Naturalization Records, 1915–1951

List of Declarations of Retention of British Nationality as registered in the office of the Secretary of State of Canada up to June 30, 1917

Background

The Government of Canada published detailed lists of those naturalized as stipulated by the Naturalization Act of 1914 and later acts. From 1915 to 1951, all naturalizations were published in the annual reports of the Secretary of State, who was responsible for naturalization, and in the Canada Gazette, an official publication reporting weekly on activities of the Government of Canada. Each entry typically included the person's name, country of origin, place of residence in Canada, and occupation. Names of wives and children were often included.

The lists of naturalizations published in the Secretary of State annual reports and in the Canada Gazette were recognized several years ago as being a valuable genealogical resource by a variety of people. Among them was an archivist from Library and Archives Canada who was the founding president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa. At that time, however, the technology to make them available and usable online was not readily available. Genealogists did not broadcast news of this resource at that time due to fears that the fragile paper records could be subject to significant damage through frequent handling.

In 1997, the records were brought to the attention of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal by a political science professor. Through a combination of careful planning and luck, the two Jewish genealogical societies decided to work together to make this valuable resource more accessible to the public. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal assumed responsibility for digitization, and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa funded the project.

Read the Full Story [PDF 1,944 KB] of the "discovery" and digitization of these records in an article published in the fall 2002 issue of Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy.

Based on the success of the release of the original database in 2003, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal decided to continue the digitization of the lists published after 1932 (partially funded by a grant from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies). Therefore, this database also includes a set of images searchable by month and year of publication in the Canada Gazette. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal is now indexing those lists by name in order to provide a full nominal index from 1915 to 1951. Should you wish to help, visit the Society's website.

The Records

From 1915 to 1951, the Government of Canada published the lists of names of those naturalized subjects in the annual reports of the Secretary of State (Sessional Papers) and in the Canada Gazette.

All naturalization certificates issued for the years 1915 to 1920 were published in the Secretary of State annual report of 1919-1920. In that report, the certificates were arranged by type and serial number. For the years 1921 to 1951, the lists appeared annually and the certificates were listed alphabetically by surname. In most years, there were some names added at the end of the list detailing supplementary lists or special cases such as revocations.

The naturalization certificates were issued based on the category of naturalization. Each certificate bore a letter (A, B, D, C or E) referred to as "the Series", and a number. Certificates issued in French also include the letter F after the number.

  • Series A: Certificates granted to Aliens.
  • Series B: Certificates granted to Aliens where names of minor children are included.
  • Series C: Certificates granted to Minors.
  • Series D: Certificates granted to persons whose nationality as British Subjects is in doubt.
  • Series E: Certificates granted to persons naturalized under prior Acts.
  • Series F and G: Repatriations.

Many people were naturalized under acts prior to 1914 but the original naturalization records no longer exist. However, if they interacted with the department in later years, those papers may still be available. Examples are Series E certificates, which were often issued to persons whose fathers or husbands had been naturalized earlier. The person was technically already naturalized through the naturalization of the father or husband. If the person later wanted a naturalization certificate, he/she could apply for one. Those application papers normally include much of the information that was on the father's/husband's pre-1914 papers, now destroyed.

The Database

This database is one of the few Canadian genealogical resources specifically designed to benefit those researchers with roots outside of the British Commonwealth. References located on the digitized lists can be used to request copies of the actual naturalization records, which are held by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The database provides access to two sets of records.

The first set covers the years 1915 to 1939 and contains 391,564 references to names that occurred:

  • in the 1915 to 1939 lists that were published in order of certificate number; and
  • in all supplementary lists of special cases that were added at the end of the normal annual lists for all years from 1915 to 1939.

Information on these people has been entered and is searchable by name, given name and country.

The second set covers the years 1939 to 1951 and contains the digital images of the lists published in the Canada Gazette during those years.

Information has not been entered and is not searchable by name, given name and country. It is searchable only by month and year of publication in the Canada Gazette.

The database entries reflect the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.

Search by Name: People naturalized in Canada, 1915-1939

Search Screen

The search screen enables you to search by:

  • Surname
  • Given name
  • Country

You can narrow the search by including additional search terms but keep in mind that if your request is too specific you may rule out possibilities of which you are unaware.

It is possible, for example, to search for alternative spellings of names using the wildcard characters. Also consider variations of given names, for example, Jan, Ivan, Johan and Johannes for John.

For names that would include a space such as Von Edeskuty, enter only Edeskuty.

To be naturalized in the period covered by the database, a person must have lived in Canada for five years.

If the person was a British subject by birth, he or she had no need to be naturalized.

If you don't get results, try searching for the names of the spouse or children.

Many immigrants lived in Canada without applying for naturalization, as it was not mandatory.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Search". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search Results Page

The search results page displays the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Country

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item Page

The item page has digitized images of the actual lists available in PDF format and contains the following fields:

  • Given Name(s)
  • Surname
  • Year
  • Page
  • Reference
  • Item Number

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

Search by Date: People naturalized in Canada, 1939-1951

Search Screen

The search screen enables you to search by:

  • Year
  • Month

The Month field also includes erratum and supplementary lists published each year. If you don't find the name that you are looking for in a list published for a specific month (e.g. June 1947), we suggest that you also search for erratum or supplementary lists published the same year.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Search". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search Results Page

The results summary list contains the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Year
  • Month (including erratum and supplementary lists)

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item Page

The item page has digitized images of the actual lists for each year available in PDF format. Click on the underlined image number to view an image.

How to Obtain Copies

Most lists will include the following information:

  • Name
  • Country of origin or for a wife/child, the relationship to the person being naturalized
  • Date that the certificate was issued, or the date that the oath of allegiance was taken
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Certificate number and series

If no certificate number is listed, check if the entry refers you to another surname.

Sometimes, when a person changed his surname, both names are listed, but only one entry includes the certificate number.

The information that you find on the digitized lists refer to records held by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Requests for copies of documents must be sent by mail to the under-noted office:

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

Please note that the following conditions apply:

  • Each application for copies must be submitted on an Access to Information Request Form [www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/tbsf-fsct/350-57-eng.asp] by a Canadian citizen or an individual living in Canada.
  • The request must be accompanied by a signed consent from the person concerned or proof that he/she has been deceased 20 years. Proof of death can be a copy of a death record, a newspaper obituary or a photograph of the gravestone showing name and death date.
  • The request should include the following information: surname, given name, date and place of birth, and, if known, the number of the naturalization certificate including the alphabetic Series identifier and the "F" suffix if the certificate was issued in French. Specify that you want copies of the original documents.

Credits

Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal and its volunteers, without which this project would not have been possible. Additionally, we acknowledge the support of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa in the original digitization of the lists from 1915 to 1932.