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Finding English & Welsh Immigrants in 20th Century Canadian Resources
Article posted: October 27, 2000
By: Fawne Stratford-Devai   Biography & Archived Articles

This issue of English and Welsh Roots offers resources and assistance for two researchers who have sent email requests for help in locating family members who came to Canada during the 20th century. I regularly receive between 200 and 400 emails a month requesting information about a variety of English and Welsh resources which have been outlined in earlier articles or, are yet to be published online.

The emails noted below are typical of a variety of requests I have received for help in locating their English/Welsh family members who came to Canada in the 20th century. I hope by publishing my responses that other researchers will benefit from the information.

Email request:
    I'm researching my family history and I had a relative who went to Canada from North Wales in about 1912-1913 ? after he was widowed in 1911. All I know about his time in Canada is that he joined the army, and later became a Cpl in the 49th Bn Canadian Infantry (Alberta Reg). And was killed in action on the 2nd of May 1916 aged 30, and is buried in Zillibeke Belgium. His name was Rees Lloyd Roberts, he was born the 9th of January 1886, to Richard and Ellen Roberts, and he came from a small village in North Wales called LLANFAIRFECHAN, which in those days was in the county of Caernarvonshire I would be eternally grateful for any information on my relative, as I have sent e-mails and letters to Canada but as yet I've received no reply.
Email request:
    I am currently an articling student attempting to locate 2 specific people who seem to have disappeared off the ends of the earth!! I am aware that there are resources and that by paying, one can have individuals located. To do so is just too much money for the client and so I am trying to do this "cheaper" -- although I appear to be hitting a lot of dead ends…Both indiviudals are living and in Ontario (I think!)
Both emails are in search of 20th century Canadian resources available for locating people. The first email request is very clear - it includes relevant details, a distinct time period and a straight forward question. The second email is more typical of those I receive - vague, unclear, lacking all detail, no defined time period except they think the individuals in question are currently residing in Ontario.

As the first email is most detailed - Canadian records for the period 1912 until his death in Belgium during the first world war while serving with the Canadian Infantry. The second email will be dealt with at the end of the article under general 20th century resources and information for locating living individuals.

Military Records for World War 1:
The April 14th, 2000 issue of English and Welsh Roots included an extensive description of ONLINE RESOURCES AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA A sample of these resources will again be high-lighted in this article in order to respond to the email questions. Readers would be advised to read the earlier issue for more complete information about a variety of resources available from the National Archives.

Soldiers of the First World War - Canadian Expeditionary Force Over 600,000 Canadians enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918). The CEF database is an index to those personnel files, which are held by the National Archives. In addition, over 173,849 pages of Attestation papers have been scanned and made accessible through the database.

Results of search
Regimental Number: 432404 Rank = CPL (Corporal)
National Archives Reference # RG 150, Acc. 1992-93/166, Box 8341 - 28

Results were also shown for the following names:
  • ROBERTS , THOMAS REES Regimental No. 2007449
    National Archives Reference: RG 150, Acc. 1992-93/166, Box 8344 - 27

  • ROBERTS , WILLIAM REES Regimental No. 477784 National Archives Reference: RG 150, Acc. 1992-93/166, Box 8346 - 51

  • Ordering the records:
    If you found the entry for the individual you are trying to locate, you can (1) order copies of the documents in the personnel file by writing to the address noted below, (2) consult the file in person at the National Archives in Ottawa or, (3) hire a professional freelance researcher to view and copy the documents on your behalf. A list of professional researchers at the National Archives is available by contacting the Archives. More information about this service is found on the Archives' website.

    Note: If there is more than one entry for the name you are searching and you cannot identify the correct person, you can send a written inquiry to the address noted below and staff of the Unit will conduct a search of the records on your behalf. Please provide as many of the following identifying details as possible:

    Surname, given names, date and place of birth, next of kin at time of enlistment (parents or spouse), place of enlistment, name of battalion.

    Inquiries should be sent to the following address:
    Personnel Records Unit
    National Archives of Canada
    395 Wellington Street
    OTTAWA, Ontario
    K1A 0N3
    fax: (613) 947-8456

    You can contact the National Archives by mail or fax. Due to the increased volume of requests for Personnel Records, the average response time is approximately sixty days. Please note that a maximum of 5 files will be copied per customer per request.

    What you can expect to receive from the Personnel File:
    The personnel files of CEF members can consist of up to two or three dozen forms, dealing with enlistment, training, medical and dental history, hospitalization, discipline, pay, and discharge or notification of death. A copy of the Attestation paper or Military Service Act Enlistment form is invariably present on the file.

    Please note that battles and exact postings overseas are not entered on personnel service documents. For information about military operations, the National Archives suggests that you consult the official history of the Canadian Army in the First World War, entitled Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, by G.W.L. Nicholson (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, 1962). This book should be available through your local library or through inter-library loan from another library.

