Ancestry: Canada, South African War Land Grants, 1908-1910

The first time Canada sent troops overseas to fight a war was the Boer War (also known as the Second Boer War or South African War). Some may say this is the second war and therefore I have a note about Mahdist War is below.  

During the Boer War (1899-1902), about 7,300 Canadian troops and 12 Nursing Sisters (nurses) served in South Africa. In 1908 the Bounty Land Acts gave Canadian veterans 320 acres of Dominion Land in South Africa or a payment of $160 in scrip.   

Ancestry has a database of the application forms at

This database contains applications for these bounty land grants. Applications typically includes the following details:

  • name
  • regiment
  • service start date, location
  • end date of service
  • residence at time of application
  • death date and location are listed only for those whose relatives who are applying as a beneficiary of the bounty. 

There are two pages for most applications therefore click the right arrow to see the second page. If you want to save the document, save both pages individually. It does not automatically save both pages.

The majority of the war veterans had returned home to Canada. The applications came from all provinces and two territories. The application was done in 1908 so all western provinces were now part of Canada. No one was from what is known today as Nunavut. 

Of the applications not living in Canada, 295 were living in South Africa. Other countries these veterans were living in include England, Fiji, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, a few different states in United States and Wales.
At least one of the twelve Nursing Sisters applied for the bounty.

A few applications were requested for family members when the soldier had died. A father applied for his son and the battle his son died in is listed. A few widows apply because their husband had died. Date of death is given as proof. A sister applied but her brother's death date or information is not given. 

Note about Boer War being the first war Canada went overseas to fight. 
Canada participated in the Mahdist War as a Belligerent and may be considered the first overseas participation as a nation.

"On January 26th, 1885 a British relief force of over 5,000 soldiers which had struggled its way up the Nile from Cairo, spotted their objective, Khartoum, with them were dozens of Canadians who had brought the British boats upriver. "The Canadian boatmen were known as the “Nile Voyageurs”. The first group of Canadians in the young country’s history, to participate in military action overseas. "Because they were civilians contracted by the British military, with the consent of the Canadian government, and did not wear uniforms, it is actually more correct to say it was Canada’s first participation as a part of a British military expedition abroad."

For more information also see

"Voyagers" was the name of the (mostly) French Canadians who transported furs by canoe in the fur trading years for companies such as the Hudson's Bay Company.

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