War of 1812
Find sources for researching the War of 1812.
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Before you start
If you are doing genealogy research, gather information such as:
- approximate date and place of birth
- military unit the person served with
Places to look
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds a collection of records that consists mainly of muster rolls, paylists, claims, certificates of service, and medal registers.
1. Nominal rolls and other records
LAC holds nominal rolls and paylists of personnel who served in the militia of Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) during the War of 1812. Paylists contain the names of personnel, the periods for which they were paid and the amount of money they received.
Nominal rolls sometimes contain such information as age, residence and date of enlistment. They are usually grouped by unit or county. We hold two collections of nominal rolls and paylists:
Our War of 1812 database contains references to 45,000 names from our other collections of muster rolls, pay lists, claims, certificates of service, land grants and medal registers. A list of the records included in that database is found on the database help page.
2. Claims for losses
LAC holds records related to the work of the commission and boards of claims for War of 1812 losses. These records include proceedings, letterbooks, and vouchers for supplementary payments. The type of claims investigated included claims for damage done by soldiers on all sides of the war and damage sustained in transporting troops, goods, etc. A total of 2,055 claims were presented to the board.
The records are searchable by name in our War of 1812 database. If you find a reference in the database, you can look at the record in the digitized microfilm.
3. Historic maps
We hold a number of historic maps related to the War of 1812. A sample of our collection includes the following:
- George Williams, Sketch of part of the river Chateauguay, 1814
- James Grant Chewett, Plan of the central part of the province of Upper Canada. Shewing the seat of war in the years 1812, 1813 & 1814. York 1st May 1819. J.G. Chewett, L.S
- Sketch of action fought at Williamsburg, Upper Canada [Crysler's Farm] between a detachment of the centre division of the British army under the command of Lieut. Col. Morrison 89 regiment and a division of the American army under Brigr. Genl. Boyd on the 11th November 1813, Anonymous, 1814.
- John George Toler, Sketch of the position of Castine in the Bay of Penobscot J.G. Toler, draftsman, Royl. Engr. Dept., April 1815
- Sketch of Prescott and its Posts. 1st November 1812, Anonymous
- John George Toler, Map of the northern part of the state of New York & c. Compiled from a survey by Amos Lay & others. John G. Toler, draftsman Royl. Engr. Dept. Feby. 11th 1814
4. Other archival records
There are other government records relating to the War of 1812. Here are some examples:
Also, some key players of the War of 1812 left personal papers and diaries, recollections of battles and correspondence. Here are some examples:
Try relevant keywords in Collection Search to look for other records.
5. Art and portraits
We have many art objects relating to the War of 1812, including portraits, depictions of key events and medals. You can find these items in Collection Search through a keyword search and by limiting your results to “art” in the “types of material” box.
Some collections that are a source of War of 1812 images:
Some digitized images include:
6. Published sources
We hold many books on the history of the War of 1812. Search our Aurora catalogue with relevant keywords. Here is a list of books specifically for genealogy research.
Access the records
Records that are digitized
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.
Records that are not digitized
For records that are not digitized and not restricted, 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.