    Immigration Records Online (1925-1935)
    The National Archives of Canada holds immigration records from 1865 to 1935. The names of immigrants arriving from overseas are recorded in passenger lists. Those arriving from or via the United States are recorded in border entry lists. A series of old nominal indexes exist for the 1925 to 1935 records. In co-operation with the National Archives of Canada, the Pier 21 Society in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has input the information from the passenger list indexes into an online database. Also included are border entries for individuals whose surname starts with the letter C. The database can be searched online at the National Archives website through Archivia Net at:

    Border Entry Records
    The National Archives of Canada holds lists of immigrants arriving across the Canada/United States border from April 1908 to 31 December 1935. These border entry records contain genealogical information about each immigrant such as age, country of birth, occupation, last place of residence in the United States and destination in Canada. Important Note: Not all immigrants crossing the border were registered. Some crossed when the ports were closed or where no port existed. Many families were not registered because one or both parents had been born in Canada or previously resided here, and they were considered Returning Canadians rather than immigrants.

    Border entries before 1908:
    Prior to April 1908, people were able to move freely across the International Boundary from the United States into Canada. If an individual entered Canada via the border before April 1908, no record of his or her immigration exists.

    Border entries 1908 to 1918:
    The lists for 1908 to 1918 are arranged by border port and date of entry. In order for you to undertake a meaningful search in these unindexed lists, it is necessary to know the port and month of arrival, otherwise you must search the lists for the appropriate region, port by port and month by month. A listing of ports and their microfilm reel numbers can be found online at:

    In response to the email inquiry, if the person arrived through an American port, a border entry record may be available. It would be necessary to borrow the microfilm from the National Archives on inter-library loan for the years in question. If the port of entry is unknown, this research could take some time.

    The researcher in question would be well advised to order a copy of the personnel file for their individual which will provide information about their place of residence at the time they joined the forces to fight overseas. From this personnel record, additional resources can be located.


    Border entries 1919 to 1924:
    From January 1919 to the end of 1924, individual forms (Form 30) were used to record immigrants entering Canada from or via the United States. The Form 30 records are arranged in a quasi-alphabetical format. This series also includes a few forms from later years. A listing of ports and their microfilm reel numbers can be found online at:

    Border entries 1925 to 1935:
    In 1925, the use of border entry lists was reinstated. For each month, the records for all ports are filed together. These records contain more information than the earlier border entry lists, including the immigrant's place of birth, the name and address of the relative, friend or employer to whom they were destined and the name and address of the nearest relative in the country from whence they came. A series of old nominal indexes exists for this period. Since the indexes include post-1935 entries, which are closed under the Privacy Act, they cannot be consulted by members of the public. A pilot project was undertaken in which entries for surnames starting with C were input into the Immigration Records Database (1925-1935). A complete database for all surnames will be produced when resources become available. In the meantime, staff of the National Archives' Genealogy Unit will undertake searches in the indexes, if sufficient identifying details, including year of entry, are provided. Note that the records for January to March 1925 are not indexed; however, individual Form 30 records are also available for those months in addition to the border entry lists by port. A listing of ports and their microfilm reel numbers can be found online at:

    Border entries 1936 to the present:
    Post-1935 records are still in the custody of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. See information under Post-1935 Immigration Records.

    Post-1935 Immigration Records
    Records of immigrants arriving at Canadian land and sea ports from 1 January 1936 onwards remain in the custody of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Requests for copies of landing records should be mailed to the following office:

    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Public Rights Administration
    365 Laurier Ave West
    15th Floor
    OTTAWA, ON K1A 1L1

    Please note that the following conditions apply:
    Applications for copies of documents must be submitted on an "Access to Information Request Form" by a Canadian citizen or an individual present in Canada. The fee is $5.00, payable to the Receiver General for Canada. The request must be accompanied by a signed consent from the person concerned or proof that he/she has been deceased twenty years. Proof of death can be a copy of a death record, a newspaper obituary or a photograph of the gravestone showing name and death date.

    The request should include the following information: full name at time of entry into Canada, date of birth, year of entry. Additional information is helpful, such as country of birth, port of entry, and names of accompanying family members.

    If you are in search of your own personal landing record, you should visit or write to your nearest Canada Immigration Centre or Canadian Consular Office. The fee is $30.00 for a certified copy for legal purposes. If you do not require a certified copy, you can submit your request on a Personal Information Request Form at no charge. Copies of Access to Information Request Forms and Personal Information Request Forms can be obtained from most Canadian public libraries and federal government offices.

