Sometimes pension records have valuable information for genealogy research. They can include where a person worked, what they did and where they lived later in life.
On this page
Before you start
Gather information such as:
- approximate year of birth
- place of residence
If you don’t know your ancestor’s occupation, here are some sources than can help.
Places to look
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the records below:
Federal government records
There are some documents relating to military and civilian pensions in various federal government records. You can search for possible references in Collection Search.
- Go to Advanced search.
- In the Database box, select Collections and fonds.
- In the box called All these words, enter a surname
In Any of these words, enter keywords like these: such as:
You can find some files relating to military pensions in these fonds:
- Department of Militia and Defence (Record Group 9)
- Department of Veterans Affairs (Record Group 38)
- Department of National Defence (Record Group 24)
For those searches, use RG9, RG38 or RG24 as a keyword in your search.
In the past, some pensions for military veterans and civilian government employees were granted by an Order-in-Council (OIC). Those government documents are explained in our Orders in Council help page.
To find out if there is an OIC for your ancestor, enter a surname and the word pension in the database’s keyword box. You can also try the keywords; allowance, gratuity and superannuation.
Here are two examples to show the range of documents:
You can also search these collections:
General tips about military pensions
Not every veteran received a pension, especially in the colonial period.
- Pensions were usually only granted to career officers.
- For the lower ranks, a pension was usually granted only for severe disability.
Discharged British soldiers who settled in Canada may have received a pension for long service or disability.
Access the records
If you find a record of interest, there may be a digital image. Some of these are available through Collection Search. Others, particularly digitized microforms, are available through Héritage.
For records that are not digitized, you will need to see them in person. If you cannot visit us in person, you may want to order copies or hire a researcher.
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) administers military pensions for those who served with the Canadian Forces.
- There are no files at VAC that date before 1914.
- Not all First World War and Second World War files have been retained.
To request another person’s records, you can apply under the Access to Information Act. You need to include:
- their written permission
or proof they died over 20 years ago, such as:
- a copy of their death record
- their obituary
- a photograph of their gravestone
Submit an Access to Information request to Veterans Affairs Canada
Government pension plans
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has records from 1980 onwards of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP).
Submit an Access to Information and Privacy request to ESDC
The first federal old age pension was introduced in Canada in 1927, but applications and files before 1980 were not kept.
Some provincial and territorial archives hold records relating to pensions.