Newly transcribed finding aids

To help users find material more easily, Library and Archives Canada has transcribed some paper-based finding aids that were previously available only in the Reference Room at 395 Wellington Street. Highlighted below are a few of the finding aids that are now available online. If you want to learn more about finding aids, see this three-part series, Discover finding aids!

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Administrative Records

  • Finding Aid 18-16—Volumes 2511-2647
    Created between 1868 and 1878, these records deal with the administrative expenses of the Frontier and Dominion Police and include some applications for the proposed Mounted Force for the North-West Territories.
  • Finding Aid 18-29—Accession 1985-86/574 boxes 1-32
    This accession consists of registry records pertaining to the administration of the RCMP for the years 1940 to 1970. One group of files concerns the organization, procedures and functions of the Force including headquarters, Criminal Investigation Branch, “S” Directorate, marine and aviation divisions as well as the various divisions across Canada. Another group of records deals with the communications system ranging from the use of car radios to telex equipment. Other subjects include the filing system, RCMP reserves, and management studies. Also included are nine service files for special constables and regular members.
  • Finding Aid 18-30—Accession 1985-86/612 boxes 1-42
    The files deal with the inter-departmental committee on the Marin Commission recommendations, study groups on police associations and sovereignty control, the RCMP College, the Museum, policing in the provinces, northern patrols, memorials and cairns as well as assistance to publishers. Created between 1939 and 1980, most of the files concern routine administrative matters such as personnel, training, courses, supplies, and the band.

Supreme Court Case Files

  • Finding Aid 125-3—Volumes 3009-4067, 4294-4295
    These case files contain the collection of records created by the appellants, the respondents, the Court’s staff and the Justices for all cases brought before the Court. The finding aid is a file list that indicates volume number, case number, name of appellant, name of respondent, and the year in which the case was filed by the Court. Over 6,000 additional file descriptions for 1980–1990 case files have been added to our database.

Canadian Hydrographic Service

  • Registry files—Finding Aid 139-1—Volumes 1-29
    These files were created between 1938 and 1965 and pertain to Canadian Notices to Mariners. The Canadian Hydrographic Service was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Mines and Resources (1936–1948) and the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys (1949–1966) at the time of the creation of these files. The content of these Notices to Mariners include changes made to hydrographic charts; correspondence concerning surveys conducted in different parts of the country; reports, various committees, hydrographic instruments and equipment, and liaison with international organizations on matters concerning oceanography; monthly reports from various vessels of the service, tidal station documentation, and current surveys.
  • Ships Logs—Finding Aid 139-1—Volumes 33-66 (MIKAN 181475)
    These files relate to ships’ logs of various vessels designated for hydrographic operations under the Marine Branch of the Department of Marine and Fisheries (1905–1910, 1922–1936), the Department of Naval Services (1910–1922), the Department of Mines and Resources (1936–1948), the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys (1949–1966) and the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (1966–1967). The logs contain a diurnal record of activities and observations aboard these vessels. The earlier logs provide succinct four- to eight-line descriptions of weather conditions and ship maintenance. The information in the later logs, for the 1950s and 1960s, pertains to weather, ship maintenance activities, the day’s itinerary, the vessels’ compass course, periodic positions expressed in longitude and latitude, swell and wind conditions, barometric pressure, atmospheric temperature, and visibility. Few details of actual hydrographic work are recorded.

Tips for aviation accident research, part 2

By Mathieu Sabourin

In our previous blog post on civilian aviation accidents, we covered the main search principles for finding files on this topic in our archives. We showed you that records could generally be found in four record groups:

  • Department of National Defence fonds: R112 (1923–1936)
  • Department of Transport fonds: R184 (1936–1984)
  • Canadian Aviation Safety Board fonds: R13086 (1984–1989)
  • Transportation Safety Board of Canada fonds: R1009 (1990–present)

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of the first two record groups so you can better focus your searches.

