Where To Start With The Paperwork?

Birth Records

Marriage records

Death Records

Obtaining Canadian Vital Records

Searching Passenger Lists

LI-RA-MA Collection

Naturalization Records

Census Records

National Registration 1940

Homestead Records

Searching for Lost Relatives

Research Questions



Tracing your ancestors need not be a daunting task. It is made much easier if you develop a research plan that begins with you and works back to the first ancestor who came to North America. There are many records on this side of the pond that can bring surprising results. When I started my search, all I had to go on was the name of the village my father was born in. On my mother’s side I had a family tree, prepared by my cousin, which pointed to my maternal great-grandfather and great-grandmother. I have managed to go back four generations on my father’s side and seven generations on my mother’s side.

Start With Yourself

Write down what you already know about your family and yourself. Use a Pedigree Chart, also called an Ancestral Chart, to write the information you already know about yourself and your family. If you do not know exact dates and places, estimate them. You know the date your were born, do you know the day of the week it fell on? Here's a calculator which will reveal that information.


When were you born?

Review what is missing

Circle or highlight any missing or incomplete information on the Pedigree Chart. For example, you are not sure of where your parents got married. This directs you to finding their marriage certificate. You will probably find lots of incomplete information asa you fill out the Pedigree Chart such as, "Do you know who your Great-Grandparents were?" There were eight of them. Decide on what information is easiest to get, get it and work from there.

What Information do you Already Have?

Gather all your records. Start with the records you already have in your possession and gather them into one place. If you do not have any records, ask your relatives if they have any and if they can share them with you. Organize them and see what family history information already exists.

Talk to your Family

Explain to your family and family friends that you are compiling a family history and you need their help. Record any useful information and stories they may have. Ask them if they have any birth, marriage, and death certificates, letters, pictures or other records that may apply.


Step One: Locate their birthplace. It is crucial that you know the exact place of their birth. Ask a relative for the name of the village/town plus the name of a nearby larger town the birth village/town. There may be a number of similar named villages, so you have to situate the correct town by knowing what other town it is near. If you don’t have a relative who can direct you, then there are a number of documents, which can reveal the name of the village/town. Your ancestor probably filled out Naturalization papers at some point.

In Canada, they also may have filled out a National Registration 1940 form. This was compulsory registration in Canada during World War Two. Everyone over the age of 16 was to fill in a detailed questionnaire that asked for their name, address, age, date of birth, conjugal status, dependents, country of birth (persons registered and parents only), nationality, racial origin, languages, education, general health, class of occupation, occupation or craft, employment status, work experience by type, mechanical or other abilities, latent skills, wartime circumstances, previous military service.

Step Two: Search the Family History Library for any microfilms on the village. Go to
This is the search page of the Family History Center Catalog. Click on the “Place Search” button. On the page it brings up, in the Place window input the village/town name. Next press the Search button. It will bring up a Search Results page with one or more underlined URLs. Click on the first URL. It will bring up a Place Details page. Click on the URL in the Topics section. It will bring up a Topic Details page. Click on the URL in the Titles section. It will bring up a Titles Detail page. Scroll to the bottom of this page and you will find a line, which reads “For a printable version of this record click here then click your browser's Print button.” Click the here URL and print out the resulting page. It will list the films that are available and the type of record (birth, marriage, death) and the years covered. Note that the terms for birth, marriage and death might be written in Polish. Akta urodzen/birth, malzenstw/marriage, zgonów/death.

Step Three: Go to your nearest Family History Center and order the films. The film rentals are around $5.00 each and you get them for a 30-day period to review at the Family History Center. They will call you when the film is in, usually in 2-3 weeks. You then book time on their microfilm reader. They will place the film in a filing cabinet for you after each viewing (the film remains on their premises). You can renew the films for additional 30-day periods.

Step Four: Start with the nearest time frame and work backwards in time. If a film lists birth from say 1865 to 1902, start from 1902 and scroll back to 1865. Note down the details for each family name you encounter and in particular, the house number. This will tell you where each family resided. There may be a number of families with the same name in the village. They were probably related in some way.

