Canadian Naturalization Files

Gary Perlman - gary@perlman.ca

Location: perlman.ca/gen/canat

Canadian naturalization files are a great source of information for details of:

These files can be requested online, and cost $5 each, unless they are free. The Government of Canada's webpage for Citizenship and Naturalization Records provides access to three databases, but I will only discuss two.

Up to about 100 years ago, people in Montreal naturalized in the Montreal Circuit Court. Records from that period have been scanned in good resolution, in colour, and are available, for free, online. They can be found from Citizenship Registration Records, 1851-1945 - Montreal Circuit Court, but I have not found any records there beyond 1915, despite the name.

If you can't find a naturalization file in the Montreal Circuit Court, you can look in the general Naturalization Records, 1915-1951. These can be searched by name for naturalizations from 1915-1944, and by date from 1945-1951. More years that are searchable by name are added periodically. In late 2015, 1942-1944 were added to the name index; I've never even looked for records by year.

Understanding how the LAC Naturalization search works will make your searches more successful. Understanding its limitations will make you more efficient and effective. There are only a few things to know about the search:

  1. Case Insensitive: Using upper- or lower-case makes no difference. PERLMAN = perlman
  2. Accents Ignored: Perlman = Pérlman
  3. Term Order Matters: Josef Hersch ≠ Hersch Josef
  4. Substring Search: Each field is searched by substring match. There is no * wildcard; it just gets removed. ERLMAN matches PERLMAN, but RLMAN also matches PEARLMAN
  5. Alternative Characters: You can place alternative characters in square brackets. H[EI]RSH matches HERSH and HIRSH
  6. Country Search: At one time, it didn't matter what you put in the Country field on the Canada form. It was completely ignored, but now it works. Be aware that, over time, towns and regions passed between Russian/Polish/Soviet, Austrian/Romanian/Ukrainian, etc. hands, so members of the same family, born in the same town, might have naturalized from different countries.
I always start searching the Montreal Circuit Court records because they are free, in colour, and immediately available, but I have never found any after 1915. I use my own search form because I prefer to have my search form and the results page visible at the same time; the results display in a window that you can put off to the side.

Montreal Circuit Court Records

Search Montreal Circuit Court Records : :

Finding and working with the records at the Montreal Circuit Court is easy. The main thing to keep in mind is that the spelling of names is even less predictable than in the later records. I missed finding my ggfather's file for years because, by his own hand, his name was not Abraham Perlman, but Abram Perelman. Here is a results page for the name PERELMAN and a results page for a combination of substrings LMAN and ABR.

Clinking on the item number 5317, I see a "thumbnail" of the first of four pages, which is actually the full image, displayed to fit in a small area (340x340 px, if you care). If you click on the image, you are no longer viewing the whole image, so to save the images, right-click or Control-click on the small images to save them to your computer. I like to combine them into a PDF using a free web service: Online2PDF.com

There is not a lot of information in these pretty records, but the age of the petitioner will provide an approximate year of birth, and there may be multiple places where the place of origin might appear, possibly making it easier to discern. In the case of my ggfather, I was able to verify his identity by the address on the final page, which was the same as the family's address in the 1911 Census of Canada (under the name PEARLMAN).

Canadian Records

Search Canadian Naturalization Records : :

There are several types of naturalization files, called series, the most common of which are below.
Series Description
A Regular Application
B Application with Minor Children
E Application Based on Previous Naturalization
H Application of Wife, Based on Husband's Naturalization

The sort of information found in applications in different series typically differ, but you never know what you will get until you get the file. I've received a note apologizing that nothing could be found, and files with one page stamped "NO RECORD". Series E, based on a previous naturalization, typically have little information, but some come with reference letters and an RCMP Report. Some files have several parts including an original application, an application by a wife or child for proof of citizenship, or a request for a miniature certificate of naturalization accompanied by a photograph.

So, let's look for a file for my ggfather, Abram Victor. The results screen gets me to Item Number 410465 which has a link to, Page 2293 of the 1940 Canadian Gazette. Looking down the page, I find:

This is a Series-E certificate, based on a previous naturalization, and it's easy to find his 1906 naturalization in the Montreal Circuit Court. I've found that in many cases of Series-E naturalizations, the previous file is not available. You might wonder why, if already naturalized, someone might request another certificate. One reason is that wives or children might need their own names on a certificate.

