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Ontario Military Records

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Many of the Loyalists who arrived in Ontario beginning in 1784 had served in militia units attached to the British army. Until 1870, Canadian provinces were defended by units of the British army and navy. Many useful military records are at the National Archives of Canada and the War Office in Great Britain; some are on microfilm at the Family History Library. The Wiki article Canada Military Records provides more information about Loyalist and British military sources.

During the 19th century, Ontario men between 16 and 60 years of age served in reserve units of local militia organized by county. Militia members fought in military actions such as the War of 1812, the 1837 Rebellion, and the Fenian Raid of 1867, but records are few. Scattered lists of militia members are at various archives in Ontario. Some have been published in periodicals and books such as:

  • Bull, Stewart H. The Queen's York Rangers: An Historic Regiment. Erin, Ontario: The Boston Mills Press, 1984. (Family History Library book 971 M2bs.) Includes lists of officers of the York County militia in 1798, 1812, and 1837.

Additional militia returns are in the periodical articles listed in Brenda Dougall Merriman's Genealogy in Ontario, (Family History Library book 971.3 D27m, pages 184-85.)

Prisoners of War 1715-1945[edit | edit source]

Find My Past has a database called "Prisoners of War 1715-1945. In it you will find the DeWatteville (Find My Past spelled it De watterell) Regiment. This Regiment was formed in Bern, Switzerland under the command of Baron De Watteville. They were Swiss mercenaries who fought for Napoleon and were captured (in Spain?) by the British. They arrived in Canada in time for the final battles of the War of 1812. If your ancestor was in the De Watteville Regiment you should be able to find his Land Petitions in Ontario, and possibly his Military Records on the British Floor of the Family History Library. Be aware of name changes caused by British clerks recording Swiss names. My ancestor, John Grineisen's name evolved to Greenizan/Greenizen in Ontario. More can be found on this regiment in the following books and films: 941a3W A Bibliography of Regimental Histories of the British army by Arthur S. White pg 251 971M25st Canada's Soldiers: Regiments Foreign in British Service p 162. British Film 859532 Vol 679-683 Watteville's Regiment 1801-1815 W.O.25 971.3B20 Vol 52 Ontario History Pg 17: The Regiment De Watteville: Its Settlement and Service In Upper Canada by John D.P. Martin 971.3B2f V4 No. 3 Pg 18 The Ontario Genealogicl Society "From Half a World Away" by A. Leone Hinds. NOTE: The De Meuron Regiment also ended up in Ontario and an ancestor might be found in the Prisoners database referred to above.

The National Archives and Findmypast presents its Prisoners of War 1715-1945 collection. In this link you will find many different collections of war records that you can search Prisoners of war 1715-1945 Find My Past

The National Archives and Findmypast has digitised and transcribed this collection. The nature of these records varies greatly, some have lists of prisoners, and others detailed records of daily life of the prisoners, including physical descriptions of your ancestors. Find My Past Records War of 1715-1945

For each record you can view an image of the original document and a transcription of the information found in the document. Search World Records/ Prisoners of War 1715-1945

World War I (1914-1918)[edit | edit source]

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) service records are available through the Personnel Records Unit of the National Archives of Canada (see the "Archives and Libraries" Wiki article for the address). These service records contain detailed information from enlistment to demobilization (discharge). Information may include each person's date and pace of birth, address at time of enlistment, name and address of next of kin, marital status, occupation, personal description (eye and hair color, height, weight, distinctive marks or scars), and religion. When requesting information from the Personnel Records Unit, please include the person's name, rank, and regiment (if known).

If your ancestor served in the military prior to 1914 the information is public record. For those who served after 1914 the information is covered by the Privacy Act, and can be requested by next-of-kin 20 years after the death of a veteran. To submit a request write to:

Personnel Records Centre
National Archives of Canada
Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N3

The Family History Library has almost no records of Ontarians who served in 20th-century wars. To get copies of their service records, see the sources listed in the Wiki article Canada Military Records.

Websites[edit | edit source]