Source: Library & Archives Canada (2.6MB PDF)
Note: this is a significant update to my Nominal Rolls article from January 2014. Below you’ll find links to nearly 400 Nominal Rolls currently online at Library and Archives Canada!
A Nominal Roll is a list of the Officers, NCOs and Men who served in a unit of the CEF at a specific point in time. They were often compiled prior to a unit embarking for England and sometimes include embarkation information such as ship name, embarkation port and the date of sailing. A Nominal Roll usually lists a soldier’s Regimental Number, Rank, Name, Former Corps, Name of Next of Kin, Address of Next of Kin, Country of Birth, and both the place and date they were “Taken On Strength”.
It’s important to note that units experienced continual and sometimes significant changes to personnel. Major battles resulted in huge numbers of casualties but so did “wastage“, a term used to describe the daily toll of soldiers wounded or killed by sniping and shelling. The never-ending need for reinforcements meant that Nominal Rolls had a very short shelf life.
Nominal Rolls can provide other interesting bits of information, such as who attested on the same day as your soldier. You may also find other relatives or even neighbours that joined the same battalion. Page 11 of the 148th Battalion Nominal Roll shows that brothers Matt and James Liddell lined up one behind the other at the recruiting office in Montreal.
A Nominal Roll may provide clues as to which company your soldier served in, although this too was highly subject to change. The First Canadian Contingent originally divided its battalions into eight lettered companies but were reorganized into four numbered companies on arrival in England. However if you can determine the company your soldier served in it will make reading war diaries all the more interesting.
The tables below include links to Nominal Rolls at Library and Archives Canada. Please be aware these are PDF documents ranging in size from a few MBs to over 20MBs. Note: entries marked with an ‘*‘ are not currently online at LAC and so I’ve used a link to the Bob Richardson Nominal Roll collection page hosted by the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. You’ll need to navigate through the various folders to find the relevant nominal roll.
It took quite some time to build these tables so if you encounter incorrect links please leave a comment or contact me.
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this is a fantastic resource…thank you very much for setting it up! >
You’re very welcome. Kudos to Library & Archives Canada for digitizing the Nominal Rolls and to Bob Nicholson and the CEF Matrix for sharing their large collection. Hopefully my links make accessing them a bit easier. I do appreciate your feedback … it took quite a few hours to put together so it’s good to know it will be put to use!
Thanks for such a great resource! I am putting together a centennial honor roll for my community, and this has helped immensely.
One of our men, however, seems to be eluding my searches. According to our historical honor roll, one W. Dunn served with the RMH. I can’t find any reference to what the RMH might be, and there are too many W Dunns to search through without more clues. Do you have any idea what RMH might be?
I’m glad the article was helpful and appreciate your feedback.
In regards to RMH my first thought is that they served at a Military Hospital, possibly Rideau or Rimouski, as a member of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Does either location make sense to you? I’m not sure where your community is. Also, what rank was W. Dunn?
PS. the other possibility is that there was a mistake and that it should have read RMR which stands for Royal Montreal Regiment (or Rocky Mountain Rangers).
Thank you! Those are all excellent possibilities, I’m going to have a lot of googling to do this afternoon.
Dunn was a private, and he’s listed on the Port Moody honor roll as having been killed in action. However, in another, later Port Moody honor roll, he’s listed as having died of wounds. We also know he didn’t own property in the area, so he may have been a labourer, renter, or other mobile individual who just passed through here on his way to Westminster to sign up. As of now, he is the only local casualty we know nothing about.
Looks like there were no Dunns in the medical core, and the only W Dunns I could find in the RMRs either survived or lived in Ontario. Back to the drawing board.
I had a look yesterday too but couldn’t find a good match. If W. Dunn died of wounds prior to August 31, 1921 then he should be listed in their database. I looked for W. Dunns who died in the service of any Commonwealth Force but I couldn’t see a link to Port Moody or a unit using the abbreviation “RMH”. It’s a difficult one if you don’t have anything else to tie him to the area. Do you know for sure that he enlisted in New Westminster?
