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AfriGeneas Canada Research Forum

Canadians in the South African War 1899 - 1902

The South African War, 1899-1902, is a key event in the military history of Canada. It marked the first occasion for which Canada dispatched troops to an overseas war. A total of 7,368 Canadians served in South Africa.
** Despite my best efforts, I haven't been able to confirm whether any black Canadian troops were sent to South Africa (I kinda think not, but you never know), so this database might not be that useful to our AfriGeneas family. **

This research tool brings together three groups of records pertaining to the South African War: the service files, medal registers and land grant applications.

A total of 7,368 Canadians served during the South African War. Library and Archives Canada holds 5,935 service files for those individuals. Unfortunately, the remaining files no longer exist. The surviving files are part of the Department of Veterans Affairs fonds (RG 38, volumes 1 to 116, microfilm reel numbers T-2060 to T-2090).

These files have been digitized and are available online in this research tool. Service files generally contain:

* attestation paper, with a physical description of the recruit;

* service history;

* medical report;

* discharge certificate; and

* notation on medals awarded.

Some files also contain correspondence relating to pensions, land grants and medals.

Under the Volunteer Bounty Act of 1908, veterans of the South African War were entitled to 320 acres of Dominion Land. Library and Archives Canada holds the land grant applications (RG 38, volumes 117 to 136, numbers 1 to 7370). These applications are two-page forms that include the name of the applicant, place of residence and service summary. References to those applications are included in this research tool, but the actual documents have not been digitized and are not available on microfilm; however, you can request photocopies.

Most veterans opted to receive scrip in the amount of $60 rather than a land grant, or sold their land grant entitlement to a "substitute". For further information, you might wish to conduct a search in the relevant Dominion Lands Branch series (RG 15 DII9h, Aperture card books 53 to 57), which are only available on-site at Library and Archives Canada.

As with all the LAC (Library and Archives of Canada) online databases, you can use wildcard characters, so if your surname has multiple spellings, you might want to use a "$" or "?" in your searches.

Good luck in your search.

- Lisa B. Lee, PLCGS
Oakland, CA


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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