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Canadian Immigration Records Online

4 October 2008

70 Years of Historic Canadian Immigration Records Now Online

The following press release went out from Ancestry.ca, announcing a new collection of Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935. These lists include passengers arriving in Canada, via ship and also overland from the U.S.

Ancestry.ca launches Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 – one in three Canadians descended from immigrants listed in this collection

  • The official records of immigration to Canada by ship and overland from the US – indexed and fully searchable online for the first time
  • Detailed records for all major Canadian ports
  • Tommy Douglas, Lord Stanley, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin among many famous names to appear.

In a world first, Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, today launched online the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, which contains more than 7.2 million names, including 5.6 million of those who travelled from around the world to start a new life in Canada.

The collection is fully indexed by name, month, year, ship and port of origin and arrival of more than 4,000 ships, and includes original images for more than 310,000 pages of historical records. It is the first time that these records have been indexed and made available online.

The Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, the originals of which are held by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC), are the official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada during this key immigration period.

An estimated 11.6 million Canadians or 37 per cent of its current population have ancestors included in this collection , which also includes records for many vacationers and travellers, business people, crew members and historical figures such as foreign leaders, scientists and celebrities.

The collection includes passenger lists from all the major ports of arrival including Halifax, Saint John, North Sydney, Quebec City, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and even east coast ports in the US where many arrived before proceeding directly to Canada overland.

The main immigrant nationalities arriving in Canada during this period of rapid growth were British, Irish, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Chinese and Polish (the majority of French immigrants, the second largest Canadian immigrant population, arrived prior to 1865).

Passengers from mainland Europe usually sailed to Great Britain where they boarded trans-Atlantic ships at ports such as Liverpool, London and Glasgow. Immigrants from Europe destined for western Canada landed at ports on the east coast, then continued their journey by train. Ships arriving on the west coast carried passengers from Asia, Australia and Honolulu.

Contained in the collection are records for a number of ships which tragically never made it to their final Canadian destinations, including that of RMS The Empress of Ireland, a passenger ship which was rammed in dense fog on the St Lawrence River near Quebec on the 29th of May 1914 and sank in just 14 minutes. 1,012 passengers and crew drowned – a larger loss of life than when RMS Titanic sank.

Individual records include information such as the passenger’s first and last name, estimated birth year, year of arrival, port of arrival and departure, ship name, occupation, final destination in Canada and other family members listed with their relationship indicated.

Ancestry.ca and Ancestry World Deluxe members can search this database here.

Click here to read the entire press release.

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