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pre-1865 | 1865-1919 | 1919-1924 | 1925-1935 | post-1935 | US via Canada
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st. lawrence in winterNational Archives of Canada C-000908
"St. Lawrence River in Winter," by Millicent Mary Chaplin Feb. 1842

Although passenger lists, or lists of passengers, were created for most ships arriving at Canadian ports, there was no formal archiving of these lists until 1865, for the port of Quebec. Few lists created prior to 1865 survive. From 1865, the vast majority of immigrants to Canada arrived via the port of Quebec, and during the winter months, via the ports of New York, NY, Boston, MA, Portland, ME and later to Halifax, NS and Saint John, NB. Although steam ships began to carry passengers to Canada as early as 1840, there were still many sailing ships in 1865. Sailing vessels would carry Emigrants westbound, and timber eastbound, and were able to offer cheap affordable fares. By the1870s, most passengers were carried by steam ships. Westbound vessels sailed from numerous ports in Britain and Europe, and from the 1860s, many European and Scandinavian emigrants traveled first by Feeder ship to England, or another European emigration port. These emigrants were referred to as transmigrants, and they embarked on transatlantic steam ships at major emigration ports such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Hamburg, Rotterdam or Havre, to North America.

In 1865, because there were excellent rail connections and/or inward passage on Lake and River Steamers from Quebec (later from Canadian east coast ports), many thousands of immigrants destined to the US Mid-West and elsewhere in North America also arrived via Canada.

DISCUSSION

The passenger lists for the sailing ships may contain either a little, or quite a lot of information. The least to expect is the name of "head of household" only, with check marks indicating the numbers and sex, and age grouping of the other members of the party. The most you may expect to find is the full names and ages of all family and/or group members, their place of origin, and in a few cases, their destination. You may also find notes about the birth or death (and date) of an individual. Most lists do have the names of everyone recorded. You will not find these lists to be uniform in their content.

Passenger lists for steam ships were mostly created by British pursers, and their knowledge of foreign naming practices may have been limited. For this reason, eg. in the case of Norwegians, you may only find all family members listed with the patronymic name of the "head of household." Until approximately mid-1890's, all passengers who were not of "British birth" are found designated as "Foreign." For the passengers planning to remain in Canada, you will find more information than for those proceeding directly to the United States. The records for US bound passengers may only include, name and age and occasionally occupation and/or destination.

IMMIGRATION RECORDS CREATED 1865-1919

 
 
Canadian Passenger Lists 1865-1935 on Ancestry.com
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UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
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The port of Quebec was the first Canadian port to archive passenger lists. With few exceptions for ships which called at both Halifax, then Quebec, there are only Quebec arrivals available until the beginning of archiving at Halifax, 1881. Annually, Quebec had a shipping season of approximately 24 weeks, as the St. Lawrence River was closed to shipping during the winter months. The available records are fairly complete, with a few documented omissions of passenger lists which did not survive. None of these records were microfilmed until 1949, and were filmed by contractors, and not to the archival standards of today. The result is that some records which were already in a faded condition, are therefore difficult to read, but others are wonderful. The microfilm reels 1865-1919 contain all ships, from all ports in chronological order of their arrival. They vary in the information recorded, depending upon the Canadian immigration requirements currently in force. You will find passengers destined to the United States in these reels, but sometimes the information recorded for those passengers can be minimal, compared to those who were bound to Canadian destinations. These records are generally unindexed at the National Library & Archives of Canada. There is an old nominal card index, of questionable accuracy, for Quebec arrivals 1865-1869 and Halifax arrivals 1881-1882.. Each index card provides name, sometimes age, name of ship, date of arrival and the reel number on which that list appears. When consulting the index, beware of spelling variations and mis-filings.

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FORM 30A IMMIGRATION RECORDS CREATED 1919-1924

Form 30A Immigration records were kept during the period 1919-1924 and the alphabetical microfilm reels contain all Canadian bound passengers to all ports in Canada and to Canada via US ports. They are in the form of a single manifest sheet for each passenger. In 1925, Canada returned to a standard "big sheet" passenger manifest. Be aware, that the Form 30A alphabetical reels are not in strict alphabetical order, with records sometimes inter-filed. Click here to see a facsimile of a blank Form 30A record and the type of information they can contain.. For a short time, some ports during this period also filed big sheet manifests, so check the list below. Go to The National Library & Archives of Canada website for details of the Form 30A holdings, and how to consult the records.

