Alien Naturalization in Canada- Becoming a British or Canadian Citizen


Persons born within the British king or queen’s dominion and allegiance, born in a foreign land to a father who was a British subject or born on a British ship regardless of location automatically became citizens of Canada as per the Naturalization Act of 1914. The influx of British citizens into Upper Canada [1791-1841] and Canada West [1841-1867] from locations in the British Dominion was generally not a concern and was encouraged.

Naturalization Records, 1828-1850 – Upper Canada and Canada West
Concerns rose about the loyalty of Americans coming to settle in Canada in the early 1800s due to them having lived in a republic.  The Library and Archives of Canada [LAC] website notes that “The Act to Secure and Confer upon Certain Inhabitants of this Province the Civil and Political Rights of Natural Born British Subjects was passed in 1828. Under this act, alien men who had been living in Upper Canada for seven years, were expected to take an oath of allegiance before the County Registrar and thus become British subjects.”

The following database on the LAC website records the taking of these oaths of allegiance:
Naturalization Records, 1828-1850 – Upper Canada and Canada West

The database can be searched by surname and given name. The original index entries have been digitized and are part of the “return” of the database search. Due to the age of the records they may or may not be easy to read.

Naturalization Records, 1915–1951
A second database on the LAC website, Naturalization Records, 1915–1951 contains digitized images from the Canadian Gazette for aliens who went through the naturalization process. These people had lived in Canada for at least 1 year and the British Empire for the remainder of the 5 year residence requirement. They were judged to be of good character and did not have a disability such as being a married woman, a minor, a lunatic or an idiot [as of the Naturalization Act of 1914]. Fortunately the definition of disability changed in subsequent acts.

This database has two parts to it. For 1915-1946 you search by name and country of origin. For 1947-1951 you search by year and month. See the LAC website for more information. As noted above, the database provides an image of a printed page from the Canada Gazette. The type of certificate given is noted in the entry for your naturalized ancestor. The certificate could carry one of the following designations:
Series A: Certificates granted to Aliens.
Series B: Certificates granted to Aliens where names of minor children are included.
Series C: Certificates granted to Minors.
Series D: Certificates granted to persons whose nationality as British Subjects is in doubt.
Series E: Certificates granted to persons naturalized under prior Acts.
Series F and G: Repatriations.

Details about accessing the naturalization file of your ancestor can be found on the LAC website. I cannot speak to what a file might contain as I have not requested one as of the date of writing this blog post. I did find the Canada Gazette page for a collateral line relative Oskar Nordland who was naturalized in 1933.

Alan Campbell
Lambton Lifeline

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