Step Five: Join a genealogy group such as the Toronto Ukrainian Genealogy Group (TUGG) for additional help. Look for a Ukrainian or Polish genealogy group in your locale. If there are none, then join a general group such as the Ontario Genealogical Society, which has Branches throughout Ontario or a similar provincial or state genealogical society.



Fill in a pedigree chart, starting with yourself. You should gather all your Vital Records (birth, marriage, civil and church records). Then write down everything you know about your family and put it on Pedigree and Family Group charts. Fill in your parents and their parents, if known. Write down everything you "know" about them. When did they immigrate? Were they born in Canada? Where were they born? When did they die? When were they married? These are your starting points.

Look for any documents they signed themselves. Are there Homestead, land, school district records, marriage registrations for themselves and birth registrations for their children.

Did they change their name? Beware of name changes. When I searched the passenger records for my father, using the current spelling for his surname, i.e. Onyschuk. I came up empty. My sister later mentioned to me that my father had a Polish spelling on his passport i.e. Onyszczuk. I tried this different spelling in the passenger records search window and up popped the record source. I now knew the date my father arrived, the boat he was on, how long the trip took, how much money he had on him and who he was going to meet in Canada.

It was common to informally make changes by the ancestor themselves because their Ukrainian names were hard to spell and pronounce. During World War 1 and II many people changed their names because of ethnic discrimination. Name changes often were direct translations of the name into English or changing the spelling to how it was pronounced.

Sometimes, others made name changes. Examples of this were the purser on the ship, the census taker, land agents, teachers or clergy. The immigrant often adopted these spellings of their name thinking this was how their name was spelt "in English". My maternal great-grandfather, Andrew Boyachuk had documents with the following spellings: Andrij Bojaszek, Bojaczok, Bojachek, Andri Bojaczuk. I feel certain that there are probably some other variations floating around. My father once spelt his name as Onyshchuk on a document.

Any formal name changes were registered with the provincial government. These legal name changes were then published in the provincial gazette and the local newspaper. The Gazette is the official journal published by each provincial government to make or place statements that are legally required by law. Copies are found in provincial archives or legislative libraries. Documentation about the name change is available from Vital Statistics in the province where the legal name change took place.

It is important to keep a list of all the spelling variations you encounter. This may open up valuable document sources.


Knowing this date will help you determine what was taking place in Ukraine. Was it then under Polish rule or Austrian rule or Russian rule or Soviet rule? This date will also help you determine what the political/religious boundaries were when they left for North America.


You need a geographical location for where the family lived and where they left from in the Old Country.

Note: where the family said they were living when they told you the family story. Sometimes this was the political name at the time rather than the name of the country when they left. Check to see if there are documents that they brought with them to trace this migration.
What did they do when they came to Canada?

Did your ancestors carry on with the same occupation they had in the Ukraine or were they now farmers, tradesmen, or labourers?

What language did they speak in the Old Country? Did they learn to speak English in Canada? Were they able to read and write? What language(s)?

What religion did they practice in the Old Country and here in Canada?
Why did they come to Canada?


Were some of your ancestors born and married in Canada? If so, then there will be birth and marriage records available. As well there will be death records for those who died here. These records will fall under the Privacy Act, which means that they may not be available to you unless a certain period of time has elapsed. For example to access death records, you would have to supply proof that your ancestor has been dead for at least 20 years.

The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths did not become the general practice in Canada until it was undertaken as a provincial responsibility late in the nineteenth century. Before that time, the only likely source for such information is local church records, provided the denomination and parish are known.

The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths is a provincial and territorial responsibility. Inquiries concerning access and fees should be addressed to the appropriate office.


Birth Records

Birth records can provide the following information: name, date and place of the birth, tells which child this is, how many children the mother has had and how many are still living, gives the names of the parents, including the mother's maiden name, the parent's ages when the child was born, their racial origin, occupation and the date and place of parent's marriage.

It is important to note down: Who gave the information, who wrote it down, who signed the document and how they signed their name.

Some Alternates to birth records include: Baptismal records, birth announcements in the newspaper or the family bible.

The next section Obtaining Canadian and American Vital Records explains how to obtain Canadian and American Birth Records.