Submitting Requests

Submitting a request for a document can be done online in a few minutes for $5 (non-refundable), but only with the necessary documentation. You must be able to prove your eligibility (citizenship/resident), and that the named person(s) have been dead for at least 20 years, or that they would be over 110 years old.

  1. Start at the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request.
  2. Click Next at the bottom of the page.
  3. Agree to the terms and click Continue to proceed to the Requester Information.
  4. For Department, select Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (was Citizenship and Immigration Canada).
  5. Select Canadian Citizen, Permanent resident, ...
  6. Title, Surname, Given Name(s), Street Number, Street Name, ..., City, Province/State, Country, Postal Code, Telephone, E-mail Address (use N/A if not applicable)
  7. Request on your own behalf? No
  8. Describe yourself: Member of the Public
  9. Prefer records via: E-mail or CD
  10. Click Continue to proceed to the Act & Record Selection.
  11. Type of information: Access to Information Act
  12. Type of records: Case Files
  13. Surname, Given Name(s), Date of Birth (Jan. 1, if unknown), Alias
  14. File Number(s): Use the number and series (This is a requirement as of 2016-03-16, and while there is an immigration file number, the only way you can find it is by viewing the naturalization file.)
  15. Additional information: I include the information from the Canadian Gazette, plus date of death, and other notes, but most importantly, the number and series of the certificate: Number-series: 27862-E Nat date: 1940-09-10 Name: Abram Victor Occupation: Factory manager City: Montreal Country: Roumania Born: 1878-07-23 Died: 1963-11-12 Notes: already naturalized 1906; applying with wife Jeanette Rudman Victor
  16. Click Continue to proceed to Attach Documents.
  17. Attach Documents for Proof of Death, Consent, Other. Even if you are requesting for a deceased individual who has been deceased for 20 years or would be 110 years old, a consent document is required, so I just use the same documents as I use for proof of death (i.e., I submit them twice). I've used photographs of gravestones/footstones, screen grabs from JOWBR, and obituaries are also accepted. Maximum 2 MB per file. Note that you must include proof of death for all persons named, or part of the file will be withheld, and you'll need to submit a completely new request, for $5 more. I always include a scan of my Canadian Citizenship card, but I assume that a picture of your passport would also establish eligibility.
  18. Click Continue to proceed to Review and Validate.
  19. Review all your information on this page, clicking Modify as needed, and print it because you will not see this information again (i.e., not in email). check the certification box, and
  20. Click Continue to proceed to Payment.
  21. You can modify your request or click Proceed to Secure Checkout to proceed to Payment Details.
  22. Enter your name, credit card number, expiration date, and card code, and Process or Cancel your transaction.
  23. You will be taken to a screen showing the transaction approval, which you can print, because that information also won't be emailed to you.
  24. You will be given the option to go back to make another request, but unfortunately, you will need to re-enter all your own information, for which browser auto-fill settings are very useful.
  25. You will be sent a generic email that your request has been received, and that you should expect a response in 30 days.

Processing Files

After about a month, you will receive a message with a subject line like: Subject: CIC file A-2015-24482 with text message like:

This is further to your request under the Access to Information Act received by Citizenship and Immigration Canada on November 6, 2015 for:

the physical citizenship/naturalization file concerning VICTOR, Abram.
Number series: 27862-E, Nat date: 10091940, POB; Roumania.

The processing of your request is now complete and I am pleased to enclose the documents requested, which are being released in their entirety.

and there will be an attachment like: Attached: A201524482_2015-12-03_15-36-45.pdf (5.7 MB) Sometimes, the message will indicate that parts were withheld for privacy.

I process the files by:

  1. Extracting all the scanned PNG images in the PDF using ExtractPDF.com.
  2. Rescaling them to 25% for ease of handling, then rotate and crop, as needed, and I save a JPEG with quality level 75. Rotating and cropping cuts out a lot of blackness outside the page. There is some loss of detail, but the images are smaller than if I try to save them as PNG. The above file, 5.7 MB, is saved as 3.6 MB: 1940 Abram Victor Naturalization File.
  3. Recombining the edited images into a PDF using Online2PDF.com.
  4. Transcribing much of the text in the file.
  5. Recording, and following up, on information such as: Information can appear in more than one place, from more than one source, which is usually helpful for dealing with poor handwriting, broken typewriters, or poor quality scans, but sometimes it's simply contradictory. Each piece of information can lead to more research: addresses in directories and/or a census, immigration and aliases in passenger lists, spouses in marriage records, children in birth records, etc.