    Consulting the records (1908 to 1935)
    Due to the large number of requests received by the National Archives, they are not able to undertake searches in unindexed sources such as border entry records for the period 1908 to 1924; however, you may conduct your own search by one of the following means: (1) Visit the National Archives in Ottawa. (2) Borrow the microfilm from the National Archives through their inter-library/inter-institutional loan arrangement; or, (3) The following institutions hold microfilm copies of some or all of our 1908 to 1918 border entry records:
  • Cloverdale Branch, Surrey Public Library, Surrey, BC (all ports)
  • Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton, AB (all ports)
  • Calgary Public Library, Calgary, AB (all ports)
  • Saskatchewan Archives Board, Regina and Saskatoon, SK (all ports)
  • Regina Public Library, Prairie History Room, Regina, SK (western ports only)
  • Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB (all ports)
  • Archives of Ontario, Toronto, ON (all ports)
  • Montreal Municipal Library, Central Branch, Montréal, QC (all ports)

  • Border crossings from Canada into the United States:
    The Canadian government did not keep records of people leaving the country; however, in 1895, the United States established border ports along the International Boundary and began recording arrivals from Canada. These lists are in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), WASHINGTON, DC 20408. More information is available from the NARA website at:


    The following list of records and resources is provided to assist you in working through the initial stages of your 20th century Canadian research. The list is by no means exhaustive. However it will help you to see what types of records are available as you work through your research. Researchers would be well advised to focus their research by time period and geographic area.

    If the immigrant in question settled in Canada, raised a family or died on Canadian soil, the June 25th, 1999 issue of the Global Gazette contained an article about Canadian Records of Birth, Marriage and Death which can be found online at:

    Many cemeteries do not have records of actual death dates; instead they are more concerned with burial dates. After all, it is the role of the cemetery to bury people! The easiest way to access cemetery records is through the transcriptions done by various genealogical and historical groups. For example, branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society have been transcribing and publishing cemetery inscriptions for many years. Many of these transcriptions have been indexed into a web/database known as the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid (OCFA) which is accessible online at:

    Another Cemetery Finding Aid is also available from the author of OCFA. The British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid (BCCFA - version 2) contains over 340,000 entries and is available online at:

    Note: please remember, not all cemeteries have been transcribed and not all transcriptions have been entered into this index.

    If you do manage to contact the cemetery in question, do not be surprised to find the cemetery custodian has no records prior to taking on the job. Many small cemeteries do not have complete records. Generally, there should be records for most burials in a cemetery from the early 1900s. Note: You may find that the cemetery office will refuse to provide you with burial information because the records are considered to be private, and under the Freedom of Information /Protection of Privacy Act, no information can be divulged. Unfortunately we are in the middle of many legislative changes to privacy and freedom of information as it relates to private and corporate records.

    If the cemetery is willing to disclose information, remember to ask for the contact person listed on the record for the deceased. The contact information can often lead to a living relative who may be distantly related to you and/or the family you are researching. Also make sure to ask who is buried in the surrounding graves. Quite often, family members (by blood and marriage) are buried together in adjoining plots.

    A further resource is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) which has filmed many Canadian cemetery transcriptions - the listing of relevant microfilm available will be found in the LDS Family History Library Catalogue and is also available online at:

    There is no central repository for church records (parish registers) in Canada. Many are in the custody of individual churches, church archives and provincial/territorial archives, or they have not survived. For addresses of church archives, consult published sources at your local library, such as almanacs and directories, or visit the Canadian Council of Archives' web site and consult the Directory of Archival Repositories at:

    The National Archives of Canada holds only a small collection of parish registers, none of which are comprehensive for any region. Most are transcripts rather than originals, available on microfilm and listed in their publication Checklist of Parish Registers (1986). The checklist is not yet available in electronic format. Due to the heavy volume of inquiries the National Archives receives, they are unable to conduct searches in parish registers; however, microfilm copies may be borrowed through the inter-institutional loan arrangement from the National Archives to your local library.

    The Genealogical Society of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, holds microfilm copies of church records of various religious denominations from countries around the world. In particular, they hold an extensive collection of Roman Catholic parish registers for the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario. For additional information visit the web pages for the LDS at:

    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

    LDS Family Search Internet Genealogy Service:

    The Canadian Citizenship Act came into force on 1 January 1947. From 1763 to that date, persons born in the provinces and colonies of British North America were all British subjects. Being of equal status, immigrants from Great Britain and the Commonwealth were not required to be naturalized. Citizenship and Immigration Canada holds records of naturalization and citizenship from 1854 to the present. The originals of records dated between 1854 and 1917 have been destroyed. However, a nominal card index has survived, which provides information compiled at the time of naturalization, such as present and former place of residence, former nationality, occupation, date of certification, name and location of the responsible court. The index rarely contains any other genealogical information.