Marriage records

Marriage records can provide the following information: names of the bride and groom, their ages, their places of birth, the place of birth of their fathers, the maiden name of their mothers, whether they were a spinster/bachelor or widow/widower, or divorced, the occupation of the groom, the names of their parents, whether married by license or banns, the date and place of the marriage, the religious denomination of the bride and groom and the officiating clergy plus the names and addresses of the witnesses.

You should note down: Who gave the information, who wrote it down, who signed the document and how they signed their name.

Alternate marriage sources can be the family bible, a newspaper write-up, subsequent anniversary write-ups especially the silver or golden weddingcelebrations.

The next section Obtaining Canadian and American Vital Records explains how to obtain Canadian and American Marriage Records.


Death Records

Death records can provide the following information: name, date and place of death, sex, age, whether single or married, the name of the husband or wife using the wife's maiden name, place of birth, religion, name of the physician and the name and signature of the informant, it may provide racial origin, widowed or divorced, date of birth and age in years, months and days, name and birth place of the father, maiden name and place of birth of the mother, name and signature of the informant, address and relationship to the deceased, place of burial, cremation or removal, date of burial, undertaker's signature or person acting as such along with their address.In some years they asked for the length of residence in Canada, in the province where they lived and the place where they died.

You should note down: The name of the informant because he or she may have known more details about the deceased.

Alternates death record sources can be church records, prayer card given at thefuneral, obituary/ newspaper announcement, cemetery, funeral home or monument company records. You can also also check if there is a cemetary index.

The next section Obtaining Canadian and American Vital Records explains how to obtain Canadian and American Death Records.


Obtaining Canadian and American Vital Records

Vital records are the best places to look for dates of events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. In addition, they often give information such as parents' or children's names, occupation, place of residence, and age. Civil registration of these important lifetime events didn't begin until the late 1800's, so if you are looking for records before that time, you will most likely find them in thechurch to which your ancestors belonged.

For addresses and holdings, select one of the topics listed below:


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories, Birth Records, Marriage Records, Death Records

Nova Scotia


Prince Edward Island



Yukon Territory

American Birth, Marriage & Death Records



A starting point for many of us was searching for the boats that carried our ancestors to Canada. What follows is a description of the process to follow when doing a search.

The first wave of Ukrainians immigrants started arriving between 1895 until WW1. The next wave came following the War until the mid-1930’s. The third wave came following WW2. This description is excerpted from the Archives of Canada website.

1865 to 1922

These lists are arranged by port and date of arrival. In order for you to undertake a meaningful search in the unindexed lists, it is necessary to know the exact month, year and port of arrival. The name of the ship and the last port of sailing are also helpful.

An old nominal card index, of questionable accuracy, exists for arrivals at Québec from 1865 to 1869. The microfilm copy of the index is available for loan. Each index card provides name, sometimes age, name of ship, date of arrival at Québec and the reel number on which that list appears. When consulting the index, beware of spelling variations and misfilingsA similiar index exists for arrivals at Halifax from January 1881 to February 1882 on microfilm reel C-15712.

The following URL will explain how to obtain these records.

1919 to 1922

For arrivals from 1919 to 1922, it is suggested that you first search for a possible record in the Form 30A series.

Passenger lists 1925 to 1935

These records contain more information than the earlier passenger lists, including the immigrant’s place of birth, the name and address of the relative, friend or employer to whom they were destined and the name and address of the nearest relative in the country from whence they came.

The lists are arranged by port and date of arrival. A series of old nominal indexes exists for this period. In cooperation with the Pier 21 Society, the entries in those indexes have been input into a database. Note that these indexes do not include the names of returning Canadians, tourists, visitors and passengers in transit to the United States. To locate those names, you will have to search the actual passenger lists for the relevant port and period

You can search the records yourself by one of the following means:

• You can search this data base by going to:

• You can visit the National Archives and use their self-serve microfilm.

The headquarters building of the National Archives of Canada is located at 395 Wellington Street, in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, a few blocks west of the Parliament Buildings and next to the Supreme Court of Canada. Limited visitor parking is available on the west side of the building (2 hour maximum). Street and pay parking is available in the vicinity.

On-site services include reference assistance for researchers wishing to conduct research using the finding aids and research tools which describe the holdings of the National Archives and consultation services for the various media holdings of the institution. An overview of the types of records held at the National Archives of Canada can be found in the pamphlet Who We Are

• You may borrow microfilm from the National Archives through the inter-institutional loan arrangement.

• You may borrow microfilm copies of our 1865 to 1908 passenger lists through your local LDS Family History Center™.

• A number of libraries and archives in Canada hold microfilm copies of some or all of their passenger lists from 1865 to early 1919. In Toronto there is:

--Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
--North York Central Branch of the Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ontario (most records up to 1935)

Post-1935 Immigration Records

Records of immigrants arriving at Canadian land and sea ports from 1 January 1936 onwards remain in the custody of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Requests for copies of landing records should be mailed to the undernoted office:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Public Rights Administration
360 Laurier Ave West
10th Floor

Please note that the following conditions apply:

Applications for copies of documents must be submitted on an “Access to Information Request Form” by a Canadian citizen or an individual present in Canada.
Fee: $5.00, payable to the Receiver General for Canada

The request must be accompanied by a signed consent from the person concerned or proof that he/she has been deceased twenty years. Proof of death can be a copy of a death record, a newspaper obituary or a photograph of the gravestone showing name and death date.

The request should include the following information: full name at time of entry into Canada, date of birth, year of entry. Additional information is helpful, such as country of birth, port of entry, and names of accompanying family members.

For access to your own landing record, please visit or write to your nearest Canada Immigration Centre or Canadian Consular Office. Fee: $30.00 for a certified copy for legal purposes. If you do not require a certified copy, you can submit your request on a Personal Information Request Form at no charge.

Copies of Access to Information Request Forms and Personal Information Request Forms can be obtained from most Canadian public libraries and federal government offices.


LI-RA-MA Collection

The Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers (LI-RA-MA) collection (MG 30 E406) consists of documents created by the Imperial Russian Consular offices in Canada during the period from 1898 to 1922. The Passport/Identity Papers series consists of about 11,400 files on Russian immigrants from the Imperial Russian Empire who settled in Canada, including Jews, Ukrainians and Finns.


Naturalization Records

Before 1917 and from 1977 - 1985, one had to be in Canada for three years before one could be naturalized. From 1917 - 1977 and from 1985 to the present, on had to have been in Canada for five years.

Prior to 1917
T he original records between 1854 and 1917 have been destroyed but a nominal card index survives. The information on the cards provides the present and former place of residence, former nationality, occupation, date and place of naturalization.

From 1917 to the present
T hese records give the name, address, date and place of birth, former citizenship, whether married, single, widower/widow, name of wife is sometimes given, citizenship of parents, physical description, names, birth dates and places of birth of minor children and the date and place of naturalization

In 1932
From 16 January, married women had to make a separate application for naturalization. Prior to this period there were no separate naturalization records for a female spouse,

Information Found in a Naturalization File

In addition to the application form for naturalization, there is a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Report, an Affidavit Proving Petition and an Oath of Allegiance. Other documents could show why they wanted to be naturalized, information about their husband or wife and children and who vouched for their character and reputation.


An index of those who were naturalized, along with their addresses and countries of origin, was published in the Canada Gazette. Although naturalization indexes ended in 1947, the lists continued to be published until 1951. From 1917 to April 1921, the lists are in numeric order. After this time, they are listed in alphabetical order.

Copies are found in the National Library of Canada or on microfilm or fiche in the legislative or university libraries in each province. You can do some on-line searches at the following URL:

How to Obtain Copies of Naturalization Records

Copies are available if submitted on an Access to Information Request Form by a Canadian citizen or a resident of Canada. There is a $5 fee payable to the Receiver General. Send to: Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Public Rights Administration, 300 Salter Street, 3rd Floor, Section D, Ottawa, Ontario K1A lL1. The request must be accompanied by a signed consent from the person concerned or proof that he/she has been deceased twenty years. The request should include the following information: full name, date and place of birth and, if possible, the number of the Canadian Citizenship or naturalization certificate. The Access to Information Form is available at some public libraries or Federal Government Offices. Copies of the form and information about the Access to Information Act are available on the Internet at the National Archives of Canada.

Alternate Sources for naturalization papers are: copies of the Naturalization Certificate may be found in your family papers or may be found in the Homestead Papers. From 1918 - 1938 the lists of those who were granted or refused citizenship were printed in the Canada Gazette, the official paper of the Canadian parliament. Copies are found in the National Library of Canada or on microfilm or fiche in the legislative or university libraries in each province.


Census Records

Census Records For Western Canada 1881 - 1901

Census records provide one with the list of people who were living together on census day. Nominal census data was been taken in the years that end in 1. The 1901 census is the last one released in Canada. An agricultural census was taken at the same time but only the one for 1901 survives. The 1901 census is particularly useful because it asks for date and place of birth, age, relationship to head of household, religion, racial origin, occupation, year of immigration and year of naturalization.

The 1891 census asks for birth place of the individual and the birth place of their father and mother.

Note: Names are spelt the way the census taker wrote them. Ages may not be correct but families tend to be listed in chronological order. Pay attention to where each person was born. This could show you a migration pattern. Note the religion but remember they may be listing the only available church in the community.

There was a census taken in Manitoba for 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1838, 1840, 1843, 1846, 1849 and 1870. The 1870 census is particularly valuable because it lists the names of the father for each individual.
Indexes: have been prepared for 1870, 1881, 1891 and are being prepared for sections of the 1901 census.

Available: Through interlibrary loan from the National Archives of Canada. Also available at many archives, major libraries, and genealogical society libraries. The 1881 and 1891 Census are available through the Family History Library or the American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL).

Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906

In order to track the high rates of population growth in western Canada, the Canadian government called for a special census of the prairie provinces (Manitoba, and the two newly created provinces of Saskatchewan, and Alberta). This endeavour continued every 10 years from 1906 to 1956, at which time the Census of the Northwest Provinces became part of the Canada-wide census. Through this research tool you can access digitized images of original census returns, which recorded the names of family members, their sex, marital status, year of immigration to Canada, post office address, etc.

To Search The Data Base


National Registration 1940

There was compulsory registration in Canada during World War Two. Everyone over the age of 16 was to fill in a detailed questionnaire that asked for their name, address, age, date of birth, conjugal status, dependents, country of birth (persons registered and parents only), nationality, racial origin, languages, education, general health, class of occupation, occupation or craft, employment status, work experience by type, mechanical or other abilities, latent skills, wartime circumstances, previous military service. The form was sent to Ottawa and each individual was issued with an identification card which they were required to present whenever they were stopped by a member of the constabulary. Not all questions were always answered. These forms still survive.

A search can be undertaken for an individual after the following information or documentation has been provided:
- Proof that the individual has been deceased for more than 20 years (a death certificate is preferable. However, any document which indicates the date of death, for example an obituary notice, is acceptable.);
- The individual's place of residence during the registration period.

Price notes:
To provide third-party information from the National Registration File of 1940 for genealogical purposes, a standard fee of $48.15 ($45 search fee and $3.15 GST) is charged for each search undertaken that is successful in locating the requested record. A cheque or money order made payable to Statistics Canada is required.

Census Pension Searches Unit
Census Operations Division
Statistics Canada
B1E-34 Jean Talon Building
Tunney's Pasture
OTTAWA, Ontario
K1A 0T6


Homestead Records

Canada needed farmers to settle the west so immigration agents were sent throughout the British Isles and Europe to let people know that the Canadian government was offering homestead grants of 160 acres for "free". There was a $10 registration fee to make it legal.

To qualify for the homestead grant the farmer had to:

  • be a male, 21 years of age or
  • a woman who was the sole support for family
  • had to live on the homestead at least 6 months in each of the three years
  • had to crop at least 30 acres, build a substantial house, have a barn and animals
  • be or become a naturalized British subject

It is important to note:

1. The date of entry. Families generally arrived in the country within a three month period of this date. This date could help you with when to begin your search for a passenger list. Check the date to see if they were here in time to be included in the 1901 or earlier census. The census was generally taken in early April.
2. The family size and date listed on the application form and sworn statement. Note if the family has increased or decreased during this period of time. Unfortunately, not all application forms have survived but Sworn Statements are part of the homestead file.
3. The date of naturalization. Remember the homesteader had to live in Canada for three years before they could be naturalized.
4. The signature. Is it the same as you have seen on other documents?
5. The names of the people who gave the supporting statements. The years they swear they have known the applicant refers to the years they have known them in Canada.

