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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. 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.)
World War I (1914-1918)
Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) service records are available through the Personnel Records Unit of the National Archives of Canada (see the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline 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
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 Canada Military Records.