First World War Personnel Records database
Use this tool to search for files in the following record groups:
- Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF): soldiers, nurses and chaplains
- CEF volunteers who were rejected at Valcartier
- Non-Permanent Active Militia
- Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps
- Imperial Gratuities case files
This database does not include records for individuals who served in the Royal Canadian Navy or in the British air services. See our First World War: Personnel Records page for information about accessing those records.
The majority of these records are digitized, but some may need to be accessed on other websites, or are not digitized. See Access the records for more information.
Search the database
Start with a simple search using just the person’s name.
If you don’t find a reference:
- Try searching with only the first name instead of including middle names.
- Some entries only have an initial instead of a full first name. Try searching by last name only.
- Names can be written different ways. The entries reflect the spelling of names as they appear in the files. Try spelling variations of the name.
- Try the * wildcard character—for example, Fran* for Frank, Francis, François.
- Some used another name if they had already tried to enlist and been rejected, for example, for medical reasons.
- Early in the war, a married man needed his wife’s permission to volunteer for the CEF. Some men used a false name if they did not have permission to join.
- The American government did not allow its citizens to join the army of another country. Some American volunteers used a false name and place of birth.
Keep in mind that people sometimes gave false information when they enlisted.
In Date, you can enter the year of birth or a range of years.
- Some people gave a false year of birth if they were underage or considered too old to join.
Use the Specific terms drop-down menu to search for other terms.
To search by regimental number, select “Regimental number” and enter it in the box to the right.
- Most army officers, including nurses and chaplains, did not have regimental numbers. They were identified by their name and rank only
- Some people received more than one regimental number.
- At the beginning of the war, some CEF units assigned regimental numbers starting with a letter (alphabetic prefixes). The letters were later changed to numbers. Most often, the prefix letter “A” was changed to the number 4. For example, A3255 became 43255. You may find either version in the database.
- Early in the war, some CEF units used the same regimental numbers. For this reason, some regimental numbers were assigned to more than one person. Later, unique blocks of regimental numbers were assigned to each unit.
Some entries do not include details for all of the search fields. There is an ongoing project to index extra details from the CEF files about place of birth and enlistment. You may get no results if you only search those fields.
Access the records
All the CEF service files are digitized in this database. Most of the entries have two attachments: the service file and a copy of the attestation paper or enlistment form.
Click on the “PDF” image at the bottom of the viewer to view the service file in a CEF database entry. Download a copy by either
- Right clicking on the PDF image and selecting "Save as"
- clicking on the downward-facing arrow icon on the lower left of the viewer
To help preserve the fragile documents, the original CEF files are no longer available to see in person.
Digitized records on other websites
Some of the records referenced in this database are digitized on other websites.
Digitized copies of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps files are available at The Rooms (the provincial archives of Newfoundland and Labrador) and on Héritage.
To access digitized files on the website of The Rooms:
Go to the Military Service Files page
- Search the database by name or file (regimental) number.
To access digitized files on Héritage:
Search for a reference in the database
- Note the microfilm reel number (for example, T-18475), volume number and file (regimental) number in the database entry
Go to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment service files page
- Click on the microfilm reel number to access the
- Locate the file using the labels at the bottom of each image, with the volume number, file (regimental) number and name
Digitized copies of the Imperial Gratuities case files are available in the Canada, Imperial War Service Gratuities, 1919–1921 dataset on Ancestry. This subscription website is available free at LAC and many public libraries.
- CEF volunteers rejected at Valcartier
- Non-Permanent Active Militia
- Imperial Gratuities (if you cannot access the images on Ancestry)
Important notes about ordering copies:
On the order form, under Title/Description, enter the record group name. Example:
- Non-Permanent Active Militia file
Under Reference Number, enter the name, regimental number or rank (for officers), reference and volume number from the database entry. Example:
- Harry Potter, Regimental number 1803, RG9-II-7, volume 62
About the records
This database contains references to five different types of personnel records.
LAC has many other resources for First World War research:
- Military abbreviations used in service files
- How to read First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force service files
- First World War
- First World War: Personnel records
- First World War: Nurses
We wish to thank the Friends of Library and Archives Canada, who are indexing additional details from CEF service files to include in our database.
- Date modified: