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Passenger lists before 1881 for Nova Scotia are practically nonexistent; however, the Public Archives of Nova Scotia does have a few scattered lists for ships arriving from Great Britain (no more than 30). These cover many of the years between 1749 and 1864. There is one list for ships arriving from France in 1636. Two valuable indexes for this early period are:
- Smith, Leonard H. Nova Scotia Immigrants to 1867. 2 vols. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992–1994. (Family History Library book 971.6 W2S)
- Norton, Judith A.New England Planters in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, 1759–1800: Bibliography of Primary Sources. Toronto; Buffalo [N.Y.]: University of Toronto Press in association with Planters Studies Center, Acadia University, 1993. (Family History Library book 971.5 W23n)
The passenger lists from 1881 to 1900 for ships arriving at Halifax are available on microfilm at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, the Family History Library, or local Family History Centers (on 12 Family History Library films beginning with 1642682). Many arriving passengers are also mentioned in Halifax newspapers.
Canadian Border Crossing Records
The United States kept records of people crossing the border from Canada to the United States. These records are called border crossing lists, passenger lists, or manifests. There are two kinds of manifests:
- Manifests of people sailing from Canada to the United States.
- Manifests of people traveling by train from Canada to the United States.
In 1895, Canadian shipping companies agreed to make manifests of passengers traveling to the United States. The Canadian government allowed U.S. immigration officials to inspect those passengers while they were still in Canada. The U.S. immigration officials also inspected train passengers traveling from Canada to the United States. The U.S. officials worked at Canadian seaports and major cities like Québec and Winnipeg. The manifests from every seaport and emigration station in Canada were sent to St. Albans, Vermont.
The Family History Library has copies of both kinds of manifests. Because the manifests were sent to St. Albans, Vermont, they are grouped under St. Albans District Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory. Despite the name, the manifests are actually from seaports and railroad stations all over Canada and the northern United States, not just Vermont.
Border Crossing Manifests. Manifests may include information about each passenger's name, port or station of entry, date of entry, age, literacy, last residence, previous visits to the United States, and birthplace. The manifests are reproduced in two series:
Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895–1954. (608 rolls; Family History Library films 1561087–499) Includes records from seaports and railroad stations all over Canada and the northern United States. These manifests provide two types of lists:
- Traditional passenger lists on U.S. immigration forms.
- Monthly lists of passengers crossing the border on trains. These lists are divided by month. In each month, the records are grouped by railroad station. (The stations are listed in alphabetical order.) Under the station, the passengers are grouped by railroad company.
Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific Ports, 1929–1949. (25 rolls; Family History Library films 1549387–411) These list travelers to the United States from Canadian Pacific seaports only.
Border Crossing Indexes. In many cases, index cards were the only records kept of the crossings. These cards are indexed in four publications:
- Soundex Index to Canadian Border Entries through the St. Albans, Vermont, District, 1895–1924.(400 rolls; Family History Library films 1472801–3201)
The Soundex is a surname index based on the way a name sounds rather than how it is spelled. Names like Smith and Smyth are filed together.
- Soundex Index to Entries into the St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1924–1952. (98 rolls; Family History Library films 1570714–811)
- St. Albans District Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory: Records of Arrivals through Small Ports in Vermont, 1895–1924. (6 rolls; Family History Library films 1430987–92) The records are arranged first by port and then alphabetically by surname. Only from Vermont ports of entry: Alburg, Beecher Falls, Canaan, Highgate Springs, Island Pond, Norton, Richford, St. Albans, and Swanton.
- Detroit District Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory: Arrivals at Detroit, Michigan, 1906–1954. (117 rolls; Family History Library films 1490449–565) Only from Michigan ports of entry: Bay City, Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault Ste. Marie.
The area comprising present-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island was once known as Arcadie. Eventually the name became Acadia. The area was first settled by the French, who established Port Royal (present-day Annapolis) in 1605. The territory passed back and forth from French to English hands many times: 1632 (French rule), 1654 (English), 1667 (French), 1690 (English), 1697 (French), and 1713 (English). In accordance with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, France ceded the Nova Scotia peninsula and the New Brunswick area to England. England did little to settle the area, and the French-speaking Acadians were the majority until about 1750. France still retained Ile Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island) and Cape Breton Island (now part of Nova Scotia), where Louisbourg became the capital.
A large number of the Acadians were deported by the English from 1755 to 1760. To escape deportation, many fled to Québec, or what is now New Brunswick. In 1759 the Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island areas fell to Britain; their settlers were deported to France. In 1763 France ceded most of its maritime lands to England, and the area became known as Nova Scotia.
In 1769 a separate province, Saint John's Island, was established. It became Prince Edward Island in 1799. In 1784 the New Brunswick area also became a separate province. About this time many Acadians who had been deported agreed to sign the oath of allegiance to England and were allowed to take up lands in the Maritime Provinces. They worked primarily as farmers and fishermen. For the most part, they continued to speak French and uphold their Roman Catholic faith.
Because of this great dispersion, the Acadian records are only complete for the early years of settlement. There are some good church registers from the late 1600s to 1755. Registers exist for Port Royal only for the earliest years.
The most important remaining sources for Acadian research are:
- Parish Registers. Most of the remaining registers are housed in the Centre d'archives de la Capitale in the city of Québec and in Le Centre d'études acadiennes (Center for Acadian Studies) in Moncton, New Brunswick. (See Nova Scotia Archives and Libraries for addresses.)
- Census Records. See Nova Scotia Census for information about Canadian censuses.
- Land Grants. These can be found at the Archives des Colonies in Paris, France, as well as on microfilm at the National Archives of Canada.
- Notarial Records. Most of these records have been lost or destroyed as a result of the exile of the Acadians from Canada. There are, however, some records for 1687–1758. These are available at Le Centre d'études acadiennes (Center for Acadian Studies) and the National Archives of Canada.
- Other Records. Several sources exist which are primarily Acadian records. These are lists of deported Acadians, Acadians in transit, and Acadians in the British Colonies; petitions of Acadians in Massachusetts; and allegiance lists. These may be found in periodicals published by various historical and genealogical societies.
Good sources for research are Placide Gaudet’s Acadian Genealogy and Notes and Archange Godbout’s genealogical collection. They are both located at Le Centre d'études acadiennes (Center for Acadian Studies) and the National Archives of Canada. Another good source for Acadian research is Histoire & Généalogie des Acadiens, by Bona Arsenault (Family History Library book 971.5 F2aa; film 873863 items 1–2).
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