Unfortunately not. We know he died before the second half of 1917, because the first honor roll was written earlier than that. The only two concrete records we have of W. Dunn are the official honor roll for the city of Port Moody, created in 1917 and only ever partially completed, and the Honor roll in The Gold Stripe, a post-war magazine honoring those wounded and killed in the war.
According to the Official roll, he was a Private in the “RHM”, killed in action. His name is listed alphabetically, so we know it was added at the time. According to the Gold Stripe, he died of wounds. It’s worth noting that others were listed as having died of wounds on the official roll, so there is definitely a discrepancy. That is all the concrete documentation I have of W. Dunn
I had a look through a few more service files and casualty lists but nothing with a Port Moody connection. I did find a W.J. Dunn from Fernie but he survived the war (but was wounded). If I find anything I will let you know. Good luck with your search! Cheers, Steve.
We found William Frederick Dunn and pinned him to the area, but we still haven’t found any record of his serving overseas, aside from the honor roll. It’s still a puzzle how he managed to slip through undocumented, or what the RMH he served with might have been.
Thank you! I’ll let you know if I find him.
Love this site, found my dad and his brother. Are there any photos of the Battalions? I don’t have any pictures of my dad (Battalion 183 CEF Manitba Beavers) or his brother Battalion 68 Princess Patricia Light Infantry) would love to acknowledge them on Remembrance Day 2017 my uncle died at Vimy Ridge.
Thanks for your comments and feedback, it’s much appreciated. There’s no one source for Canadian FIrst World War military photographs although there are a few places to check. If a unit is perpetuated by a Regiment today then it’s worth checking for a Regimental museum. For example, the 68th Battalion is perpetuated by The Royal Regina Rifles and there is a museum in the Regina Armoury.
The 183rd was broken up after arriving in England and the men transferred to other battalions. Your Dad’s service file will indicate which unit he went to. Most regimental photos were taken in camps in Canada or England prior to heading to the front but it’s possible a photo exists of a unit at the end of the war. Again it would be a case of searching for a regimental museum or association that may include copies of those photos. And of course a google search is always worth a shot.
One of the best sources are newspaper archives. If you can find an online archive for the local paper then you have a good chance of finding a photograph although the quality varies greatly. The Winnipeg Free Press has a great archive although you have to pay to view articles (via newspapers.com if I remember correctly).
Perhaps another reader will have another suggestion and post it here.
My grandfather George William Atherton (125815) joined the 9th Siege Batter the 9th of August 1916.
His name is listed above as such for the 2nd Reinforcing Draft. I have his pay book, medals and a couple of photos. His pay book says 9th Siege Battery, however above it is written posted to the 8th.
Does not give a date when, has pay entries for March is a place in the UK, Stowlangtoft. Field pay is started in April. I am trying to find out when he went to the 8th. According to the war diaries the 9th Siege Battery’s first action was the 9th of April 1917, the opening day of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
Hi Bob, it looks like he was taken on strength with the 8th on April 19, 1917 and joined the unit in France on April 21, 1917. Cheers, Steve.
Info on GW Atherton
Thanks Steve that was fast. I have read the war diaries of both the 8th and 9th Siege Battery’s in an attempt to find more info. They never mention enlisted men’s names unless they were killed or decorated. It takes some practice to read, the longer they are at the front, the worse the writing gets.
My grandfather passed away in 1969, he never talked much about it. My aunt, his daughter ask me 10 or so years ago if I wanted his pay book and hero pictures, I said yes. I already had his medals, overseas pin and such. Until that time I knew little of his service. I found out that he joined in 1916, went to France in 1917. I had thought that he joined in 1918. He did mention a couple humorous events, but only in passing. I did know that he did not like rats.
You’re welcome Bob. The information was in his service file which you can access on the Library & Archives Canada website. A desire not to discuss the war was a very common trait among First World War veterans as was the aversion to rats, and understandably so. Cheers, Steve.
