The Canadian Expeditionary Force digitization project is complete!

How does a cultural institution like Library and Archives Canada (LAC) complete a groundbreaking digital imaging project? By bringing together a great set of ingredients, of course! Blend a team of professionals. Add a dose of technological equipment and know-how. Mix dedication and hard work for five years. The satisfying result: a comprehensive research tool for Canadians and people around the world to use.

Before the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) document scanning could begin, over 260 kilograms of brass fasteners had to be carefully removed from the files. Then another team prepared the documents for scanning based on size and condition. This was followed by the actual digital imaging using various types of scanners. The CEF project was LAC’s largest digitization endeavour to date. At its peak, this project brought together more than 50 trained professionals.

With approximately 30 million pages digitized now that the project has come to an end, LAC has provided easy access to the records of 622,290* soldiers who enlisted in the CEF during the First World War. In addition, generating over half a petabyte of high-resolution still-image data enables LAC to better protect the documents themselves for future generations.


*Although the number of files was estimated at 640,000, the final file count was 622,290. This is because for the project, LAC digitally linked the documents of soldiers who enlisted multiple times and therefore had more than one file.

19 thoughts on “The Canadian Expeditionary Force digitization project is complete!

  1. So appreciative of all your efforts to digitalize the CEF files. Hopefully you will move on to other projects that will help us budding genealogists trace our famiy.

    • Diane Tibert – This is the result returned to me, from your link:
      Result: Personnel Records of the First World War
      Search term(s)
      0 result(s) found for “BENNETT”,”FREDERICK”,”633049″.
      No result found.

      Do you see why I’m frustrated?
      Others find their people, why can’t I find mine?
      I know I have the spelling and number correct.

  2. I am so grateful for the efforts of the LAC staff on this digitization project. I have been able to find the records of my grandfather and two of his brothers who enlisted for WW I. It has been very valuable for me and the rest of our family to learn exact details about where and when they served, what injuries they had, how much they were paid, etc. Linking that info with the digitized war diaries from their units has opened up their experiences even more. My grandfather never spoke about the war to his children, so these records speak for him in a different way. It has brought our family closer together, and given us a much better understanding of this crucial time in history. Thank you again for making this possible!

  3. Congratulations on completing this massive undertaking. And a huge thank you for bringing to view the military records of our soldiers from the Great War. Each of these digitized files helps to make the sacrifices of one of our soldiers real and helps us to remember him beyond the anniversary years of the Great War.

  4. Pingback: The CEF digitization project is complete! – Flowers of the Forest

  5. Congratulations an having these files avalilable on line for benefit of educators, students and family members of those who served. In early 1980’s Thamis Gale researched close to 1,000 Black men who served in non segregated units without having the benefit of this technology. I was amazed to see that his research matched the content in these digitized files.

  6. The CEF Study Group was formed in 2004 to promote the study of the Canadian Corps in the Great War. The digitizing efforts of the LAC are the envy of other Great War researchers around the world. Now the 622,290 stories can be extracted and told at no charge. The act of “Remembrance” is via a gift and not a toll charge. Thank you for your vision LAC.

  7. How is everybody finding records?
    These links take me to guides.
    Nowhere can I find the info inside RG150.
    I want info on Frederick Bennett, 633049.
    Would anyone be kind enough to help, who has more experience than I have?

  8. You might also want to try alternative first names in your search. I found the records of one of my great uncles using his middle name instead of his given first name.

    • Mindy Boenning – He does not have a middle name. Good idea, though, and thanks.
      I would think I could find his records with just his number, and nothing else.
      And I know I have the number correct, and the spelling of his name.
      If I cannot get a picture, I can’t take part on the Veterans Banner Project going on in my town.
      They will hang banners on street poles before and during each Remembrance Day, forever, even after I’m long dead.
      To me, this is of UTMOST importance!

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