How to Search for Enfranchisement Records

On the left of the graphic, Tatânga Mânî [Chief Walking Buffalo] [George McLean] in traditional regalia on horse. In the middle, Iggi and girl engaging in a “kunik”, a traditional greeting in Inuit culture. On the right, Maxime Marion, a Métis guide stands holding a rifle. In the background, there is a map of Upper and Lower Canada, and text from the Red River Settlement collection.

By Jasmine Charette

This article contains historical language and content that some may consider offensive, such as language used to refer to racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Please see our historical language advisory for more information.

In a previous blog post, “Enfranchisement of First Nations Peoples,” I discussed the history and impact of enfranchisement on First Nation communities. This blog post explains how to search for enfranchisement records.

Some parts of your search may require an on-site visit. If you are unable to visit us, you can hire a freelance researcher or request assistance from Reference Services through our Ask Us a Question form. Please note that our research services are limited.

Collections Search

The simplest way to find enfranchisement records is through Collections Search. You can do this if you know the individual’s name at the time, the approximate year of enfranchisement and their band. Sometimes, instead of the band, records will name the agency or district that administered the band at the time.

Screenshot of the Collection Search interface and search results.

Screenshot of a search for enfranchisement records for the Moravian Agency

If you are unsure which agency or district administered the band, you can check these finding aids to identify this information. Sorted by region, the finding aids list agencies, districts and superintendencies, noting which bands were under their administration, the years of responsibility, and allows for tracing administration over time. These guides are available in our Reference Room and are all part of RG10 (Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds).

  • 10-202: British Columbia
  • 10-12: Western Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and Northwest Territories)
  • 10-157: Ontario
  • 10-249: Quebec
  • 10-475: The Maritimes (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland from 1984)
  • 10-145: Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia had a different system than the rest of Canada)

Here’s how to search for enfranchisement records with the Collections Search database.

  1. Under the “Search the Collection” menu of the LAC website, click Collection Search.
  2. In the search bar, search for “enfranchisement [NAME] [BAND/AGENCY].”
  3. In the drop-down menu, change “All” to “Archives.”
  4. Click the magnifying glass.
  5. Browse the results and select the one for the individual you are searching for.

A complete reference for a record will look something like this:

RG10-B-3, vol. 7222, file number 8015-25, title “Moravian Agency – Enfranchisement – Hill, D.C.”

Please note that the enfranchisement records you identify may be restricted and require an access request under the Access to Information or Privacy acts. For more information on these requests, please consult our site.

Orders-in-Council

A screenshot of the Collection Search database.

A screenshot of a search for the enfranchisement records of James Marsdewan

Another way to search for enfranchisement records is by searching Orders-in-Council (OICs). This is because enfranchisement was confirmed through OICs. While the OICs themselves do not include the main enfranchisement documents, they can provide the following information.

  • Whether or not someone was enfranchised
  • The band they were enfranchised from
  • Their name at enfranchisement
  • Whether or not the enfranchisement was due to marriage

With this information you may find more records in Collection Search.

OICs are indexed by year in our Red Registers, red books in our Reference Room. The registers are split into two parts. The first part lists OICs by number (which are loosely sorted by date), the second part lists keywords to help find specific OICs. Prior to the 1920s, people were mentioned individually in our Red Registers. An external tool can help you find individuals and families in later OICs—the Order In Council Lists website has an index with names of enfranchised people up to 1968.

For specific information on how to search OICs, please consult our previous blog posts “Orders-in-Council: What You Can Access Online” and “How to find Privy Council Orders at Library and Archives Canada.”

If you have any questions, are unable to identify an individual, or need assistance with navigating our holdings, please do not hesitate to contact Reference Services! We are always happy to help.


Jasmine Charette is a reference archivist in the Reference Services Division of the Public Services Branch at Library and Archives Canada.

A day in the life of a reference librarian

By Kristen Frame

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has a vast collection of published material that includes fiction and non-fiction, newspapers, government reports, Parliamentary debates, maps and atlases, music scores and recordings, and films. This blog article will give you an idea of how this vast collection helps reference librarians to answer research questions.

As a reference librarian, I receive questions on a wide variety of topics, which require different types of published material to answer. I recently received a request to find a copy of a Militia General Order from the First World War. This specific General Order from August 1915 cancelled a regulation that required married men to have consent from their wives in order to enlist. To answer this particular question, I had to make use of multiple sources of published material from our collection.

General Orders

A photograph of the title page of a book.
Department of National Defence, General Orders, 1915

I began my search with LAC’s bound copies of published General Orders from 1897 to 1945. These can be requested using our online catalogue, Aurora.

I consulted the volume from 1915, but the General Order that cancelled the requirement to have consent from wives to enlist was not in this volume.