Passengers proceeding directly to US destinations from Canadian ports during 1919-1924, will not appear on a Form 30A record. As some ports also continued to keep the big sheet manifest for a short time during the Form 30A period, (those lists did include all passengers, regardless of destination) you may find US destined passengers, but the St. Albans Lists would be a better source of information.

  • Quebec, PQ continued big sheet manifests until 1921-07-13
  • Halifax, NS continued big sheet manifests until 1922-10-02
  • Saint John, NB continued big sheet manifests until 1922-09-30
  • North Sydney, NS continued big sheet manifests until 1922-08-31
  • Vancouver, BC continued big sheet manifests until 1922-09-28
  • Victoria, BC (& Pacific ports) continued big sheet manifests until 1922-09-30
  • *New York, NY (Can. arrivals) continued big sheet manifests until 1921-12-08
  • *Eastern US ports (Can. arrivals) continued big sheet manifests until 1921-11-04

*note: the passengers included on the lists to the US ports noted, are only those who stated their intention to proceed directly to Canada.

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IMMIGRATION RECORDS CREATED 1925-1935

On January 1st 1925, Canada suspended the use of Form 30A Immigration forms, and resumed the use of the big sheet manifest for all ports. At The National Library & Archives of Canada, an online index has been created in cooperation with the Pier 21 Society, for Passenger Arrivals to Canada, for the years 1925 to 1935. This index was created from a microfilmed Immigration index, and only represents those who intended to stay in Canada. When searching the online index, make use of the "wildcard" option to ensure you see possible spelling variations. The online index, is simply that, an index, and the microfilmed passenger list for the same arrival will include a lot more information. Be aware that the index will contain errors and/or omissions, as some of the microfilmed index was difficult to read or decipher. If you are searching for a US destined passenger who arrived via Canada during 1925-1935, there will be no Canadian record found. The only proof of the arrival for such passengers will be their US border entry record. These US border entry records (The St. Albans Lists) are named for the repository of the records ... St. Albans, Vermont, District.

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IMMIGRATION RECORDS CREATED AFTER 1935

The records for immigration to Canada, which were created from January 1st 1936, are not yet available to the public. You are able to obtain an abstract from the landing certificate for your own arrival, but Citizenship and Immigration will not be able to copy the full passenger list for you because of Canadian privacy laws. You can read about post-1935 records on The National Archives of Canada website. You are also able to obtain an abstract for arrivals of others in the post-1935 period, however, certain conditions apply . . . see the post-1935 records link above.

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UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION RECORDS

St. Albans Lists: From 1895, in addition to the Canadian ship list, there could also be a US record in the immigration records at the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) called the "St. Albans Lists." The St. Albans lists are actually several publications. To learn more about these records, consult the Prologue article at NARA "By Way of Canada." The two of interest to you are given below with the NARA publication number (i.e., M-1461). Not all border ports began recording immigrants in 1895. It is necessary to consult the index. The same records are also available by the LDS Family History Centers, but they use a different publication number.
Visit this website Immigration Microfilm CATalog Converter to learn the LDS equivalent of the NARA microfilm numbers

You would want, first:
M-1461 Soundex Index to Canadian Border Entries through the St. Albans, VT, District, 1895--1924. M1461. 400 rolls. (Roll 218 not used). 16mm. This is a Soundex name index to entries at all the ports along the Canadian Border and the Great Lakes. The record will be a card record with either a lot or a little information (usually, a lot!). You can see a roll list of these records.

You'll also want to see:
M-1464 Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895--1954. M1464. 640 rolls. These are actually big sheet manifests, like for ships, but they were filled out when the immigrant entered the US through a border port like Port Huron, Buffalo or Chicago. These records are usually filed first by date(month), then by port(border port), then by sea port(Quebec, Montreal, Halifax, Saint John). These records contain much more information than the earlier Canadian Passenger Lists. They also give the name/address and the people who were left behind, with the relationship to the Immigrant, they give the name/address and relationship of the person the Immigrant was going to in the US. You may also find out the height, eye color and hair color of your Immigrant.

