About the records
From 1759 to 1871, the defense of Canada was primarily the responsibility of British military and naval forces. Therefore, the military authorities created different types of documents most of which are held at the National Archives in England in various War Office and Admiralty series. However, other records created in Canada remained here when the British Forces left in 1871. Library and Archives Canada holds many of those documents and they are regrouped into one major fonds, Record Group 8 (RG8).
This fonds covers a wide range of military and naval subjects such as British regiments in Canada, the Canadian militia, the War of 1812, the Rebellion of 1837-38, the Fenian Raids, ordnance, fortifications, chaplaincies, commissariats, canals, the management of Indian affairs, the Provincial Marine Establishment, etc. Other subjects relate to civil administration, such as land, roads, bridges and public buildings.
There is also correspondence relating to appointments and promotions, claims for losses, rations for military widows, deserters, prisoners, settlers, etc. It includes muster rolls and pay lists for Loyalist regiments, militia units and British regiments. Overall, it represents 99 m of textual records and more than 100 maps and architectural drawings.
These are the principal series of records for any study of military and naval affairs, as well as civilian life, in the territories now forming Canada, in the period 1757-1906.
Within the British Military and Naval Records (Record Group 8), the records were organized in series and sub-series, then sub-divided according to subjects (eg Indians, Canals, Telegraphs), types of records (eg letterbooks, order books, muster rolls) or responsibility centres (eg Military Secretary, Adjutant General, Commissariat Office). Within these subdivisions, the sequence is generally chronological.
The three series are:
I. British Military Records ("C" Series)
A. Correspondence of the Military Secretary of the Commander of the Forces, 1767-1880
B. Records of the Canadian Command, 1785-1883
C. Records of the Nova Scotia Command, 1762-1899
D. Miscellaneous records, 1757-1896, which come mostly from private sources
II. Ordnance Records
A. Reports and Returns, 1757-1878 (volumes 1 to 89)
III. Admiralty Records
A. Admiralty Lake Service Records, 1814-1833 (volumes 1 to 72)
B. Admiralty Pacific Station Records, 1858-1903 (volumes 1 to 39)
Overview of the collection
The Preliminary Inventory [PDF 3,639 KB], published in 1954, provides an overview of the collection. It briefly describes each sub-series and provides the relevant volume numbers. This inventory is available in English only, in accordance with the long-standing tradition of describing archival records in the language of the documents.
To learn more about this fonds, consult the archival description: MIKAN 105012.
The microfilm shelf-list in Finding Aid MSS1800 contains 2,019 entries. Each entry provides a description of the contents of the volume, the volume number and the microfilm number. You can search for references in Archives Search. In the search box, enter RG8 and a keyword(s) such as:
- RG8 prisoners
- RG8 66th Regiment
- RG8 New Jersey Volunteers
If you prefer, you can view a pdf version of Finding Aid MSS1800 [PDF 15,594 KB].
There is also an Inventory of the military documents in the Canadian archives prepared by Lieut. Col. E. A. Cruikshank (Public Archives of Canada, 1910). There is a subject index at the end of that inventory.
For a more detailed search, you can use the nominal/subject index, described below.
About the index
Most of the RG 8 records were acquired in the 1870s by Douglas Brymner, who was later the Dominion Archivist. Over the following decades, Lt. Col. A. E. Cruikshank and others indexed selected volumes. The card index covers most volumes in series I A and I D. It contains over 519,000 entries arranged alphabetically. Most are personal name entries, but there are also many subject and place entries, such as battles, canals, forts, regiments, etc. It covers mostly the period of the American Revolution (1775-1783) to the mid 1800s. Series I B, I C, II and III have never been indexed. The card index was microfilmed in 1977.
How the index cards are arranged on the microfilm reels
The microfilm reels have been digitized and the images of the index cards appear in the same alphabetical order as on the microfilm reels.
How to search the index cards
Step 1: Identify the relevant microfilm from the following list. Click on the underlined microfilm number to view the images.
Step 2: You can browse through the index cards images as you would through a microfilm reel. You can move through the images one by one, or skip ahead by entering a new page (image) number in the page navigation box.
Step 3: Return to this page to read the section below on on How to interpret the index cards and consult the records.
List of volume and microfilm numbers for the digitized index cards
Notes: For the second item, Airey – Arms, the first few images are cards that are out of sequence and include entries for Airey, Ammunition, Andens, Anderdon, Anderson, Andrews and Archer. Starting on image 30, the cards are in order from Admiralty, Lords Commissioners of to Arms.
Cards may also be out of sequence on other microfilm reels, for example C-11800.
|Entry name (From - To)
|A Company: Aal, John - Admiralty, Lords Commissioners of
|Airey - Arms
|Armstrong - Band, R.G.
|Band, Thomas - Beadell, Benjamin
|Beadell, Benjamin - Bishop, Wm.
|Bishop, W.C. - Boudreau, Joseph
|Boudreau, Joseph Isaie - Brige, John
|Brigend Place Huron Co., Ont. - Buik, Thomas
|Building Materials at Kingston - Calder, Robert
|Calder, Thomas - Carr, late Pte.
|Carr, Late Mrs. (wife) John Carr Pte. - Chenique, Joseph
|Chenique, Joseph - Clayton, Samuel
|Clayton, Samuel - Collins, Thomas, Pte.
|Collins, Thomas, Pte. - Coteau du Lac, L.C.
|Coteau du Lac, L.C. - Crebassa, John George
|Crebassa, J. Geo. - Daly, J.C.W.
