Find out where to look for records about people who worked for private companies. Older records may consist of staff pay lists rather than an employment file for each person.
If a company still exists today, contact them through their company website to find out if they keep old employment records.
For companies that no longer exist, their records may have been lost, destroyed or donated to another archives.
On this page
Before you start
Gather information such as
- approximate date and place of birth
- name of the company where the person worked
- approximate time period when they worked there
Places to look
Some companies donate their older administrative and operational records to archives like Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
To see if there are records for a particular company:
- Go to Collection Search
- Select the Collections and fonds database and enter the name of the company in the keyword box.
Here are some examples:
Canadian Industries Limited fonds, 1916-2000 (R15655-0-3-F)
- In the fonds description, there is a link to the Finding Aid showing the contents of each volume. There are some payrolls and lists of employees.
The Steel Company of Canada (Stelco) fonds, Personnel and labour records series (R15513-9-3-E)
In the fonds description, there is a link to the Finding Aid showing the contents of each volume. To find records about workers, check the Finding Aid using keywords like:
- pay roll
- A few of those lists are digitized in our blog about the Expansion of the Montreal Rolling Mills Co.
- You may get search results from the Corporations Branch (RG95). Those records only relate to the incorporation, amalgamation and dissolution of companies. They do not contain employment records.
- Even when we hold the records for private companies, they don’t always have individual personnel files or other staff records.
Access the records
For records that are not digitized, you'll need to see them in person. If you can't visit us in person, you can order copies or hire a researcher.
Census records indicate a person’s occupation. If the person worked for a company, the company name is sometimes indicated.
If you do not know the name of the company where your ancestor worked, you might find that information in the 1940 National Registration records. Read our blog to find out more about those Statistics Canada records and how to request a search from that department.