Canada Gazette

A typed page with two columns from the Canada Gazette.
Page from Canada Gazette, August 21, 1915, that includes General Orders; image from A Nation’s Chronicle: The Canada Gazette

Next, I decided to check to see if the Canada Gazette published this General Order, as it regularly published General Orders during wartime. Issues of the Canada Gazette from 1941 to 1997 are available online in our A Nation’s Chronicle: The Canada Gazette database. Again, my search came up empty, as there was no mention of the order in the 1915 Canada Gazette.

Secondary sources

My next step was to consult secondary sources (books and articles) to see if any research had already been done on this General Order. I did find references to the General Order in the following publications:

However, these references did not include any information about where—or whether—this General Order was published. This General Order was becoming a real mystery!

Newspapers

Two newspaper articles side by side.
The Toronto Daily Star, August 20, 1915, page 7; The Globe, August 21, 1915, page 6

At this point in my research, I decided to search newspapers to confirm that this order was passed in August 1915. I searched the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail from August 1915 and found articles from both newspapers reporting that the regulations for enlistment had changed, and men were now free to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force without the consent of their wives (if married) or parents (if under 17).

Orders in Council

A typed page with General Orders 1915 at the top.
P.C. 1915–1948, Overseas Expeditionary Forces, Regulations Enlistment 1915/08/19, Actg M. M. and D. [Acting Minister of Militia and Defence], 1915/08/14 (e010920460)

Now that I had confirmation that the General Order was passed in August 1915, I felt it was likely that the government did not publish this General Order. But as a last resort, I searched our Orders-in-Council database using Collection Search. At that time, some General Orders were approved by Orders-in-Council. And there it was! At long last, I had found the General Order that cancelled the regulation requiring married men to have consent from their wives to enlist.

As you can see, the General Order was not easy to find. This particular search illustrates how many different kinds of published material can be used to answer a research question.

Do you have a question that could use the assistance of a librarian or archivist? Submit your question in writing to us today .


Kristen Frame is a Reference Librarian in the Reference Services Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Orders-in-Council database

A new version of the Orders-in-Council database is now online. Digitized images for the years 1911 to 1916 are now available, plus new descriptions for the years 1916 to 1924 have been added. You’ll also notice new sorting features available in the Results pages.

Start searching the Orders-in-Council database now!

How to access Orders-in-Council preserved at Library and Archives Canada

The article “How to find Orders-in-Council at Library and Archives Canada” explains how to find complete references to these Orders-in-Council (OICs). But then how do you access the OICs that interest you?

You have several choices: consult the originals on site, search in the Canada Gazette, consult the OICs on microfilm, or request a reproduction.

For OICs that are discoverable and accessible online, see the article on “Orders-in-Council: What you can access online.” Continue reading

How to find Privy Council Orders at Library and Archives Canada

In the article “Orders-in-Council: What you can access online” we learn that Library and Archives Canada holds the Privy Council Orders-in-Council published between 1911 and November 1, 2002. However, many of them are not available online. You must therefore do your research on site to find the full references.

Can’t come in person? You can send a reference request using the form Ask Us a Question, or you can hire a freelance researcher. Please note that our research services are limited.

Privy Council Office fonds

Orders-in-Council are part of the Privy Council Office fonds, series “Orders-in-Council,” sub-series “Minutes, Annexes and Reports.” The entire group is identified by the document group number RG2-A-1-a, an essential part of the reference number.

Indexes and registers

It is important to first consult the annual registers and indexes, which list all the Orders-in-Council submitted by the Privy Council Office and provide details to be included in the references (including order numbers and approval dates). Most registers are bound to their respective indexes.
A number of indexes and registers are on microfilm; please see the list in finding aid FA 2-6. Continue reading

Orders-in-Council: What you can access online

The term “order-in-council” refers to a legislative instrument generated by the governor-in-council, and constitutes a formal recommendation of Cabinet that is approved and signed by the Governor General of Canada. Orders-in-council address a wide range of administrative and legislative matters, from civil service staffing to capital punishment, and from the disposition of Aboriginal lands to the maintenance of the Library of Parliament.

Did you know that you can search online for some of these Orders-in-Council (OIC)? Here’s how:

Orders-in-Council from 1867 to 1916

You can search the indexes for OICs produced from July 1, 1867 to 1916.  For OICs approved from 1867 to 1910 you can view the full text online.  You can do all this using the Orders in Council database available on the LAC website.

This database will be updated over the years to extend the date range of these records through to the mid-20th century.*

Orders-in-Council from 1990 to the present

Recent OICs can be accessed online directly from the Privy Council Office website. Their database allows you to search OICs produced from 1990 to the present.  For OICs approved after November 1, 2002, you can view the full text online.

This means that OICs produced from 1911 to November 1, 2002, are not yet available online.  Upcoming blog posts will provide additional information on how to access these OICs, which are held by LAC but not yet available online.

*Correction: The Orders-in-Council database on our website will only be updated until it reaches the end of the records from 1919. Records from 1920-1970 will be digitized and made available through our Microform Digitization initiative. 

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