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Last Updated: Oct 17, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Military Records Print Page


The earliest Canadian military records date back to 1665 when the French King sent troops to protect New France against attacks from the Iroquois Nation. To learn more about Canada's rich military history, and the men and women who served, explore the many resources found at the Vancouver Public Library together with online military records and collections.


Military Records


The earliest Canadian military records are associated with the Carignan-Salieres Regiment, sent by the French King in 1665 to protect New France against attacks from the Iroquois Nation. This regiment was recalled in due course, although about 1/3 of the soldiers remained in New France as settlers.

A manuscript listing of The Carignan-Salieres Regiment is available at the Library in The Good Regiment: The Carignan-Salieres Regiment in Canada, 1665-1668. An online list is also available via the Alphabetical listing of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment Officers and Soldiers (who settled in Canada) web page.

Library and Archives Canada's Genealogy and Family History section has information for researching New France

Permanent regiments, the Compagnies franches de la marine, were organized in 1683. These troops were responsible for defending all of France's North American colonies. By 1757 there were 40 companies in Canada. The regular French army, the Troops de Terre, maintained a small presence in North America. Records of both are at Library and Archives Canada. Many soldiers settled in New France when their military service ended.


Following the Seven Years War, the British Army stationed regiments in Canada and maintained a Royal Navy fleet in Halifax. Most soldiers and sailors were born in the British Isles. Few native-born Canadians were recruited.

Records of the professional British Army are at the National Archives in London, England, but copies of many records have been acquired by Library and Archives Canada.

During the American Revolution, many loyal colonials (Loyalists) served in Provincial Corps of the British Army. There were four commands, including the Northern, or Canadian, command, based in modern Ontario and Quebec and the Eastern (or Northeastern), which included Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Additional information on Loyalists is available on the Genealogy and Family History section of the Library and Archives Canada website and in the Loyalists section of this guide.

The British also hired contingents of German soldiers to serve on the British side during the Revolution, many of whom settled in Canada afterwards.

During the War of 1812, between the United Kingdom and the United States, British officers and troops were sent to Canada. After the war, many decided to remain in Canada. They were discharged and settled by the government in the Perth area.

For books relating to these topics, please see the Military Records - British Forces booklist.


In addition to professional French and later British armed forces stationed in Canada, local militias were organized both in New France and British North America. Counties (or parishes, in Quebec) had to provide companies of able-bodied men between the ages of 15 and 60. These men were required to assemble once a year on the King's birthday. Many local militias served during the War of 1812.

The Vancouver Public Library collection includes a number of sources of genealogical information derived from militia records. See our Military Records - Local Militias booklist for a list of these sources.


After Confederation, the British government withdrew its forces from Canada, and a new Canadian Permanent Force was established by the Government of Canada.

South African War
The South African War (1899-1902) marked the first time that Canada dispatched troops to an overseas war. Published sources of information on Canadian participation in the South African War is available in the Military Records - South African War booklist.

World War I
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian men and women served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I.

See the Military Records - World War I booklist for a list of published sources of information on Canadian participation in World War I available in the Vancouver Public Library collection and online.

Library and Archives Canada has produced the following useful resources:

World War II
See the Military Records - World War II booklist for a list of published sources and websites of information on Canadian participation in World War II available in the Vancouver Public Library collection and online.

Library and Archives Canada has produced the following useful resources:

Korean War
Over 25,000 Canadians served in the Korean War. See the Military Records - Korean War booklist for a list of published sources of information on Canadian participation in the Korean War available in the VPL collection and online.

The Military Records - Canadian - General booklist contains books and databases with information spanning more than one war.


Featured Booklists

Cover Art
Military Records - British Forces
The British government stationed British Army regiments in Canada for its defence from the close of the Seven Years' War (1763) until 1871.

Cover Art
Military Records - Local Militia
From the 1760s to the 1860s, local militia units were used to support British Army units stationed in Canada. From 1867 to 1880s, the departure of British forces in Canada meant militia units were the only army available on Canadian soil.


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