    Records created after 1917 are more detailed, indicating the surname, given name, date and place of birth, entry into Canada, and in some cases, the names of spouses and children.

    Requests for copies of naturalization/citizenship records should be mailed to:

    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Public Rights Administration
    365 Laurier Ave West
    15th Floor
    OTTAWA, ON K1A 1L1
    City, municipal and regional directories will not provide you with actual information about a person' s date of birth, marriage or death. However, directories are important resources for providing clues that researchers can then link to vital events. Most of the more modern directories [and the year this starts varies with the company producing such volumes] will include the wife's name after the husband's (e.g.:Bowen, Jas (Jane) ...). In later years of the same city directory you could find and entry such as: Bowen, Jane (wid of Jas) at which point you would have a clue that sometime in the intervening period Jas Bowen died. If you are able to check directories on a yearly basis, you will have about a 18 month period in which to search at the nearest cemetery, or read the local newspaper for vital events being reported for the family.

    Please remember, directories were frequently created from data collected the year prior to the date on the cover. Sometimes it was direct collection [i.e. door to door] and sometimes it was the data from the local assessment roll that was used to make up the book. So if Jas does not appear in the 1964 directory, you can presume that he died sometime between 1962 and 1964. In which case, you could start with newspapers and other record sources beginning in about September 1963 and work backwards.

    The National Library of Canada has a large collection of city directories (many of which have been microfilmed) and are available on inter-library loan to your local library. For additional information, visit the National Library of Canada website: or contact your local library for additional information.

    Divorce in Canada prior to the 1960's was handled through a private act of the Parliament of Canada. During the latter part of the 19th century, a person wishing to obtain a divorce was first required to place a notice of intent to petition the government for an Act of Divorce, for a period of six months, in The Canada Gazette and two newspapers in the district or county in which the petitioner resided. Information given in this notice would include the names of both parties, their place(s) of residence and the grounds under which the divorce was being sought.

    The actual petition would contain more details, including the date and place of the marriage, and events surrounding the demise of the marriage. In the event of adultery or bigamy, a co-respondent was often named. If, after consideration, the petition was allowed, Parliament would pass an Act of Divorce, nullifying the marriage. A transcript of the Act was published in the Statutes of Canada for the current year. The Canada Gazette and the Statutes of Canada are available at the National Library of Canada.

    The Senate of Canada should be contacted for information on divorce proceedings for the following provinces and time periods in Ontario: 1867 to 1930. Inquiries to The Senate of Canada should be sent to the following address: Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Room 304, 3rd Floor, 222 Queen Street, OTTAWA, ON K1A 0A4 Telephone: (613) 992-2416. After the above noted dates, divorce proceedings were handled by the provincial courts. The addresses for these courts can be located under the section heading "Courts and Judges" in the Canadian Almanac & Directory Most public libraries hold copies of the almanac. On 5 April 1927, individual provinces were given the power to annul marriages. In 21 April 1931, their jurisdiction was expanded to include granting divorces, alimony, and child custody.

    For example, the Archives of Ontario have the surviving Divorce Files for 1927-1974 but hold the Indexes only for 1927-1960. For Indexes after 1960 or Divorce Files after 1974, contact the Ontario Court (General Division). For additional information about genealogical records at the Archives of Ontario, visit their website and online guide to genealogical records at:

    There is no central repository for employment records in Canada. Private companies retain their own personnel files, usually disposing of older ones after a certain period of time. Some companies maintain their own archives, or deposit older company records with a local, regional or provincial archives. To determine if employment records have survived, you must first determine if the company is still in existence, and if so, contact them regarding their holdings.

    The National Archives of Canada holds the personnel files of over 5,500,000 former military and civilian employees of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Federal Public Service. Documents in these records contain information about the individual's employment history with Federal Departments, the military units with which he or she served, pension details (if available), as well as personal information. Post-First World War military records also include medical history on enlistment and discharge, medals awarded, personal evaluation reports and dental charts.

    Records of federal civil servants are found through the National Archives of Canada which maintains custody of personnel files of former federal government civil servants. The files are destroyed after the individual's eightieth birthday, with the exception of a few files deemed to be of historical significance. For information about access to the personnel files of civil servants born less than 80 years ago, please consult the Military and Civilian Personnel Records Unit of the National Archives. The published Civil Service Lists include the names, dates of birth, dates of appointment and salaries of federal civil servants. These Lists are available for the years 1883 to 1918. They are in the custody of the National Library of Canada. The National Library also holds the published annual reports of federal and provincial government departments, which sometimes include lists of employees. The National Library of Canada has a website containing more information at:

    Requesting information from the National Archives' Personnel Records Unit: Inquiries are answered within thirty days; however, priority service is given to people who require documentation to prove that they qualify for pensions, allowances, claims, and other benefits.

