Library and Archives Canada holds multiple records and files for the First World War (1914–1918), mostly for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). It is necessary to consider all of these records together in order to fully understand the Canadian contribution to this war. The Guide to Sources Relating to Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force is a unique finding aid that brings together references to records and files scattered throughout several fonds, which relate to almost every unit in the CEF.
The guide was originally developed over many years by Barbara Wilson, an archivist with the former National Archives of Canada, now Library and Archives Canada. The guide has subsequently been updated with more recent acquisitions from official records, private papers and diaries, and by many other contributors from Library and Archives Canada. The guide was reviewed and updated with references to the Ministry of Militia and Defence records and daily orders, which are described by Library and Archives Canada as Record Group 9 or RG9.
The guide is an indispensable starting point for researching the records that document Canada's participation in the First World War. Researchers can begin their search with the military personnel service files, but this is just the beginning. The guide can point to many other primary sources such as the daily orders, private papers and diaries.
For researchers interested in a specific unit, the guide is particularly helpful since it brings together information about the unit as well as access to the most relevant files that have been identified and listed. Please note that more information on particular units may be also found in records of higher formations (e.g. corps, divisions, or brigades) and general subject files, for example, HQ 683 – 1 – 12 in Record Group 24. Another source to consider is the publication The Canadian Military Experience 1867–1967: A Bibliography by O.A. Cooke (Ottawa, 1979, second edition, 1984).
The guide has a section for each military branch (or corps), such as artillery, infantry, or medical. Each corps is further sub-divided by unit, for example, the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade can be found in the artillery section, along with all the other artillery units.
Each unit contains either background information or archival sources or both. It is important to note that if one or the other is absent, this does not necessarily mean that there are no existing records related to that unit, only that they have not been referenced.