Tips on ordering a CEF service file

Library & Archives Canada have digitized the First World War Attestation papers for the majority of Canadian soldiers. You can search the database and view these pages free of charge.

If you wish to view the complete service file you will need to order it from Library & Archives Canada. The ordering procedure is antiquated but it does work, and hopefully it will be updated in the near future. In the meantime follow these steps:

Step 1: Make a note of the information displayed on the “Item Display” for the soldier you’re researching. For example:


Step 2: Click on the “How to consult a file on-site or order a copy of the complete file” link in the upper right corner of “Item Display” screen.

Step 3: Click the “Order Form for Photocopies and Reproductions” link in the How to Order section.

Step 4: Check the mandatory “Acceptance” and “Declaration of Use” boxes and click the Continue button.

Step 5: From the shopping cart screen click the “Digital Copy” or “Photocopy” link:


Important: Beginning in May 2010 Library & Archives Canada began to offer researchers the option of ordering a CD containing scanned images rather than photocopies. I encourage you to go digital as there are many advantages of doing so:

1. The scans are in colour and are much superior to photocopies.
2. Digital copies are easier to share and can be printed out when necessary.
3. Shipping costs are reduced (~$2.00 within Canada).
4. The costs to scan are the same as photocopying (40 cents per page).
5. Most importantly, once a service file is digitized it will be made available to others via the website, and hopefully at no additional cost.

Here’s an example of one of the digitized pages from the service file for Gerald Gordon Bell:


Step 6: Complete all the fields on the “Digital Copy” or “Photocopy” order form. I use the “Title/Description” field to indicate I’m ordering the complete service file for the soldier and include his name, rank and regimental #. Use the information from the “Item Display” screen to fill in the “Reference Number” field. If you’re ordering a digitized copy be sure to select “Colour” from the Colour drop-down.

Step 7: Click the Add to shopping cart button and then complete the ordering process by providing payment details, etc.

Library & Archives Canada will charge your credit card once the work has been completed and your CD or photocopies are ready for mailing. I never receive a confirmation email but once I see the charge appear on my credit card I know I’ll usually receive the package within a week. I find the entire process takes, on average, four weeks.

Categories: Researching

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