|Daly, Luke (D.S.) - Deane, Joseph
|Deane, Thomas - Detroit
|Detroit, Mich - Downie, Wm.
|Downing, Adam Giff - Dunn, Joseph
|Dunn, Joseph - Elliott, John
|Elliott, John - Fenton, John
|Fenton, Private Jas. - Forbres, Jacob
|Forbres, James M.D. - Foy, Lewis
|Foy, Lewis - Freer, Noah
|Freer, Noah - Gass, John
|Gass, John - Gold, Joseph
|Gold, Louis - Gratuity
|Gratuity - Gubbins, John
|Gubbins, Joseph - Hanlon, Peter
|Hanlon, Peter - Hay, Thomas
|Hay, Thomas - Hill, Anthony
|Hill, Anthony - Horse Guards
|Horse Guards - Hunter, Lieut. Gen. P.
|Hunter, Peter, Lieut. Gen - Jackson, John
|Jackson, John - Jones, James
|Jones (Johns) John - Kerr, Robert
|Kerr, Robert - Lacroix, Joseph F.
|Lacroix, Joseph F. - Leader, William
|Leader, Wm. - List
|List - Macaulay, George
|Macaulay, George - Major of Brigade, U.C.
|Major of Brigade, U.C. - Maby, Peter
|Maby, Peter - The Military Commissary General
|The Military Commissary General - Militia, U.C.
|Militia, U.C. - Montreal
|Montreal - Muroe
|Murphy - McDonell, Alexander
|McDonell, The Hon. Alexander - McKay, Stephen Samuel
|McKay, Stephen Samuel - Navy, U.S.
|Navy, U.S. - O'Bryan, John
|O'Bryan, John - Order, General
|Orders - Parish, David
|Parit, Nicholas - Pensioners, Chelsea
|Pensioners, Chelsea - Pope, James Capt.
|Pope, James Capt. - Prevost, Sir Geo.
|Prevost, Sir Geo. - Quinn, Mic
|Quinn, Michael, Pte. - Regiment, Royal Artillery
|Regiment, Royal Artillery - Regiment, 16th
|Regiment, 16th - Regiment, 41st
|Regiment, 41st - Regiment, 70th
|Regiment, 70th - Regiment, 100th
|Regiment, 100th - Regiment, Royal Canadian Rifle
|Regiment, Royal Canadian Rifle - Richmond, Duke of
|Richmond, Charles Duke of - Rogers, Edward J.
|Rogers, The Rev. Edward J. - Routh, R.I. Comg. Genl. Canada
|Roux, Abraham - St-Jean, Paul
|St-Jean dit Coitoux (ou Poitoux) - Sears, James
|Sears, James H. - Sherbrooke, Lt. Gen.
|Sherbrooke, Sir John C. - Signey, Lewis
|Signey, Lewis - Smith, M., Pte.
|Smith, M., Sergt. - Standard, Peabody
|Stander, Benjamin - Streback, Jordon M.
|Strech, John - Taylor, Brook
|Taylor, Brook - Thompson, Mathew, Pte.
|Thompson, Michael - Travis, Elisha
|Travis, Henry - Vanhotts, George
|Vanhouft, Garret - Walsh, John
|Walsh, John - Wellesley, Lord Charles
|Wellesley, Lord Charles - Williams, William
|Williams, William - Woodly, George
|Woodly, George - Zouch, Ann
How to interpret the index cards and consult the records
Most index cards provide the following information:
- Subject (name, place, regiment, etc.)
- Author and recipient
- Brief description of the document
- Date of document
- Volume number, e.g. C1819 (disregard the C prefix for volume numbers)
- Page number, e.g. p. 62
Note that the cards do not include microfilm reel numbers.
C. Volume numbers
Sample cards from the index
Consulting the records with C. volume numbers
Original records in the RG8 fonds have been withdrawn from circulation as a protective conservation measure. They were microfilmed between 1966 and 1972 and those microfilm reels have been digitized.
For index cards referring to documents in the C Series, when the cards were originally typed, a C prefix was added to the volume number. Disregard that C prefix. Make a note of the volume number and the page number. Keep in mind that only the first page number of the document is indicated on the card. The document might continue on subsequent pages.
Use one or both of the following lists to find the volume number and the corresponding microfilm number. Example: Volume 46 is on microfilm C-2618.
The following link takes you to a single-page content list that shows all the volume and microfilm numbers. The list is useful for researchers who want to be able to do a quick scroll through the list and/or print it to use as a reference guide when consulting multiple volumes in this series.
RG 8, C Series: Volume and microfilm reel numbers for the documents
The following link takes you to the digitized records. Find your volume number, then click on the underlined volume or microfilm number to view the images.
British military and naval records (RG 8, C Series) - Digitized documents
You can browse through the images as you would through a microfilm reel. You can move through the images one by one, or skip ahead by entering a new page (image) number in the page navigation box. Note that the digitized image number is not the same as the document page number.
Use the following link for other options such as visiting Library and Archives Canada to view the microfilms on site or hiring a free-lance researcher. Note that LAC does not accept copy requests for material that is digitized on our website.
How to access Library and Archives Canada records.
M. volume numbers
The original card index included some references to records that were later transferred to other RG 8 volumes or to other Library and Archives Canada collections. The following examples are from obsolete "M" Series references.
W.O. 28 volume numbers
Other military records exist. Consult Military Heritage for more information about those records.