All I can say is Wow! I started this week on a project to digitize my birth county – Victoria County, Nova Scotia through Canadian Great War Project http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.com (another great site). I am NOT a historian, archivist, militarist, etc. but do feel a need to honour these men and women for their sacrifices. This site represents a significant level of work and I applaud you for it! Are you aware of any “digital” copies of these rolls? Meaning copies that have been OCR’d or converted to digital data? As a former 2BnNova Scotia Highlander my connections are through the 85th Bn and 185th Bn which also is significant in Victoria County, NS. Are you aware of a Nominal Roll for the 94th Victoria Regiment”Argyll Highlanders”? It was placed on active service on August 6, 1914, for protective duties of the Cape Breton coast and remained so for the duration of the war.
Thanks very much, your feedback is appreciated, and thank you for starting work on the digitization project for Victoria County.
I’m not aware of any large-scale transcription of nominal rolls although the Canadian Great War Project has a dozen or so, including the 85th Battalion, which I’m sure you know about considering your current project.
I don’t expect there would be a CEF nominal roll for the 94th Victoria Regiment as they remained in Canada and these rolls were compiled in preparation for a unit to sail overseas. However Ancestry.ca has a couple of datasets including “Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1857-1922” which includes paylists for the 94th up to 1913 (but not 1914, at least not yet). Ancestry is offering free access to some of its Commonwealth records over the Easter weekend so now is the time to check it out!
Thanks Steve! Great Information! I will check out Ancestry.ca .
I downloaded the 185th Nominal roll – scan of original and have been playing with OCR settings but a ton of work to get it right – I haven’t given up. I have been on the Canadian Great War Project Site and have been in touch with Dan on their site for further information.
Thanks again for the great resource(s).
When I Came Across this Site I Really Was Totally Shocked and Delighted at the Same Time.
This Site Actually Is Beyond Words, I Cannot Say Enough, Thank You for Bring Our WW1 Soldier out of the Dark and into Our Memories Especially Considering What 2017 Means to Us.
Thanks very much for your feedback, it’s much appreciated. I love to research these individuals and I know many others do too. This particular page is easily the most popular on my website.
Hi Steve, I am really impressed by the amount of work this website represents. Obviously you can focus MUCH better than I can. Additionally the CEF Study Group has an incredible amount of material to plough through. And the Canadian Great War Project. It is amazing the way this information makes them “live” again. I’m looking for the CEF Nominal Roll for my grandfather who served in the 227th* battalion. The link from the asterisk takes me to the CEFResearchForum but it says that page doesn’t exist. When I try to find out more it says I am not permitted to use the search function. I have not yet “browsed the site” or registered. I have found my grandfather’s records online. I was hoping to find the Nominal Roll. I will keep digging a bit at a time. I just want to thank you for this colossal work. I don’t have a specific question to ask just yet.
Thanks very much for your comments and for pointing out the dead link. The CEF Study Group has changed to a Wiki format and so all their old links are no longer working. I’ve updated all the links on my nominal rolls page so you should now land on the correct page. Once you’re there you’ll need to click through on their link and then into the “Numbered Battalions” folder. I hope you will now find your grandfather on the Nominal Roll!
In the 37th Battalion, pages 13, 15, 16 and 31 are not displaying an image!
I just had a look and I can see these pages. They are big clunky files so you might want to try viewing them in a different web browser or saving the file to your computer and viewing it offline.
Ah, yes.. Thank you lol. I quickly forget how bad Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer are.
Quick question though, I work with the City of Barrie and we’re currently working with the Legion to compile a list of men from Simcoe County who served out of 4 Battalions (37th, 76th, 157th and 177th). Right now I’ve been manually browsing the lists and it has been extremely time consuming. I wasn’t sure if you had these files in a different format or potentially an idea for querying the PDF’s to compile a list of just those persons from Simcoe County?
I’ve been trying to come up with ideas myself but have yet to come up with a clear cut solution. Any help is appreciated and thank you for your speedy reply earlier!
Looking for information on Captain Ben Hugh May. He went overseas on the SS Olympic on June 29, 1916 with the 13th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles. It then says the unit was broken up and the men sent to various units in July 1916. I am trying to find out where he ended up. Any help is much appreciated. Great website!!
Hi Brent … thanks for the comment. I’ll see what I can find and drop you an email. Cheers, Steve.
