British Columbia Naturalization and Citizenship

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Naturalization and Citizenship before 1871
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British Columbia did not join Canada until 1871 so naturalization and citizenship were handled by the colonial government(s) before 1871. The earliest naturalization records are Oaths of Allegiance signed from 1859 and are in the British Columbia Archives. A number of finding aids for these and later naturalization records are searchable on the BC Archives website and these records are included in this online collection: British Columbia Naturalization Records, (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Many times, local newspapers reported on naturalization and citizenship hearings and decisions. For articles from the earliest years in British Columbia, search the British Colonist Online, 1858-1910. Although this newspaper was based in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, it carried news from the mainland of British Columbia as well as local news.

Christopher J. P. Hanna indexed British Columbia Naturalizations from 1859 to 1882. His index is available in the British Columbia Genealogical Society's Walter Draycott Library.  A British Columbia Genealogical Society (BCGS) volunteer is re-indexing these records and that index, an on-going project, is on the BCGS BC Research Projects page.

Naturalization and Citizenship after 1871[edit | edit source]

Prior to 1947, people born in Canada were British subjects. Anyone born in the United Kingdom or another Commonwealth country was similarly a British subject, and retained that status when he or she moved to Canada.  Aliens could become British subjects through naturalization.

The Canadian Citizenship Act, which came into force on January 1, 1947 was the first naturalization statute to introduce Canadian citizenship as an entity independent from British subject status.

Naturalization and citizenship are federal matters, but are administered by provincial courts on behalf of the federal government. The process of becoming naturalized or obtaining citizenship generates many documents and records, including correspondence, applications, oaths of residence and allegiance, and indexes created by court registries.

Because naturalization and citizenship are shared by the federal government of Canada and by the provincial government of British Columbia, records are found at both the British Columbia Archives and at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. A database of historic naturalization information is available on the Library and Archives Canada website.

BC Archives

675 Belleville Street
Victoria, BC V8W 9W2

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Public Rights Administration
360 Laurier Ave West
10th Floor
Ottawa, ON
K1A 1L1

Library and Archives Canada

Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Public Rights Administration
300 Slater Street, Third Floor, Section D
Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1

Additional Information
The following site is primarily related to Chinese-Canadian immigration.  It also contains a very useful general summary of the records and indexes available for British Columbia naturalization. .

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

British Columbia Naturalization Records, - FamilySearch Historical Records