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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian:Immigration Records by Patricia McGregor, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Location of the Records
Library and Archives Canada
LAC holds passenger lists as follows:
- Quebec City and Montreal (Quebec), 1865-1935
- Halifax (Nova Scotia), 1881-1935
- Saint John (New Brunswick), 1900-1935; North Sydney (Nova Scotia), 1906-1935 (these include mostly ferry arrivals from Newfoundland and St-Pierre-et-Miquelon, with a few passengers in transit from other countries)
- Vancouver (British Columbia), 1905-1935;
- Victoria (British Columbia), 1905-1935;
- Via New York, 1906-1931; and other eastern United States ports, 1905-1928 (these lists include only the names of passengers who stated that they intended to proceed directly to Canada).
Use the following finding aid to determine the microfilm you need: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-908.003.02-e.html.
Additionally, there are the following finding aids available:
- an index for Quebec City Passenger Lists Index (1865-1900) http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/passengers-quebec-1865-1900/index-e.html
- an index for Halifax arrivals (Jan. 1881-Feb. 1882) - LAC Microfilm C-15712
Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM) includes records relating to black immigration and settlement in Nova Scotia from 1783 to 1839 (Inventory no. 345). It also holds some records of arrivals from Great Britain and the Netherlands from 1749. There are 10 reels of microfilm for ships arriving at Halifax from 1881-1900. In his bookGenealogical Research in Nova Scotia, Terrence Punch includes the names of ships for which NSARM has passenger lists. (pp. 99-100)
About these records he states the following:
“The surviving passenger lists come from many sources, including some original lists, contemporary and later copies of original lists, and secondary sources.” (p.98)
There is no indication of surviving official passenger lists for ports in Newfoundland. However, “newspapers from small communities would often list vessels arriving and departing along the coastline, mentioning passengers by name.” (Punch, Atlantic Canada p. 55)
The following website provides information on ships to and from Newfoundland ports: http://ngb.chebucto.org/Passenger/index.shtml.
Also worth mentioning is The Maritime History Archive located at Memorial University at St. John’s, Newfoundland which collects and preserves documents related to the history of sea related activities in the north Atlantic.
“A major focus of the Archive’s holdings are records relating to the fishery, trade and settlement of Newfoundland. Some of these records are of particular interest to people researching Newfoundland families.”
Records collected include photographs, maps, parish records, surname indexes, shipping records and student research papers.
Maritime History Archive Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7 Telephone: 709-864-8428 Email: email@example.com http://www.mun.ca/mha/
The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick hold the Custom House Records on microfilm. These include passenger lists and manifests of ships that arrived at the Port of Saint John in 1833, 1834, 1837 and 1838.
The Archives has an online searchable database for Port Returns (including passenger lists) for the years 1816-1838: http://archives.gnb.ca/Irish/Databases/PassengerLists/?culture=en-CA.
The Custom House Records have also been transcribed and published inPassengers to New Brunswick: The Custom House Records by Daniel Johnson, Peter M. Toner and Kenneth Kanner.
Angus Baxter notes that the majority of passenger lists were lost when the Customs House was destroyed by fire in 1877. However, passenger lists for ships of the J.J. Cooke line of Liverpool, England bound for Saint John have been published inIrish Passenger Lists 1847-1871 by Brian Mitchell.
Prince Edward Island
A few early passenger lists have survived and have been published in volumes ofThe Island Magazine, published by the Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation. They have also been indexed and added to the Master Name Index.
In addition, editions of early newspapers 1790-1809 and 1819-1827 have been checked for first class passengers, indexed and published inThe Island Magazine. Keep in mind that the records are not complete—not all editions of the newspapers survived, some custom house records are missing, and names of passengers in steerage were not recorded.
“It is said that ages of children given on passenger lists may not be reliable, having been sometimes stated as less than they actually were as a means of getting cheaper passage if the child was rather small for his or her age, or even exaggerated to get a larger allowance of food.” (Punch 1997, 127)
The British Columbia Archives holds copies of records from Library and Archives Canada (RG 76, Series 1) pertaining to western immigration. Consult their webpage for further information.
Other Sources for Passenger Lists
LAC holds a card index calledMiscellaneous Immigration Index pertaining mainly to British immigrants who came to Quebec and Ontario between 1801 and 1849. The index is also available online at the inGeneas website under ‘Free Databases’: http://www.ingeneas.com/.
The Ships’ List
has been online since 1999 and holds a wealth of information on passenger lists and other immigration details including “immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions and shipping-line fleet lists”.
One interesting group of records is the St. Lawrence Steamboat Company Passenger Records. Many of our ancestors arriving at that time would have travelled from the port of Quebec to Montreal by steamboat. While other companies also existed, it seems that this is the only company for which some records have survived. The passenger records cover the years 1819-1836. The originals are at the McGill University Archives (McCord Museum and McLennan Library), but LAC has copies on microfilms M 8272-M 8287. The Ships’ List has begun transcribing them and so far has put passenger lists transcriptions online covering the years 1819-1828. http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/passengerlists/1819_20index.htm
The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
is a group of volunteers who presently (2007) have transcribed over 12,000 manifests and made them available online for free.
Olive Tree Genealogy
also has a number of transcribed ships lists plus links to other useful websites: http://olivetreegenealogy.com/ships/.
In addition to the above, Olive Tree has added transcriptions of the JJ Cooke Shipping Line Records of Irish passengers sailing from Ireland to Quebec, Saint John New Brunswick, Philadelphia Pennsylvania and New Orleans Louisiana between 1847 and 1858. The index to the online JJ Cooke ships is at: http://olivetreegenealogy.com/ships/jjcooke.shtml.
The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) has publishedThe Lanark Society Settlers by Gerald J. Neville which includes Ships’ Lists of the Glasgow Emigration Society 1821 and a personal name index.
Sometimes lists survive that were created at the point of embarkation. In some cases these were published in local newspapers. The Old Mersey Times website contains pages on emigration and transcriptions of lists of passengers on ships arriving at and departing from Liverpool, England.
Consider joining a mailing list.TheShipsList Mailing List is described at the following website and includes instructions on how to join:
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Immigration Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.