Actions in the Field," in a log called a War Diary. These digitized online War Diaries present a historical record of a unit’s administration, operations and activities during the First World War. They are not personal diaries of individual soldiers. Free online from Library and Archives Canada.

4. Canadian Military History Books Online

Almost two dozen official military history books published from 1919-1970 are available for free download and viewing online from National Defence. These books cover a range of military units and years, including histories of Canadian Naval Aviation, Canadian Medical Services and the Canadian Army during WWI and WWII.

5. Canadian Air Aces & Heroes

View photographs and profiles of Canada's WWI champions of military flight, including documentation on medals, aircraft, and the course of the war.

6. Canadian Post-War Military and Dependent Graves

Following WWI, members of the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Airforce began tours of duty in Germany and in France in 1951. In 1953, with the official openings of Camps and Wings, wives and children were allowed to join their husbands and fathers. Members of the Canadian military were in France until the mid-1960s and Germany until the mid-1990s. Those who unfortunately died while overseas were not returned to Canada but were buried in either military cemeteries or, in the case of dependants, in gravesites leased from the local cemetery.

7. Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Debt of Honour Register

Maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this free online register provides personal, service, and burial location details for 1.7 million Commonwealth soldiers who died during WWI or WWI, covering 148 countries and over 23,000 burial grounds. The Debt of Honour Register includes the names of the 110,000 war dead of Canada.

8. Veteran Affairs Canada - The Books of Remembrance

The Books of Remembrance contain the names of Canadians who fought and lost their lives in wars, including the First World War, Second World War, Newfoundland, the Korean War, the South African War/Nile Expedition and even service in Afghanistan.

9. Second World War Service Files - Canadian Armed Forces War Dead

Only the files for Canadians who died in service during the Second World War are opened to the public and are grouped as a collection within the Department of National Defence Fonds (Record Group 24). In order to be included in this collection, the individual's name must appear in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Debt of Honour Register or The Books of Remembrance. This free database provides the name, date of birth and service number for over 44,093 Canadians who lost their lives, along with instructions for ordering copies of their complete file.

10. Soldiers of the South African War

Library and Archives Canada holds the service files of those who served with the Canadian Armed Forces from the South African War (1899-1902). These records for the South African War are indexed and can be searched online in the free Soldiers of the South African War database.

11. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Search this free database to locate information about the graves and memorials of more than 116,000 Canadians and Newfoundlers who served valiantly and gave their lives for their country, including more than 1500 who died in service to Canada since the Korean War.

12. Olive Tree Genealogy: War of 1812 Canadian Muster Rolls

Browse this free online listing of Canadian muster rolls, including the First Muster Roll, Corps of Canadian Volunteers, 18 July 1813 - 31 August 1813, for your Canadian ancestors who served during the War of 1812. From Olive Tree Genealogy.

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