Re: Finding Out You Lost Your Citizenship #events

Mel Comisarow

            My grandfather emigrated from Ukraine to Canada in 1912 and was naturalized as a Canadian citizen in 1920. When my father came to Canada in 1922, he assumed, that as a dependent of my father, he automatically became a Canadian citizen. When he registered for the Canadian military draft in 1939, he was informed that he was not a Canadian citizen, so he applied for Canadian citizenship and as a 17-year resident in good standing, he received Canadian citizenship in due course.

            For many years up to the 1980s, transborder movement between Canada and the US was trivially easy for Canadian and American citizens, with only a verbal declaration of citizenship being required for entry into the non-citizenship country. Over the years my parents made many trips to the US, and never had any problem with entry into the US or re-entry into Canada.

            In the 1970s my parents planned a trip to Israel and since passports were required for travel to Israel, each applied for a Canadian passport.  My mother was was then informed that although she was born in Winnipeg and never lived outside of Canada, under the citizenship laws at the time, she lost her Canadian citizenship in 1938 when she married my father, a Russian citizen. As a non-Canadian, if she ever left Canada her entry into Canada was problematic. The only way she could get her own Canadian passport would be to leave Canada, apply to become an immigrant and after immigrating to and residing in Canada for three years, she could apply for and subsequently, in due course, become a naturalized Canadian citizen. However, she could leave and quickly re-enter Canada as a “wife of” entry in my father's passport. So, as the wife of a Canadian citizen my parents made their trip to Israel and returned to Canada. 

            In the 1980s, there was a newspaper item that mentioned that there were a few thousand elderly Canadian women, who, although born in Canada, each lost their citizenship by marrying a foreigner.  The husbands had since died and so the women couldn’t be “wife-of” entries on their husbands’ passports. These women could not travel outside the country for fear of having their re-entry denied.

Mel Comisarow


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