Bruce D. Murduck: Genealogist & Family Historian

National Resources Mobilization Act


Canadian records for Genealogists

Copyright 2012, Bruce D. Murduck

A Canadian government response to the outbreak of war in 1939 was the National Resources Mobilization Act, passed 21 June 1940. One provision of this Act immediately affected every adult Canadian.

The National Registration Regulation attached to the Act provided for the establishment of a Registration process - supervised by a Chief Registrar for Canada. The purpose of the registration process was to identify people and resources that could be placed at the disposal of His Majesty King George VI for the duration of the war. No national population census was taken in the spring of 1941, as would normally have been the case, because of the war effort and the existence of this registration process.

The Chief Registrar appointed Chief Assistants in each electoral district in the Country. The Chief Assistants were in turn responsible for engaging Deputy Registrars to carry out the registration process within each electoral district. Interview rooms in public buildings were utilized wherever possible (such as schools), with the thought that each person being interviewed would feel comfortable providing the information required in such a place. A standard, single sheet form was used to gather information.

August, 1940, was established as the month during which the initial interview and registration process would be completed. All persons in Canada who had reached the age of 16 years, British subjects and aliens alike, males and females, were required to register*. Announcements about the requirement were posted in Post Offices across the country, and registration sites were open from 8:00am until 10:00pm each day. Every person who was outside of Canada when the initial registration was completed in August, 1940, was required to register within 30 days of returning to Canada. Similarly, those who reached their 16th birthday between August, 1940, and mid-late 1946, were required to register within 30 days of their birthday.

Each person interviewed during the registration process was required to provide:

In most cases a Deputy Registrar interviewed each person as they presented themselves for registration. The Deputy Registrar recorded the details needed for each section, and the the interviewee was required to sign the registration form after the Deputy Registrar was satisfied that all of his or her questions had been thoroughly and truthfully answered.

The date that each individual was interviewed during the registration process was recorded on each form, as was the electoral district, and, sometimes, the exact location of the interview.

All persons who registered were also provided with a small wallet or purse card, upon which basic registration details were written at the time of registration. All persons who registered were legally obliged to produce this card to enquiring authorities (Police, for instance) whenever asked to do so. Many such cards have passed down to surviving generations as cherished artifacts.

But, the surviving longer interview form as completed at the time of registration conains the most complete set of information, and can be of great use and interest to Genealogists and Family Historians - an individual's record can sometimes be the only readily accessible source that provides the year of that individual's arrival in Canada, thus permitting a more efficient search for immigration records. Sometimes an individual's form can provide the only clue to a parent's or grandparent's date and/or place of birth.

The Registration Forms created under the National Resources Mobilization Act were transferred to the care and custody of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics after the war. Any individual who participated in the registration process has always been entitled to access their personal record by petitioning Statistics Canada. Privacy legislation enacted in 1983 permits access to these records by other persons as well - providing certain conditions are met, and upon the pre-payment of a set fee (plus Goods and Services Taxes).

Some bureaucratic hoops must be jumped through if you wish to obtain copies of an individual's 1940 National Resources Registration record - but they're not onerous. I'm familiar with the requirements and have successfully obtained copies of individual registration forms for several clients. I'd be happy process a request for copies on your behalf as well.

Please note - if a person who registered under these regulations died prior to 1946, this fact became known to Registration officials, and their interview form was removed from the bank, and destroyed. No interview form survives, then, for people who registered under the regulations some time during or after August, 1940, and the time of their death if they died before mid-late 1946.

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(Latest Revision: January 2012)