    Inquiries should be sent to the following address:

    Personnel Records Unit
    National Archives of Canada
    395 Wellington Street
    OTTAWA, Ontario
    K1A 0N3
    fax: (613) 947-8456

    To identify post-First World War military service records or civilian personnel records, the Unit requires: 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, department where employed) can assist in identifying the correct individual.

    Note: Restrictions: Access to military and civilian personnel records is subject to the federal Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Canadian citizens and those present in Canada have the right to examine or receive copies of government records; however, certain information may be restricted, depending on provisions of the legislation. Post -First World War records - In accordance with the Privacy Act, access to personal information relating to an individual who is still living requires that person's written consent. If the individual has been dead for less than 20 years, limited information may be released in accordance with the Privacy Act. Proof of death and relationship must be provided. A death certificate, newspaper obituary or funeral director's notice are accepted as proof of death. There are no restrictions on access to information relating to an individual who has been dead for more than 20 years; however, proof of death is required if the individual did not die while serving with the Armed Forces. Requests can be submitted informally, by letter, or formally, using an Access to Information Request Form, available at public libraries and government information offices. Note that there is a $5.00 application fee for formal requests made under the Access to Information Act. Under the Privacy Act, you can examine or obtain copies of your own personnel file. You can also examine or obtain copies of someone else's personnel file, provided you submit that person's signed authorization to do so. There is no fee for processing Privacy Act requests.

    Records of Postmasters and Postmistresses.
    The names and dates of service of former postmasters and postmistresses can be found in the National Archives' Postal History Record Cards database. Some of the other postal employees are listed in the Civil Service Lists, but most postal workers were hired by contract rather than as government employees.

    The Post Offices Database is now available for searching online at the National Archives website: The Post Offices database documents changes of postmasters at individual post offices located across Canada. The data relate to open and closed post offices located in the ten provinces and territories.

    Records of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    (formerly the North West Mounted Police): The National Archives holds service files for R.C.M.P. and N.W.M.P. members from 1873 to 1904. After 1904, only a sample of historically significant files have been retained. Records of members who retired after 1952 are in the custody of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. For further information contact: Public Relations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 1200 Vanier Parkway, OTTAWA, Ontario K1A 0R2

    Records of the Canadian Merchant Marine must be requested by contacting: Merchant Navy Registry, Veterans Affairs Canada, P.O. Box 7700, CHARLOTTETOWN, PE C1A 8M9

    There is a mixed reception in the funeral home industry to people requesting information about services performed in time gone by. The reasons for this cautious attitude are very similar to those discussed in the section on cemetery records. Some funeral homes are courteous and will make an effort to assist researchers. Still other homes are very short and tell you that due to the Freedom of Information they are not permitted to give out any information.

    Please remember, a funeral home is a private company and under no obligation to provide any information to researchers. While actual legislation related to Freedom of Information issues and private businesses is in a transition phase, the company policy may be that there is not time in the busy schedule of the day-to-day workings to provide someone to answer a family history related request.

    If you feel that a funeral home record may be a last resort, you may try writing a letter with a return addressed, stamped envelope, giving as many details as possible about the service you believe the Funeral Home performed for the family in question. Please be sure to provide as much information as possible about the event. Most of the early records will probably be found in old cumbersome business ledgers (not in a computer). By providing at least the year of the event it will be much easier for the funeral home staff to search the ledger. Note: it is not unusual to be told that there is a fee for providing such information -- an offer to pay for service would not be amiss.

    Between 1869 and the early 1930s, over 100,000 children were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Pauper children were thought to have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help. Members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa are locating and indexing the names of these Home Children found in the passenger lists at the National Archives of Canada:

    Additional information and records regarding home children are available from the National Archives of Canada For example, the Central Registry Files of the National Archives' Immigration Branch records (Record Group 76, B 1 a) contain correspondence from various sending organizations. They include annual reports, information booklets and some lists of names of children sent to Canada.. The files cover the years 1892 to approximately 1946.

    Additional information about Home Children is available from the Young Immigrants to Canada web site: At this website you will find information about various homes and organizations, reunions, titles of books on the subject and some lists of children's names.

    In Ontario, records of land transactions after a patent has been issued by the government to the first owner and all subsequent purchases and ownership changes in a property are in the custody of the county/district land registry offices. As the records are arranged by concession and lot numbers, the geographic location of the property should be known before a search can be undertaken. The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations (MCCR) is responsible for all land registry offices in Ontario. The MCCR website can be found at: . Individuals researching properties are usually expected to visit the local land registry office in person or hire a professional researcher to undertake the research on your behalf. Similar information and restrictions will also apply to theLand Recordsof other provinces.

