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11-11-2011, 09:49 AM
Website offers chance to seek family historyPublished Friday November 11th, 2011

Despite our national promise to not forget our military heroes, many Canadians are unaware of the military contribution their ancestors may have made to their country.

In a recent survey, Ancestry.ca, Canada's leading family history website, discovered that more than one-third of Canadians do not know if their ancestors fought in the First or Second World War, while nearly half of the population are unaware if their ancestors were awarded a medal for their military service.

In honour of Remembrance Day, and to help Canadians learn more about their military ancestors, the website is offering free access to its complete collection of Canadian military records, that started Wednesday and continues until Sunday. These collections contain more than one million images and more than 700,000 original records.

The Remembrance Day records include collections such as the Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918 and Canada, Militia and Defence Forces Lists, 1832, 1863-1939 databases.

These will be of interest to the millions of Canadians with ancestors who fought in the wars that helped to define the nation.

It should be noted some of these databases are already available free online, but ancestry.ca's free trial does give those using the free trial period a chance to access them all in one easy to navigate package.

For those Canadians who do not to know whether their ancestors took part, these collections can help them potentially make discoveries about the unknown military heroes in their family tree.

And for those whose female ancestors served their country, the open database accounts for the many women who served as nurses and later as members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps alongside the soldiers of the First World War. These brave women can be found in service and burial records and registers.

Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918 contains more than half a million records and includes attestation papers of all the soldiers who enlisted in the Canadian forces. Attestation papers indicated the willingness of the men to serve in the forces and also details their birthplace, age, next of kin and regimental number.

Canada, CEF Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1919 contains more than 70,000 records detailing the circumstances of death of approximately two-thirds of the 68,000 Canadian soldiers who fought and died in the First World War in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

These registers, also known as the 'Black Binders,' record the final resting place of the soldier, nurse or other individual, and record the notification of the next of kin.

To discover their military heroes, Canadians can visit www.ancestry.ca/Remember.

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