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In 1760, Québec had 65,000 inhabitants. Most were of French origin. By 1791, the population had increased to 160,000 because of a high birthrate and the arrival of about 20,000 English-speaking people. American Loyalists were soon joined by Scottish, English, and Irish immigrants. By the mid-1800s, about 25% of the population was of British origin. This has decreased to about 10% today. In 1994, French was the native language of about 81% of Québec's seven million inhabitants.
In the early twentieth century, the largest groups of immigrants were the British, eastern Europeans and Italians. Recently immigrants have arrived from Portugal, Haiti, Greece, and various southeast Asian countries. Many have settled in Montréal.
There are only scattered immigration records for other groups before 1865.
American Loyalists. Because of the American Revolution, many Loyalists settled in Canada. An example of a source for American Loyalists who arrived before 1800 is:
The Loyalists of the Eastern Townships of Québec. Stanbridge East, Québec, Canada: Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch U.E.L., 1984. (FHL book 971.4 H2Le.) May show place of origin, arrival date, military unit, residences, land purchases, and sources. This is indexed in:
Reisinger, Joy. Index to Loyalists of the Eastern Townships. [Sparta, Wisconsin, USA]: Joy Reisinger, 198-?. (Family History Library book 971.4 H2Le index.)
Scottish Immigrants. Beginning in 1815, immigration from the British Isles was encouraged. One source for Scottish immigrants who settled in the Eastern Townships between 1838 and 1890 is:
Lawson, Bill. A Register of Emigrant Families from the Western Isles of Scotland to the Eastern Townships of Québec, Canada. Eaton Corner, Québec Canada: Compton County Historical Museum Society, 1988. (Family History Library book 971.4 D2L.)
Passenger lists before 1865 for the province of Québec are extremely scarce. A few passenger lists of families from the counties of Donegal, Derry, and Tyrone in Ireland who sailed from Derry to Québec are included in:
Mitchell, Brian, Editor. Irish Passenger Lists 1847–1871: Lists of Passengers from Londonderry to America on Ships of the J. & J. Cooke Line and the McCorkell Line. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Genealogical Publishing, 1988. (Family History Library book 973 W3mi.)
Names of early Québec immigrants from other published lists have been indexed in:
Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, Three Volumes plus annual supplements Detroit, Michigan, USA: Gale Research, 1981–. (Family History Library book 973 W32p; some volumes on Family History Library film beginning with film 1597960 items 4–6.)
More than 40,000 Québec residents moved to the United States between 1840 and 1850. Another 500,000 moved to the United States between 1850 and 1900. The U.S. naturalization records include valuable information on many of them. If your ancestor left before 1900 and settled in the northeastern United States, look in:
United States, Immigration and Naturalization Service. Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791–1906. Washington, DC, USA: National Archives, 1983. (Family History Library film 1429671–787.)
Other U.S. naturalization records are discussed in United States Naturalization and Citizenship.
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. Many passengers from Québec went to New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine. 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 called, St. Albans District Manifest 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 person's name, port or station of entry, date of entry, 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–January 1921. (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 film 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 film 1570714–811.)
Alphabetical Index to Canadian Border Entries through Small Ports in Vermont, 1895–1924. (6 rolls; 1430987–92). Arranged first by port and then alphabetically by surname. From Vermont ports of entry only: Alburg, Beecher Falls, Canaan, Highgate Springs, Island Pond, Norton, Richford, St. Albans, and Swanton.
Card Manifests (Alphabetical) of Individuals Entering through the Port of Detroit, Michigan, 1906–1954. (117 rolls; Family History Library film 1490449–565.) Michigan ports of entry only: Bay City, Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault Ste. Marie.
Other Emigration and Immigration Guides
Manifests for ships coming to the city of Québec and other major Canadian ports after 1865 are described in Canada Emigration and Immigration. France Emigration and Immigration and United States Emigration and Immigration list important sources of information about migrating people. These sources include many reference to people who either left or settled in Québec. Tracing Immigrant Origins introduces the principles of research, search strategies, and additional record types you can use to identify an immigrant ancestor's original hometown.
Digitized images of the manifests are available at Library and Archives of Canada web site. These can be searched by the name of ship, year of arrival, or other criteria, but not by the names of individuals.
Records of ethnic groups in Québec are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under QUEBEC - MINORITIES. Information about ethnic emigrants from Québec is available in many books written about other nations, provinces, or states. These books are listed in the Subject Search under headings such as FRENCH-CANADIANS - MAINE.
The inGeneas Database contains records from a variety of immigration records (other than passenger lists) for the time period of 1748 to 1906. For the most part, these records have been extracted from microfilm of the original records held at several archives and libraries. It also contains passenger list records for immigrants arriving at Canadian ports between 1748 and 1873.