    Municipal records may include, local census, assessment and collection rolls, poll books, school lists, and voters' lists. Historic municipal records are often available from a provincial or municipal archives. To locate the appropriate government archives, visit the listing of Canadian Archival Resources on the Internet at: More recent municipal records should be located by contacting the clerk for the city/region/municipality in which you are interested.

    NATIONAL REGISTRATION FILE OF 1940 The National Registration File of 1940 resulted from the compulsory registration of all persons, 16 years of age and older, in the period from 1940 to 1946. This information was originally obtained under the authority of The National Resources Mobilization Act and the War Measures Act, and custody of the records was subsequently given to Statistics Canada, then known as the Dominion Bureau of Statistics.

    As a result, the National Registration File of 1940 is not subject to the confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act but is instead covered by the Privacy Act. According to this Act, where a person has been dead for more than 20 years, the information is no longer considered to be personal and could be disclosed.

    To provide third-party information from the National Registration File of 1940 for genealogical purposes, a standard fee of $48.15 is charged for each search undertaken that is successful in locating the requested record. A search can be undertaken for an individual after the following information or documentation has been provided:

  • Proof that the individual has been deceased for more than 20 years (A death certificate is preferable. However, any document which indicates the date of death, for example an obituary notice, is acceptable.);
  • The individual's place of residence during the registration period; and
  • A cheque or money order in the amount of $48.15 made payable to Statistics Canada.

  • Inquiries should be forwarded to: Census Pension Searches Unit, Census Operations Division, Statistics Canada, B1E-34 Jean Talon Building, Tunney's Pasture, OTTAWA, Ontario Canada K1A 0T6. For additional information about this important resource, visit the website of Statistics Canada at:

    The National Library of Canada holds an extensive collection of Canadian Newspapers on Microform. Microform copies are available for loan from the National Library. The catalogue of newspapers on microform is available online at:

    A few words of caution:
  • In the early years of this century, a lady did not have a name, neither did a newborn. A typical entry in the paper will read: "To the wife of Mr. Sam Jones, the baker, a son on the 12th inst."
  • Inst. = this month; Ult. = last month. These are important abbreviations to learn if you are going to read old newspapers.
  • Unless a person was VERY important, a two line obituary is all that might be found in a small town paper, and nothing in a city paper, unless it was a paid announcement. Even then it is likely to be very brief.
  • As you get closer to the present, information becomes more expansive. Small town papers began to put in more information about marriages and deaths; people in cities were more apt to pay for birth and death announcements.
  • During the 1980s, with the amalgamation of newspapers, and the takeover of local papers by big city conglomerates, the amount of news of a personal nature starts to decline. There may still be paid announcements, but the longer, free writeups, and the "gossip" columns which contained news of folks who have moved away have almost disappeared from many local papers.

    Will and Estate records are an important and invaluable resource for researching people in the 20th century. The records are the individual responsibility of each province in Canada. Researchers can contact the provincial or territorial archives to determine the availability of these records. To locate the appropriate archives, visit the listing of Canadian Archival Resources on the Internet at:

    The National Archives of Canada publishes the free booklet Tracing your Ancestors in Canada, which describes the major genealogical sources available at the National Archives and makes reference to sources in other Canadian repositories. A copy can be requested by contacting our the Genealogy Reference Service at (613) 996-7458 or download the Adobe Acrobat version of the complete text from the National Archives' website at:


    Did you know there are more than 1.5 billion names on more than 100,000 genealogical web sites on the Internet? With a few exceptions, the following list of links is aimed at providing a number of key Canadian websites from which researchers can explore the vast resources of the internet further. Many of these links will help in locating living persons.


  • Canada 411:
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    Canada GenWeb Project: The Canada GenWeb project is committed to the collection and distribution of Canadian genealogical data on the Web.

    Canadian Genealogy & History: An incredible website which includes extensive listings of genealogical and historical websites related to all areas of Canada - East to West and North to South.

    Canadian Archival Resources on the Internet: As noted earlier in this article, this website includes information about archival resources on the internet and manuscript material held in Special Collections libraries.

    Canadian Geographical Names: Conduct an interactive search of over 500,000 geographical names in Canada.

    Canadian Maps: Canadian Libraries and Library Catalogues: Maintained by the National Library of Canada, the website lists library catalogues by institution name, library websites and catalogues by region, library websites and catalogues by library type.

    Canadian Mennonite Encyclopedia: Search this extensive database of Mennonite institutions in Canada.

    Canadian Military Links: Includes links to many regimental and regional muster rolls, information and other lists.

    Canadian News Sources:

    Canadian Genealogy and History Mailing Lists Page: Includes lists of all mailing lists hosted by the GenWeb network server.

    Canadian Genealogical Research Links: This Canadian-oriented website contains listings of hundreds of websites, all relating to Canadian Genealogical studies. Canadian Genealogy Links: Includes links to genealogy chat rooms.