I am looking for information on GEORGE CAPEL who was with the 48th at the begining of ww2 any help would be a great help
Hi Bill … My suggestion would be to check out the two articles I wrote on requesting WW2 service files. You’ll find part 1 here:
and part 2 here:
I also offer a research service and would be happy to help you out (you’ll find a link at the top of the column on the right of this page). If you have any questions just let me know.
Wow, so much work has gone into this….thanks so much! I am trying to find info on my grandfather’s records. Wondering what is the difference between an enlistment number and a service number for starters? I have a lot of his records but they have some conflicting info and am wondering why/ Maybe just their recording methods back then? He was member of the CEF, 246th Battallion in the first world war. My mom always said he served in both wars but am doubting that happened. Is there any way to find out? Thanks
Hi Theresa, thanks for your feedback, it’s much appreciated. I’m going to reply to your questions by email and so you should receive it shortly. Thanks again, Steve.
Thank you for a great resource. I am uk based and researching a great uncle in the CEF. Using LAC records and your records an incredible story of the men that served with him in his unit.is now being revealed and accurately documented.
You’re welcome Mr C and I very much appreciate the feedback. I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to make use of the references and thank you for remembering those who served! Cheers, Steve.
Would there be any enlistment photos of the soldiers anywhere???
I would love to see what my great uncles looked like
Hi Matthew … official photos weren’t taken when a soldier enlisted however the battalions they served in prior to leaving Canada sometimes took photographs of their unit, sometimes by company or platoon or more commonly a panoramic photo of the entire battalion. Most soldiers paid a photographer to take their photo in uniform and these were taken in studios in Canada, the UK and sometimes on the continent. These were often printed onto postcards which were forwarded on to family or friends. Cheers, Steve.
I am looking for nominal rolls for Forestry Draft No. 5. Most of the men from my First Nation community (The Pas Indian Band) were recruited as lumbermen etc.
Hi … Library and Archives Canada records imply that a sailing list (nominal roll) does exist however it has not been digitized nor can I find any reference to a digitized microfilm reel. You’ll find information on it here:
It may be possible to order a copy (there are instructions on the page linked to above) or book an appointment to visit in person if you are or will be in the Ottawa area.
That is very helpful. I will look into ordering copies through their website. Thanks!
You’re welcome, good luck!
This is an absolutely amazing resource and thank you VERY much for pulling this together. I’ve found a number of ancestors in these documents and its been extremely helpful. I’m also wondering if you can help track down an Albert Lawrence Running to one of these rolls. I’ve spent a couple of hours and he is the only chap I’ve not been able to find here. He enlisted November 2, 1915 and his service record specifies he enlists with the 98th Battalion, transferred to the “No.4 Depot Regiment CMR”, to the Fort Garry Horse, to the 11th and finally the 8th Battalion (late killed at Hill 70 August 15, 1917).
cheers & thanks!
Thanks very much for your feedback, I’m glad to hear you’ve found the website to be helpful. I did look up Albert Lawrence Runnings and it appears he was part of the 4th Overseas Draft sent by the CMR Depot aboard SS Olympic. This draft sailed from Halifax on July 24, 1916 and arrived in Liverpool on July 31st. Unfortunately I’m not aware of a nominal roll for the 4th Overseas Draft, nor any CMR Depot Draft. There would have been one of course but there don’t appear to be any surviving copies at LAC or in the Bob Nicholson Collection. That’s not to say that something won’t turn up in the future, or that someone else may know of source. If they do hopefully they will post something here.
Howdy Steve ~
Thanks for sharing that sir, and you just saved me digging further for Albert’s brother Thomas as he was also part of the 4th Overseas & CMR Depot Draft. You’ve been very generous with your time and I thank you!
What a resource. Thanks for sharing this with us.
I started (re)searching Belgian men in the CEF. some time ago. This source of information is a great help to me. Thanks !
regards from Flanders, Belgium
Hi Bart, thanks very much for the positive feedback and good luck with your research! Cheers, Steve.
I FOUND MY GRANDFATHER LISTED HERE.I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE INFORMATION. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR WORK. DAN
Hi Dan … you’re very welcome. I’m glad to hear you were able to find your grandfather in the Nominal Rolls. All the best, Steve.