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IMMIGRATION &c. RECORDS CREATED BEFORE 1865

Pre-Archiving: Many records for the pre-archiving period can be found right here within the many many hundreds of pages on TheShipsList, by using the navigation-bars at the top of each page . . eg. Passenger Lists. Also, pay special attention to the newspaper accounts of Ships' Arrivals at Quebec as quite often passengers were named, or an incident caused their name to be mentioned . . . and . . . TheShipsList new project of the St. Lawrence Steamboat Co. Passenger Records 1819-1836, offer a never before published record set of passenger lists of many new immigrants arriving via the port of Quebec and embarking on a steamboat for Montreal to begin the next leg of their inward journey to Canadian or US destinations.
Links to off-site resources may be found at the bottom of this page, for example: If you would like an idea of what it was like to come to Canada, and then move inland in the 19th century you should visit the web-site: The Voyage. You will find emigration handbooks, like the CAA or AAA books of today which help us when we plan a trip. Of special interest is the Immigration Agent's report of 1853, as it contains routes and fares in Canada and also to the US from Quebec and Montreal. You will also find many voyage accounts and other items of interest. A few early manifests were found at the LAC and they are available online for searching. The commercial site inGeneas have these early records in a database, freely available to search and duly cited. The inGeneas site also has a "pay" database which they add to regularly, which is quite free to search, but if you wish a copy of the record, then there is a charge. An invaluable website for early Canadian records is Lorine McGinnis Schulzes' Olive Tree Genealogy site. Choose "To Canada" in the top menu. Lorine has links to land records and County Altlas' and census records which may help you pin-point where to find more about your immigrant ancestors. The Olive Tree also has links and information about very early Palatinate and French records for Canada. Also, at the LAC, visit the Genealogy Research Pages to learn about "France to the Colonies" for which they hold scattered records for the years 1732 and 1749 to 1760 plus the LI-RA-MA (Russian Consular records) 1898-1922

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CANADIAN MICROFILM HOLDINGS & SOURCES

       Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 LAC scanned passenger list images

The National Archives of Canada (LAC) have copies of all the available manifests on microfilm, 1865-1935 (see the list of ports and years below). For the period 1919-1924, a different type of record was kept, Form 30A. Passengers destined to the United States can be found in Canadian records, from 1865 up to 1919, and in some instances up until 1921-22. See passenger lists by port of arrival at the National Achives of Canada. In Canada, the practice of archiving passenger manifests (passenger lists) began in different years for different ports. You are able to borrow these microfilms free of charge through your local Library by Inter Library Loan (ILL). You are also able to ILL free of charge, from Ottawa, to libraries in the US, and outside North America. You can find the details for this procedure here at LAC website.

Terminology and Abbreviations used on Canadian Immigration Records
at the National Library & Archives of Canada website

Records are available for:

  • Québec ports
    • QUÉBEC 1865 - 1921
    • QUÉBEC/MONTRÉAL 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • QUÉBEC 1925 - 1935
    • MONTRÉAL 1925 - 1935
  • Maritime ports
    • HALIFAX 1881 - 1922
    • HALIFAX 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • HALIFAX 1925 - 1935
    • SAINT JOHN 1900 - 1922
    • SAINT JOHN 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • SAINT JOHN 1925 - 1935
    • NORTH SYDNEY 1906 - 1922
    • NORTH SYDNEY 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • NORTH SYDNEY 1925 - 1935
  • British Columbia ports
    • VANCOUVER 1905 - 1922
    • VANCOUVER 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • VICTORIA AND PACIFIC PORTS 1905 - 1922
    • VICTORIA AND PACIFIC PORTS 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • VANCOUVER AND VICTORIA 1925 - 1935
  • United States of America ports
    • NEW YORK 1906 - 1921
    • NEW YORK 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • NEW YORK 1925 - 1931
    • EASTERN U.S. PORTS 1905 - 1921
    • EASTERN U.S. PORTS 1919 - 1924: see Immigration Form 30A
    • EASTERN U.S. PORTS 1925 - 1928

*note: the passengers included on the lists to the US ports noted, are only those who stated their intention to proceed directly to Canada.

Canadian Sources: (other than the National Library & Archives)
These institutions hold copies of the microfilm from 1865 to early 1919 only, unless otherwise indicated.

  • British Columbia Archives and Records Office, Victoria, British Columbia (B.C. ports only)
  • Cloverdale Branch, Surrey Public Library, Surrey, British Columbia (most records up to 1935 excluding Form 30A)
  • Nanaimo Library (Nanaimo Family History Society), 3999 Victoria Ave - Quebec films Oct 31 1895 to April 1910 (more films on order)
  • Provincial Archives of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta Calgary
  • Public Library, Calgary, Alberta Lethbridge
  • Public Library (Lethbridge and District Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society), Lethbridge, Alberta (all ports, 1865 to 1924)
  • Public Library, Regina, Saskatchewan, Prairie History Room (all available records up to 1921-1922, plus North Sydney 1925-1935 ; US-CAN border records 1909-1918) http://www.reginalibrary.ca/prairiehistory/
  • Saskatchewan Archives Board, Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
  • North York Central Branch of the Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ontario (most records up to 1935 including Form 30A)
  • Montreal Municipal Library, Central Branch, Montréal, Quebec
  • Archives nationales du Québec, Québec, Quebec (Quebec ports only)
  • Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, Halifax, Nova Scotia (N.S. ports only)