    Sources for Genealogical Research in Canada: Includes links to Print, Electronic & Other Resources.

    Canada - Dominion Land Grants: This is a searchable database which includes information about individuals issues Letters Patent by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. The records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia for the years 1870 to approximately 1930.

    Canadian Railway Telegraph Genealogy: A site dedicated to Canada's railway telegraph, agents, operators, and dispatchers, their locations and years across Canada.

    Generations: Memorials That Live On: Online obituaries and memorials, Canadian Directory of Funeral Homes, local church listings, funeral information and genealogical links.

    Cemetery Burial Records and Tombstone Inscriptions - Canada Listing of websites containing Cemetery Records in Canada.

    Commonwealth War Graves Commission: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of the members of the forces of the Commonwealth who were killed in the two World Wars, and to keep records and registers.

    Jewish Cemetery Project - Canada Includes lists of Jewish cemeteries in Canada.

    United Church of Canada Archives: The United Church Archives preserves the historical records of The United Church of Canada and its antecedent denominations.


    ProFusion target="_blank"> ProFusion is a Microsoft-sponsored meta-search engine, which can use up to nine Internet search engines (such as AltaVista, Google, InfoSeek, etc.) simultaneously to find names of specific people or ancestors and other relatives which may be listed on obscure web pages.

    Unlike typical search engines which, at most, index only 16% of the web pages on the Internet, meta-search engines use individual search engines to collectively bring the vastness of the internet down to size. Other meta-search sites include:

  • Dogpile
  • Fast Corporation's AllTheWeb and,
  • The Mother of All Web Sites (MAMMA) target="_blank">

  • The Ultimates target="_blank"> The Ultimates is a search engine for multiple online telephone white pages and e-mail directories. It can help you find people with the same surname you are searching for. The site is most useful when you are searching for an unusual surname.

    GENERAL GENEALOGY SITES & LINKS (primarily US based)

    FamilySearch Owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. FamilySearch allows researchers to search for ancestors using the International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) containing more than 500 million of names; Ancestral File (A.F.) with about 36 million names in linked pedigree charts; and with hyperlinks to other genealogical web sites. Most importantly, you can access the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has over two million rolls of microfilm with the names of over two billion people. Once you have identified a microfilm which interests you, you can order it online and it will be delivered to an Latter-day Saint Family History Center of your choosing near you. Don't forget to utilize the LDS online Research Guides for virtually any place or ethnic group (the Canadian Guide and relevant provincial and territorial guides are available at the following link:

    Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet: target="_blank"> A site containing more than 76,000 links and growing every day. The Canadian specific listing is found at:


    CANADopt: Canada's Adoption Presence on the World Wide Web - The intent of the site is to provide Canadians (and others) with a central location from which to gather adoption information specific to Canada.

    Canadian Adoptees Registry and Classifieds Alice & Rick McDonald run this registry out of the Barrie Parent Finders group in Ontario. FREE!!

    Parent Finders of Canada: PARENT FINDERS began in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in August 1974, to provide a support group for adult adoptees, birth relatives and adopting parents. Today, there are 30 PARENT FINDERS chapters active across Canada plus New York and Michigan states. The primary aim of PARENT FINDERS is to promote a feeling of openness and understanding about adoption and lobby for open records legislation.

    Lost and missing relatives:

    Despite the rapid advantages of technology to help us in researching our family history, we must not forget the importance of sound research skills, the need to verify all information against a variety of both primary and secondary evidence and, the importance of carefully documenting all stages of our research before sharing it with others. Please remember, whether you are searching for records online, in published sources or in other electronic products, there is absolutely NO substitute for verifying all information with original and other supporting evidence.

    Your research is the legacy you leave to others - verify all information you find!


    RESOURCE DISCOVERY NETWORK (RDN) Virtual Training Suite Resource Discovery Network (RDN): Recently announced, this new site from the Resource Discovery Network (RDN), a UK-based network of subject gateways, offers a collection of free interactive tutorials to help students, researchers, and instructors discover some of what the Internet has to offer in their subject areas. Written by specialists and librarians, each of the guides feature a tour of select key sites, tools and techniques for Internet searching, criteria for judging online resources, and a review of the key points and tips covered.

    ENGLAND. HISTORY OF THE HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT VILLAGES. Chris and Caroline Hayles, Eastleigh, Hampshire, England write that the site "has proved very popular with the Rootsweb lists and is added to every few days. [We] go out and photograph the villages frequently. There is a guest book where you can put the name of the people you are researching and there are more than 150 entries . . . We have had a 25% success rate on people finding relations or links to them in the guest book. This is not a commercial venture but set up by people interested in tracing their roots. Keep up the good work at RootsWeb, best site on the net!"

