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British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, "C" Series) 1757-1906

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About the records


From the early 1700s 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, RG 8.

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:

  1. British Military Records ("C" Series)
    1. Correspondence of the Military Secretary of the Commander of the Forces, 1767-1880
    2. Records of the Canadian Command, 1785-1883
    3. Records of the Nova Scotia Command, 1762-1899
    4. Miscellaneous records, 1757-1896, which come mostly from private sources
  2. Ordnance Records
    • Reports and Returns, 1757-1878 (volumes 1 to 89)
  3. Admiralty Records
    1. Admiralty Lake Service Records, 1814-1833 (volumes 1 to 72)
    2. 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.

Volume descriptions

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].

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

Important Note: Please read step 1 to step 4 before viewing the index cards.

Step 1: Identify the relevant microfilm from the following list.

Microfilm From To
C-11791“A” CompanyAdmiralty, Lords Commissioners of
C-11792ArmsBand, R.G.
C-11793Band, ThomasBeadell, Benjamin
C-11794Beadell, BenjaminBishop, Wm.
C-11795Bishop, W.C.Boudreau, Joseph
C-11796Boudreau, Joseph IsaieBrige, John
C-11797Brigend Place Huron Co., Ont.Buik, Thomas
C-11798Building Materials at KingstonCalder, Robert
C-11799Calder, ThomasCarr, late Pte.
C-11800Carr, Late Mrs. (wife) John Carr Pte.Chenique, Joseph
C-11801Chenique, JosephClayton, Samuel
C-11802Clayton, SamuelCollins, Thomas, Pte.
C-11803Collins, Thomas, Pte.Coteau du Lac, L.C.
C-11804Coteau du Lac, L.C.Crebassa, John George
C-11805Crebassa, J. Geo.Daly, J.C.W.
C-11806Daly, Luke (D.S.)Deane, Joseph
C-11807Deane, ThomasDetroit
C-11808Detroit, MichDownie, Wm.
C-11809Downing, Adam GiffDunn, Joseph
C-11810Dunn, JosephElliott, John
C-11811Elliott, JohnFenton, John
C-11812Fenton, Private Jas.Forbres, Jacob
C-11813Forbres, James M.D.Foy, Lewis
C-11814Foy, LewisFreer, Noah
C-11815Freer, NoahGass, John
C-11816Gass, JohnGold, Joseph
C-11817Gold, LouisGratuity
C-11818GratuityGubbins, John
C-11819Gubbins, JosephHanlon, Peter
C-11820Hanlon, PeterHay, Thomas
C-11821Hay, ThomasHill, Anthony
C-11822Hill, AnthonyHorse Guards
C-11823Horse GuardsHunter, Lieut. Gen. P.
C-11824Hunter, Peter, Lieut. GenJackson, John
C-11825Jackson, JohnJones, James
C-11826Jones (Johns) JohnKerr, Robert
C-11827Kerr, RobertLacroix, Joseph F.
C-11828Lacroix, Joseph F.Leader, William
C-11829Leader, Wm.List
C-11830ListMacaulay, George
C-11831Macaulay, GeorgeMajor of Brigade, U.C.
C-11832Major of Brigade, U.C.Maby, Peter
C-11833Maby, PeterThe Military Commissary General
C-11834The Military Commissary GeneralMilitia, U.C.
C-11835Militia, U.C.Montreal
C-11837MurphyMcDonell, Alexander
C-11838McDonell, The Hon. AlexanderMcKay, Stephen Samuel
C-11839McKay, Stephen SamuelNavy, U.S.
C-11840Navy, U.S.O'Bryan, John
C-11841O'Bryan, JohnOrder, General
C-11842OrdersParish, David
C-11843Parit, NicholasPensioners, Chelsea
C-11844Pensioners, ChelseaPope, James Capt.
C-11845Pope, James Capt.Prevost, Sir Geo.
C-11846Prevost, Sir Geo.Quinn, Mic
C-11847Quinn, Michael, Pte.Regiment, Royal Artillery
C-11848Regiment, Royal ArtilleryRegiment, 16th
C-11849Regiment, 16thRegiment, 41st
C-11850Regiment, 41stRegiment, 70th
C-11851Regiment, 70thRegiment, 100th
C-11852Regiment, 100thRegiment, Royal Canadian Rifle
C-11853Regiment, Royal Canadian RifleRichmond, Duke of
C-11854Richmond, Charles Duke ofRogers, Edward J.
C-11855Rogers, The Rev. Edward J.Routh, R.I. Comg. Genl. Canada
C-11856Roux, AbrahamSt-Jean, Paul
C-11857St-Jean dit Coitoux (ou Poitoux)Sears, James
C-11858Sears, James H.Sherbrooke, Lt. Gen.
C-11859Sherbrooke, Sir John C.Signey, Lewis
C-11860Signey, LewisSmith, M., Pte.
C-11861Smith, M., Sergt.Standard, Peabody
C-11862Stander, BenjaminStreback, Jordon M.
C-11863Strech, JohnTaylor, Brook
C-11864Taylor, BrookThompson, Mathew, Pte.
C-11865Thompson, MichaelTravis, Elisha
C-11866Travis, HenryVanhotts, George
C-11867Vanhouft, GarretWalsh, John
C-11868Walsh, JohnWellesley, Lord Charles
C-11869Wellesley, Lord CharlesWilliams, William
C-11870Williams, WilliamWoodly, George
C-11871Woodly, GeorgeZouch, Ann

