Naturalization records can be a valuable brick wall buster. These records often tell country of origin and immigration details that may not be found in other records. The naturalization process applied to immigrants that did not come from the UK. Our UK ancestors were automatically considered Canadian citizens. Some of the details found in naturalization records can be:
- Place of origin
- Date of arrival in Canada
- Years residing in Canada
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Date of immigration
- Name of ship
If your ancestor applied for Naturalization in British Columbia between 1859 and 1926, then you\’ll want to check out Family Search\’s browse only collection British Columbia Naturalization Records, 1859-1926. This collection of over 23,000 images focuses on naturalization records from Victoria and Cranbrook. The records contain any or all of the following forms:
- Oath of Allegiance
- Oath of Residence
- Naturalization Certificate
To narrow your browsing, first you\’ll want to pick either Victoria or Cranbrook.
The records in this collection consists of 9 boxes covering from 1905 to 1923. This section also includes a handy index. You\’ll want to first go to the index to find your ancestor. These are not listed alphabetically. They are arranged by box and file number. The boxes are arranged by immigration year. Also take note of the Folio number to the right of the applicant\’s name. This will come in handy when you\’re looking for the file.
Once you find your ancestor, just go to the box and file number to get the file. I decided to take a look at Fetsuya Yamaguchi, who applied for Naturalization in 1907. His records are in Box 1 File 9, and he is Folio 39/1907. I then went to the subset Naturalization records Box 1 to Box 6, 1905-1919 and bounced forward through the images. At the bottom of each image is a tag showing the Folio number. I found the start of Fetsuya\’s documents in image 120
Subsequent documents let me know that there was a transcription error on the index. Looking at the handwritten word February alerted me to the fact that his name was actually Tetsuya Yamaguchi. He came to Canada from Yokamaha Japan about 3 years earlier. He was a merchant in Japan, and a labourer in Cranbrook. The documents relating to him included his application, his oaths of allegiance, and his Naturalization Certificate.
Unfortunately there is no index for this section. Covering 1859 to 1917, and then also 1926. It is divided into 6 subsections
- Naturalization records Box 1, file 1, no 1 to Box 10, file 9, no 843, 1859-1896
- Naturalization records Box 10, file 9, no 844 to Box 18, file 9, no 1585, 1896-1899
- Naturalization records Box 18, file 9, no 1586 to Box 26, file 6, no 2288, 1899-1902
- Naturalization records Box 26, file 6, no 2289 to Box 32, file none, no 2938, 1902-1906
- Naturalization records Box 33, file 1, no 2939 to Box 38, file 10, no 3523, 1906-1909
- Naturalization records Box 39, file 1, no 3524 to Box 44, file 11, 4119, 1909-1917, 1926
Since BC did not join Confederation until 1871, the records pre 1871 look different. Before joining Confederation, the Naturalization process was handled by the Colonial Governors. As such, you are going to see more handwritten entries, as opposed to the forms in later years. The earliest years are oaths of allegiance only. Here\’s one from 1859 for William Henry MacNeil
In the years after joining Confederation, you will see the paperwork getting more standardized. First it was still all handwritten, as with Peter Bordot in 1871
Later as the years go on, the forms become very standardized.
As with anything with Family Search, you have the option to zoom in and out on the digital images. As well, you can print or download to your computer. If you want to find out a little more about the collection, you can read Family Search\’s wiki page
on the collection.