Guide to Sources Relating to the Canadian Militia

About the Canadian Militia

Militia units have existed in Canada for most of the country’s history. They were formed by able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 60 who were recruited locally to support the British Regular Forces to defend against invasion or rebellion. Units were formed on a county basis, and unit officers were chosen from the local elite. They were called up if Canada was in danger and, in peacetime, were obliged to present themselves, armed, at the annual one-day muster in their locality.

The Militia Act, passed in 1855, maintained Canada’s obligation to partake in militia units but it also contained clauses for local training of a volunteer force. The troops, which included cavalry, field artillery batteries, foot artillery companies, infantry and rifle companies, were organized and the government equipped the men with the necessary arms and accoutrements. Mandatory annual drills were part of the new force’s training.

About the guide

Library and Archives Canada holds multiple records and files pertaining to the Canadian Militia, scattered throughout several fonds. This guide contains references to records and files for almost every unit in the Canadian Militia.

The guide was originally developed over many years by the late Barbara Wilson (1931–2014), an archivist with the former National Archives of Canada, now Library and Archives Canada.

Organization of the guide

The guide is divided into two parts and includes references from the following archival fonds:

  • Militia and Defence (Record Group 9; RG9)
  • National Defence (Record Group 24; RG24)
  • Governor General’s Office (Record Group 7; RG7)
  • War Office 32 (Manuscript Group 13; MG13).

The guide is not exhaustive. Many references to the appointment and promotion of officers, for example, in the RG9 I-C-1, are not included. For additional research, contact Reference Services.

Abbreviations used in the guide

CA: Canadian Army
CA (R): Canadian Army (Regular)
CASF: Canadian Active Service Force
CD: Coast Defence
CEF: Canadian Expeditionary Force
CFA: Canadian Field Artillery
CGA: Canadian Garrison Artillery
MD: Military District
NPAM: Non-Permanent Active Militia
PF Battery: Permanent Force Battery
RA: Royal Artillery
RCA: Royal Canadian Artillery
RCAC: Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
RCE: Royal Canadian Engineers
RCFA: Royal Canadian Field Artillery
RCGA: Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery
RCHA: Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
SP: Self-Propelled

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