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LATTER DAY SAINTS MICROFILM SOURCES (at Family History Centres)

LDS records of Canadian Arrivals: The Latter Day Saints family history centres also have copies of the earliest archived records for the ports of Quebec and Halifax, which are listed just below. The LDS have now also purchased and catalogued Ships' passenger lists for Canada, 1900-1922, 1925-1935 and Immigration Form 30A, ocean arrivals, 1919-1924 microfilms. The 1900-1922 & 1925-1935 film notes also include the National Library & Archives of Canada microfilm numbers, so if you have located the LAC microfilm number here you are able to easily locate the LDS film number.
These records are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at Family History Centers (FHC). The FHC is freely open to the public. You do not have to be a member of the church to use the library. To locate the FHC nearest you, check your telephone book's "yellow pages" under "Churches, Latter Day Saints" for a listing, in North America, telephone 1-800-346-6044. Locations can also found at the LDS website.

  • Port of Quebec: Film # 0889440 to 0889467 for the years 1865 to 1899
  • Port of   Halifax: Film # 0889429 to 0889439 for the years 1881 to 1899

For the port of Quebec:
Film # 0889440 to 0889467 for the years 1865 to 1899

LDS number 0889440 ~ 1865
LDS number 0889441 ~ 1866
LDS number 0889442 ~ 1867
LDS number 0889443 ~ 1868
LDS number 0889444 ~ 1869
LDS number 0889445 ~ 1870
LDS number 0889446 ~ 1871
LDS number 0889447 ~ 1872
LDS number 0889448 ~ 1873
LDS number 0889449 ~ 1874 to 1876
LDS number 0889450 ~ 1877 to 1879
LDS number 0889451 ~ 1880
LDS number 0889452 ~ 1881 to 1882-06---
LDS number 0889453 ~ 1882-06--- to 1882-11---
LDS number 0889454 ~ 1883
LDS number 0889455 ~ 1884
LDS number 0889456 ~ 1885
LDS number 0889457 ~ 1886
LDS number 0889458 ~ 1887
LDS number 0889459 ~ 1888
LDS number 0889460 ~ 1889
LDS number 0889461 ~ 1890 to 1891
LDS number 0889462 ~ 1892
[Sept. to Nov. 1892 filmed in reverse chronological order]
LDS number 0889463 ~ 1893
LDS number 0889464 ~ 1894 to 1895
LDS number 0889465 ~ 1896
LDS number 0889466 ~ 1897 to 1898
LDS number 0889467 ~ 1899

  For the port of Halifax:
Film # 0889429-0889439 for the years 1881 to 1899

LDS number 0889429 ~ 1881 to 1882
LDS number 0889430 ~ 1883 to 1884
LDS number 0889431 ~ 1885 to 1886
LDS number 0889432 ~ 1887 to 1888
LDS number 0889433 ~ 1889 to 1891
LDS number 0889434 ~ 1892 to 1893
LDS number 0889435 ~ 1894 to 1895
LDS number 0889436 ~ 1896
LDS number 0889437 ~ 1897
LDS number 0889438 ~ 1898
LDS number 0889439 ~ 1899

 

 

The LDS also holds the microfilms for the nominal card indexes for these two ports, Quebec 1865 to 1869 and Halifax January 1881 to February 1882.

The Halifax 1881-1882 reel number is 1642682

The Quebec microfilms are not in strict numerical order, so it would be better to consult the Catalog at your local Family History Center. (to assist a little)
The A-C Quebec 1865 reel number is 1818591

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IMMIGRATION RECORDS CREATED FOR HOME CHILDREN

The Library & Archives of Canada has an online database for British "Home Children." This database contains the names of child migrants, but is not yet complete. The index was compiled by the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, (BIFHSGO) and we owe them our thanks for a job well done. You should check out Marj Kohli's wonderful site Young Immigrants to Canada for more detailed discussion and information of additional record sources for children.

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IMMIGRATION LINKS FOR EARLY CANADIAN RECORDS

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Last updated: June 05, 2012 and maintained by and M. Kohli