Department of National Defence fonds

After the First World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force served as a civilian airline for the government and was therefore responsible for investigating aircraft accidents. The Civil Aviation Branch was created for this purpose in 1923.

At the time, the Department used a subject-block numeric classification system. Blocks 1021 and 1100 (all the files starting with these numbers) were reserved for aviation accident records. For example:

Screenshot of the results of an archives search. A big red arrow indicates the reference to Block 1021.

Example of a file from Block 1021.

Continue reading

Tips for aviation accident research

Let’s be honest: Finding information on a civil aviation accident is no small feat. In the federal government, organizational changes involving aviation accident management and the evolution of records classification are making the researcher’s task even harder.

But seek and, generally, ye shall find! So let’s look at how to go about researching an aviation accident effectively.

First, you need to have certain basic information on the accident you’re researching:

  • Aircraft model
  • Accident date and location
  • Aircraft registration number
  • Aircraft type (civilian or military)

This will make things easier, because the finding aids related to aviation accidents are put together based on that basic information.

You must then determine where the records you are looking for might be located, i.e., select the right record group. The following reference table will help guide your first steps:

Years of Responsibility Department Record Group Number
1923–1936 Department of National Defence

Civil Aviation Branch

RG24 / R112
1936–1984 Department of Transport
Air Services Branch (1936-1970)
Canadian Air Transportation Administration (1970-1985)
RG12 / R184
1984–1989 Canadian Aviation Safety Board R13086
1990–present Transportation Safety Board RG156 / R1009

Each record group is divided into series and sub-series. For each of those subdivisions, you will need to consult a finding aid to determine whether a file exists pertaining to your research topic. It is a painstaking process, but some aids are available online (for example, the accession “Aviation Accident Reports 1919-1977“—RG12), which narrows down the research that needs to be done at 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa.

Here are some things to take into consideration:

  • Two types of records pertain to accidents: the accident report and the occurrence investigation. They are not always filed in the same location, so you’ll have to check the entire record group to find them.
  • In the 1920s and 1930s, National Defence had the mandate to investigate accidents. Even if your research is on a civilian aircraft, consult RG24.
  • Your file could be located in the Central Registry (records originally stored in Ottawa) or in the regional registries (stored in the regions: Maritimes, Pacific, etc.).
  • Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) collection has gaps: we do not have all records pertaining to aviation accidents. Sometimes, a file simply does not exist.
  • Some records are still at the accession stage. They have been transferred to LAC but have not yet been processed by an archivist. If the description in our database contains a note to that effect, consult the links under the heading “Accession” (see “Scope and Content” in connection with the note “Please consult the related accessions”).

For example, here is a screenshot associated with the series Central Registry Files from the Transportation Safety Board fonds:

Screenshot showing that the files have indeed been acquired, but not yet processed.

List of accessions from Central Registry Files (RG156)

Each record group has its own challenges but the basic concepts explained here will help you to conduct your research effectively.

New finding aids available online

Library and Archives Canada has begun an initiative that will see the digitization and transcription of several significant finding aids. Adding these finding aids online will help users find material much more easily. We will continue to add other finding aids throughout the year, but so far, the following finding aids have been transcribed:

Finding Aid 15-25: Colonization Company Money Scrip

After the Hudson’s Bay Company transfer of Rupert’s Land and the North-West Territories to the Dominion of Canada, a few private companies were allowed to buy land to sell it through sponsored settlement schemes.

Finding Aid 15-33: Military Bounty Land Warrants, Riel Rebellion

Officers and men who served in Manitoba during the Riel Rebellion were offered free land grants in the newly opened lands of the North-West. Members could receive scrip (money certificates) equal in value to and in lieu of the land grant.

Finding Aid 9-8: Department of Militia and Defence Pre-Confederation Records – Adjutant General’s Office, United Canada Correspondence

Letters received in the Office of the Adjutant General of Upper Canada. The correspondence relates to the appointment, promotion and retirement of officers, as well as the organization of units.

