Public service personnel records

Library and Archives Canada holds records relating to ​former federal government public servants. Those records contain information about the individual's employment history, as well as personal information. Files are retained for 80 years dating from the individual's birth date. After 80 years, all these records are destroyed.

How to send an inquiry concerning your own or another individual's records

  • Your request must be signed.
  • To identify a file, we require surname, full given name(s), date of birth and social insurance number (S.I.N.).
  • If you do not know the date of birth or S.I.N., secondary information (e.g. the names of next of kin, dates and department where employed) can assist in identifying the correct individual.
  • Consult the section below on Access Restrictions.
  • Please specify what document(s) you require.
  • We do not accept email inquiries for these records.
  • Inquiries should be sent by mail or fax to:

Personnel Records
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0N4
Fax: 613-947-8456

For a pdf form to fill in, print and mail, or to submit your request online, see Informal request for personnel records of former federal public service employees.

If you are inquiring about your own records and you left the public service less than 2 years ago, please contact the Human Resources office in the department where you were employed.

Access restrictions

  • Access to personal information relating to an individual who is still living requires that person's signed consent.
  • If the individual has been deceased for less than 20 years, limited information may be released to immediate family. Proof of death and relationship must be provided.
  • There are no restrictions on access to information relating to an individual who has been deceased for more than 20 years. Proof of death is required.

Proof of death: A copy of a death certificate, newspaper obituary, funeral notice or photograph of the gravestone. Note that proof of death is not required if the individual died while still employed with the public service.

Proof of relationship: A document that clearly demonstrates the relationship between the individual concerned and the person requesting the record. Both names must appear on the document. A newspaper obituary, baptismal certificate or full-form birth certificate are acceptable. A wallet-sized birth certificate that does not indicate parents' names is not accepted. Please do not send original documents; photocopies are acceptable.

Immediate family: A parent, spouse, child, sibling or grandchild of the individual.

Should you wish to submit a formal request under Access To Information and Privacy legislation, see: Access to and Use of Documents.

Historical files

A few personnel files were retained for historical purposes in the Public Service Commission fonds (Record Group 32). Use Archives Search - Advanced and enter keywords such as the surname and RG32 as the archival reference number.

Consult the inventory description for the Public Service Commission for information about other types of records in that fonds, such as lists of civil servants (public servants).

Annual reports

The annual reports of federal government departments sometimes include lists of employees. The annual reports of the Auditor General also include such lists for various departments. All annual reports are published in the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, available at Library and Archives Canada and many other libraries.

Department of Finance (RG 19)

Some records have survived relating to employees of various federal government departments, including establishment books (1843-1920) and superannuation registers (1870-1891). Use Archives Search - Advanced and enter keywords such as "superannuation," "establishment" and finding aid number 19-8.

Earlier records

The following records consist of applications and lists of appointments. They are not indexed by name and are not available on microfilm.

Content of volumes for Quebec, Lower Canada, Upper Canada and Canada:
Civil Service Records, 1764-1874 (RG 4 B33)
Volume Description Date
1 Applications for employment 1857
2 Applications for employment 1858
3 Applications for employment 1859
4 Applications for employment 1860-1861
5 Register of applications for offices 1842-1857
5A Register of applications for offices 1857-1867
6 Applications for employment 1862
7 Applications for employment 1863-1864
8 Applications for employment 1865-1868, 1871, 1874
9 Minutes of the Board of Examiners 1857-1858
9 Civil Service examinations 1858-1861
10 Civil Service examinations 1862-1863
11 Civil Service examinations 1864-1865
12 Civil Service examinations 1866-1868, 1871, 1874
13 Civil Service examination results & reports 1857-1861
14 Civil Service examination results & reports 1862-1868, 1871, 1874
15 Minutes of the proceedings of the Civil Service Commission 1862
16A List of miscellaneous appointments 1842-1852
18 Appointments of Surveyors 1764, 1784-1805
19 Appointments of Surveyors 1808-1821
20 Appointment of Surveyors 1822-1840
20A Returns of the Civil Establishment 1817
21 Returns of the Civil Establishment 1822, 1834-1835
22 Returns of the Civil Establishment 1840
23 List of the Civil Establishment (photostat), annotated to indicate appointments from 1777 onward 1809
Content of Volumes for Upper Canada and Canada West:
Applications for Appointments to Public Office, 1803-1876 (RG 5 B7)
Volume Description Date
1 List of Candidates for Office, naming the person recommended; arranged alphabetically 1836-1837
2 Applications for appointment, arranged alphabetically by name and office 1831
3 Civil Officers of Districts, listed alphabetically within the districts 1803-1817
4 Letters of application and of recommendation 1839-1841
4A Letters regarding the appointment of Clerks of the Peace 1844
5 Register of applicants for district offices, arranged by district 1842-1845
6 Letters of application and recommendation for employment and for relief 1840-1846
7 Letters of application and recommendation 1841
8 Letters of application and recommendation 1854-1876
9 Register of applicants for appointments, arranged by district 1838-1841
10 Register of applicants for appointments, with a list of incumbents, arranged by district; with an index 1840-1847
11 Register of magistrates and coroners, arranged by district, with an index 1840
12 Register of candidates recommended for appointments, arranged by district 1812-1816
13 Register of appointments (except magistrates and coroners), arranged by district 1842-1867
14 Letters of application and certificates 1841-1843
22 Register of appointments to offices, by office circa 1841

Post Office

The Post Offices and Postmasters database contains the names and dates of service of former postmasters and postmistresses. Note that many of these individuals were paid by commission and were not Post Office employees.

Mail couriers and those who operated rural mail service routes were hired by contract and were not Post Office employees. References to contracts can be found in the annual reports of the Postmaster General, 1851-1917. Use Archives Search - Advanced and enter keywords such as the place name and finding aid number 3-43. For records from 1839 to 1893, also try searching without a place name, using only the Finding Aid number.

Civil Service List of Canada (1883-1918)

These annual publications include the names, dates of birth, dates of appointment and salaries of federal civil servants, including some Post Office employees. Paper and microform copies are available in many libraries; use Library Search for locations.

For information about records relating to employees of provincial and territorial governments, we recommend that you start your search by contacting the relevant Provincial or Territorial Archives.

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