    ENGLAND. WARWICKSHIRE. Pickard Trepass writes that the Web site he is building includes such items as "transcriptions of early surveys of Warwick town (by kind permission of the Warwick County Archivist) [and] a listing of Inns and Taverns as transcribed from the 1874 White's directory of the county . . ."

    Tower Hamlets History On Line The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is considered by some to be the heart of the East End, the sometimes infamous section of London that fascinated journalists, novelists, and social scientists through the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. This site offers an excellent collection of both contemporary writings and historical essays, all taken from the Tower Hamlets' Local History Library and Archives. The site offers a fascinating look at life in the East End in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Axis - For Information on Visual Artists [Blaxxun Contact] Funded by the Arts Councils of England, Wales and Scotland, and seven regional arts boards, Axis is "the largest interactive database of contemporary British art on the Internet." Created to provide information about artists and makers living/working in Britain to a national and international audience, the database curently offers over 12,500 images from 3,300 artists and makers. Users can search the database by artist name; browse by artwork type, material, and/or region; or conduct a free-text quick search. Initial returns include a thumbnail image with the work title and date and artist's name.

    FREE HISTORICAL UK MAPS Landmark Publications have just come on-line with LARGE SCALE maps of most UK counties published by the Ordnance Survey between 1846 and 1899 (1:10,560 scale). Approximately 85,000 images are available for viewing using a standard Internet browser. No additional plug-in software is required to view the maps and although the site will work at any screen resolution, the site recommends a minimum of 1024x768.

    The Quarterly Review Project Created by Jonathan Cutmore, this site is an excellent resource for students and scholars of early nineteenth-century British literature and history. The site chronicles the early years of the Quarterly Review, one of the two most influential British journals in the first half of the nineteenth century (along with the Edinburgh Review). The brightest gem of the site is probably the index of all 61 issues of the journal for 1809-24. Another terrific resource at the site, is a subscription list from 1810, which is incorporated into the bibliographical encyclopaedia.

    Maintaining the Royal Palaces [.pdf] Executive Summary Curious about how much it costs to keep the Royals's digs looking Regal? A cool 7.2 million pounds ($10.9 million) annually, according to this report from the UK National Audit Office. After examining maintenance programs at Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Windsor Castle, the Royal Mews, and Windsor Home Park, the Audit Office found "good value for money had been achieved." Not the least, one suspects, because of the massive revenues associated with these tourist destinations. The full text of the 34-page report, along with an executive summary, are available at the above URLS.

    Devon 1891 Census Transcription Project This project aims to provide a free online searchable transcription of the 1891 Census for Devon. It is intended as a pilot project, testing out organizational procedures and specially-designed software which is hoped will prove suitable for, and encourage the undertaking of, a planned much larger project, the FreeCEN Project, that would encompass other UK counties and census years. Over fifty volunteers are already involved in transcribing microfiche copies of the Devon census. Additional volunteers are very welcome - a few more transcribers are needed, and a larger number of checkers will shortly be required to help with the upcoming checking task. The organizers welcome contact by people who are willing to organise other similar contributions, for other census years and counties. This is a great "grass roots" cooperative genealogy project. A Web page describing the present status of this project, including a list of all the completed 1891 census transcriptions that are already available in GENUKI/Devon, is available at the link noted above

    Library History Database: The British Isles ?? To 1850 This site contains information on over 27,000 libraries in the British Isles. The database draws on over 1,200 sources to provide listings of libraries all over the British Isles from the late medieval period to 1850. Data is indexed by country, and within countries by county, and within counties by place and name. Alternatively, the material is also indexed by types of libraries, including circulating, subscription, school, industrial, professional, and specialty libraries.

    Free Email Providers Guide ( While they have their good and bad points, free email services seem to pop up all the time. This useful site should be regarded as the definitive source on free email services, with a searchable database containing information on over 1,300 free email providers in more than 85 countries, free email news and commentary, and links to various other free eCommunications services, including ISPs, fax, long-distance calls, voicemail, online storage, etc. Visitors can browse the free email provider listings by category (USA, International, Special Interests, etc.), by region and country, or even better, search for the service that best suits them by selecting from a list of options (attachments, storage space, POP accessible, etc.). For dedicated free email enthusiasts, the site also produces a weekly newsletter (delivered by email of course).

    About Fawne Stratford-Devai
    Fawne Stratford-Devai's work on Land Records and early Ontario records is well known in the genealogy community. A published author of several Canadian and UK research books, she has also contributed articles to the Ontario Genealogical Society's newsletter "Families" as well as writing for the online family history newsletter the "Global Gazette". Biography

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    Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
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    The Merivale Cemeteries
    (Protestant - Ottawa area)