Finding Aid 9-4: Department of Militia and Defence – Adjutant General’s Office, United Canada Correspondence

Letters received by the Deputy Adjutant Generals of Canada West, Canada East and United Canada, between 1846 and 1869. The letters relate to the Active and Service Militia as well as the Sedentary (Non-Service) Militia. Some of the letters were received by the Premier of the Province of Canada from 1854 to 1856, Sir Allan MacNab.

How to find references

  1. Go to the search screen for Archives Search—Advanced.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select “Finding aid number” and then in the box, enter 15-24.
  3. In the next line, select “Any Keyword” and enter a surname, a place name, or a topic.
  4. Click on the “Submit” button.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

New Finding Aid Online: Non-Permanent Active Militia

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce that a new finding aid for the Non-Permanent Active Militia, RG 9 II-B-7, is now available online. View the 8,799 lower level descriptions today!

During the First World War, units of the Non-Permanent Active Militia were called upon to perform a variety of military tasks in Canada, notably to guard strategic sites such as armouries, bridges and canals.

The files are arranged alphabetically and can include a variety of forms dealing with enlistment, medical and dental history, hospitalization, discipline, pay, discharge and subsequent correspondence relating to the individual’s eligibility for war service gratuities and other service-related issues. Attestation papers, which are completed at the time of enlistment, are present in a number of the files. They include the recruit’s name and address, next-of-kin, date and place of birth, occupation, previous military experience and distinguishing physical characteristics.

This sub-series also contains small quantities of exceptional files: for members of the permanent force, for members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) prior to embarkation overseas, for members of Royal Flying Corps, and for nursing sisters and other members of the Canadian Army Medical Corps.

Although the outside dates for the records are 1908-1983, the vast majority were created during the period 1914-1919.

Want to learn more about how to use finding aids? Consult our articles “Discover Finding Aids!” and “ Discover Finding Aids – Part Two”.

Be alerted when we have added new finding aids online by subscribing to our RSS feed.

For more information on recent announcements at LAC, visit “News”.

Veteran’s Death Cards: First World War

A new finding aid, previously only available to LAC staff, can help you find a veteran’s First World War personnel file: Veterans Death Cards: First World War.

For more information on recent announcements at LAC, visit “News.

Finding Aid 300

Federal census records offer genealogists a wealth of information.

Did you know that there are various types of early census records? These could be very useful for your research.

Our Finding Aid 300  is a comprehensive guide to early censuses and similar documents held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
The finding aid and other census information are available on the LAC website under Censuses.

Please note that some census records only include the head of a household and only provide statistical data for the remainder of the family or household. These types of censuses rarely indicate the relationship between the head of the household and other family members; other kinds of census records contain only statistical summaries.

For example, if the finding aid indicates “aggregate returns” or “recensement sommaire,” it includes statistics only.  However,  if identified as “nominal” or “nominatif” the census includes a list of names.

Happy hunting!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

A Brief Introduction to Archival and Published Material Research

Archival Documents

Archives Search provides general information on all of our archival documents, such as maps, correspondence, photographs, diaries and audiovisual material. However, some of our holdings are also described individually in detail (down to the item level).

For example, the documents in the Transport Canada collection are described broadly in this database and include some airplane accident reports, which are described in more detail.  However, in the majority of cases, you will only find general references to these accident reports.

Published Documents

Library Search functions similarly to the Archives Search. It provides general descriptions of published material, such as newspapers, books, or magazines in our holdings.

For example, in the case of magazines, you will only find general information about the publication (title, publisher, etc.), but you will not find a complete list of all the years that we possess. In addition, the description does not include the titles of the articles that are published in the magazine.

Additionally, your research may prove unsuccessful if the keywords used are not recognized by the search engine. If this happens, try searching using a synonym or an alternate spelling of the keyword.

Questions, comments or feedback? We would love to hear from you!