Step 2: Select the microfilm number from the list in the Microform Digitization tool for British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series) - INDEX ONLY. Click on the underlined microfilm number to view the images

Step 3: 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 4: Return to this Help page to read the following sections about how to interpret the information on the index cards and how to access the original records.

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

Image e010857076

This entry indicates that the document can be found in volume 684, page 180.

Image e010857077

This entry indicates that the document can be found in volume 196, pages 122 to 126.

Image e010857078

This is an example from Loyalist muster rolls (volume 1904, pages 25, 34, 36, 43).

Image e010857079

These North-West Campaign entries are obsolete references. Volume 1848 is a list of the members of the North West Field Force of 1885. Volume 1848A does not exist. However, the scrip number is still valid; in this example, scrip number 4211. For information about scrip records for the NWFF, please see Record Group 15, Department of the Interior (MIKAN 156385). Note that these records do not contain genealogical information. The finding aids, aperture cards and volumes mentioned were not digitized and must be viewed on site.

Keep in mind that most of those veterans sold their scrip instead of using it to obtain a land grant. There is sometimes a file relating to the sale (assignment) of the scrip through a lawyer. To find a reference, use Archives Search. Enter RG15 and the surname in the search box. Those records are in series RG15-D-II-1 and are available on microfilm.

Consulting the Records

Original records 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 the following list to find the volume number and the corresponding microfilm number.

RG 8, C Series: Microfilm Reel Numbers for Records

Example: Volume 46 is on microfilm reel C-2618.

These records have been digitized. After you have found the correct microfilm reel number, select that item from the list in the Microform Digitization tool. Click on the underlined microfilm number to view the images.

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.

Use the following link for other options such as borrowing microfilm or ordering copies:

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. These records have not been digitized. The following examples are from obsolete "M" Series references.


Image e010857080

There are entries from the parish register of Christ Church Anglican, Montreal. The correct reference is MG 8 G65; however, on the microfilm, they are shown with a former archival number, MG 8 G19, volume 22, microfilm C-3023. This example is on page 121 of volume 22.


Image e010857075

This volume is a War of 1812 militia list. That volume was transferred to RG 8, volume 1717, microfilm C-3840. This example from the Lower Canada Militia is on page 62 of volume 1717.

W.O. 28 Volume Numbers

Image e010857081

These War Office 28 records relate to the period of the American Revolution and contain correspondence, letters and muster rolls of the British army, Loyalist regiments and German regiments. The originals are held at the National Archives in England. Library and Archives Canada holds transcripts of those records (microfilms C-10860 to C-10862). The page numbers on the index cards relate to those transcripts.

The full reference for the example above is:

War Office 28, volume 10, part 3, page 437 (disregard M.336), microfilm C-10862.

You will find the relevant volumes on the following microfilms:

C-10860: volume 2 to volume 5
C-10861: volume 6 to volume 10, part 1
C-10862: volume 10, part 2 to volume 10, part 4

Important note: Many of the images for volume 10 are illegible on these microfilms. You are advised to consult the originals of volume 10, which were filmed on microfilm B-2867. The page numbers from the index do not correspond to microfilm B-2867, so the only option is to borrow microfilm B-2867 to search for the relevant document. A list of volumes and microfilm reel numbers [PDF 36 KB] is available for War Office 28. The contents of volume 10 are described on pages 21 to 24 of that list.

The War Office 28 records have not been digitized. They are only available on microfilm. Use the following link for information about borrowing microfilm:

How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records.

Other resources

Other military records exist. Consult What to Search: Topics: Military for more information about those records.