Homestead files are available from:

1. The archives of the province where they were located.
2. The homestead index and records were microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are available at the Family History Library or through a Family History Centre.
3. The National Archives of Canada, at their ArchiviaNet web site have a database of those who received Patents only

. If you order a copy of the file, you will receive a certificate to indicate that the homesteader did receive a Patent. All the original homestead files are in the Provincial Archives.

Hint: Use the database to find a homestead location. If you know the location, you can use this information to find the names of the neighbours. If you do not find an entry for the name you are searching, but do know the location or approximate location, you can use the database to see who received the Patent for that particular quarter section. You will also see what name the homesteader used to acquire the homestead.

For a list of those who purchased land from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), check the CPR Database at the Glenbow Archives web site. The initial grant is found at Glenbow Archives,130 9th Avenue South East, Calgary, AB, T2G 0P3. The subsequent records are found at the Land Titles Office for that location.


Searching for Lost Relatives

The International Red Cross in Kyiv may be able to search for relatives with whom you lost contact - either in Ukraine or in North America.

If you last had news of them in Ukraine during World War II, that is, up to May 1945, please provide any identifying information to the Red Cross. The Red Cross will search for relatives lost in Ukraine during World War II even without an address.
However, if you last had news of your relatives more recently, the Red Cross requires an address no less than 20 years ago, i.e., 1984. There is no cost for searches, but they may take a year or more.

Red Cross in Kyiv
Pushkinska str., 30,
Kyiv, Ukraine
+380 (44) 225-1096
Hours of Operation in Kyiv:
Tuesday: 10 am - 12 noon
Thursday: 2 pm - 4 pm

Canada Red Cross

American Red Cross
National Headquarters
2025 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006 USA
tel: (202) 737-8300



Below are some general questions to consider in your genealogical search. They are by no means complete but can give you some additional places for you to search.

• Have I gathered clues & records at home from Scrapbooks, photo albums, diaries, letters, journals, account ledgers, family Bibles, school yearbooks and other personal family items?

• Have I found where all the photographs and documents are located and have I made copies of the important ones? Have I called my relatives to see what pictures they are willing to share?

• Have I interviewed my living relatives for information and stories?

• Am I filling in my family tree on a pedigree chart? Am I using forms and charts to help organize my work?

• Do I have a filing system and do I have a good genealogy software program to help organize my information?

• Have I searched the Internet search engines for my family names?

• Have I searched the records of “Ancestry World Tree”, “Rootsweb World Connect”, “'s Online Family Tree”, to see if my family names appear?

• Am I using the various Message Boards in my search? Ukraine Genealogy Forum
Am I composing queries & messages to these message Boards

• Am I familiarizing myself with the various library and archive resources there are around Toronto and in other locations and Online?

• Am I using the LDS Family History Centers in my search? Have I searched their parish records for Birth, Marriage and Death records?

• Have I searched the Gazetteers for my ancestor’s villages/towns?

• With regard to growing up over there:
Is there a history of the village? How large was it? Are there descriptions of what it was like to have lived there at that time? Were there other relatives? Are there any now? Are any relatives still alive who can describe what it was like, at the time?

• What did the newspapers report on what was happening around the world and in their country on the day they were born? What was happening here, in Canada? What do the History books offer? Why did they leave?

• With regard to the trip over:
How long did it take? What was the route? Were there lay-overs?
Are weather records available of what was happening during the voyage? When leaving? When arriving? Are there descriptions of the trip over?

• What did the newspapers report what was happening in the World and their country, when they left and when they arrived? What were they facing when they arrived? What was happening in Canada?

• Have I searched the Passenger lists records on their trip over? Do I have a picture of the boat?

• Have I searched the Census Records here and over there?

• Have I searched the Land Records of my ancestors?

• Have I searched the City Directories where they lived in Canada?

• Have I searched the Death records and Cemetery Records where they died?

• Are there Military Records of my ancestors?

• Have I checked their Naturalization Records and the National Registration Records for 1940?

• What about Probate & Wills records?