Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian national archive, holds original passenger arrival records. You can search a massive index to them on their website for free.

 

Canadian Passenger Arrival Lists: The Good and Bad News

There’s good news and bad news for those searching for Canadian passenger arrival lists. 

The Bad News:

You won’t find a lot of Canadian passenger arrival lists before 1865. There are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving prior to 1865 in Canada according to the Library and Archives Canada. Unfortunately, those lists didn’t generally survive.

Those that have can be scattered amongst various French and British collections.

French Passenger Lists to Canada

“Les passagers du Saint-André : la recrue de 1659” is among the French resources at the Library and Archives Canada.

Visit the Passenger Lists page at the Library and Archives Canada here for details lists, years and microfilm numbers.

Good news:

You will be able to find a lot of records after 1865.

And the news gets even better. These records can easily be found online!

“The passenger lists are the sole surviving official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada,” says a Library Archives Canada webpage. “The passenger list is a list of immigrants arriving at an official port of entry on a particular ship on a given date. 

Advertising attracting immigrants to Canada

Newspaper advertising was used to attract immigrants to Canada

Information Found in Canadian Passenger Lists

Generally speaking, each manifest provides the following information:

  • the name of the ship
  • port(s)
  • date(s) of departure and arrival in Canada
  • names
  • ages
  • sex
  • professions or occupations
  • nationalities
  • destinations 

The earlier lists aren’t always so detailed. But in some cases, other lists have information about the travelers’:

  • health
  • religion
  • previous travels to Canada
  • family members
  • and how much they carried in their wallets.

Where to Search for Canadian Passenger Lists 1865-1922

Start your search for free in the Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 collection at the Library and Archives Canada website. 

The city of Quebec, the major arrival port for many years, is covered for nearly that entire time span. 

Quebec City - Major Arrival Port in Canada

Quebec: Major Arrival Port in Canada

If you find it easier to search for these records in genealogy websites (so you can attach them to individuals in your tree), or if you’re specifically looking for passengers whose final destination was the U.S., check out these databases:

Canadian Passenger lists, 1881-1922 at FamilySearch. 

The database includes records for Canadian ports:

  • Quebec City,
  • Halifax,
  • St. John,
  • North Sydney,
  • Vancouver
  • Victoria
  • U.S. ports for passengers who reported Canada as their final destination.

Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 at Ancestry.

Quebec ports are included for these time periods:

  • May 1865–Jun 1908,
  • Jun 1919–Jul 1921,
  • Apr 1925–Nov 1935.

U.S., Passenger and Crew Lists for U.S.-Bound Vessels Arriving in Canada, 1912-1939 and 1953-1962 at Ancestry.

Nearly 100,000 records of travelers to the U.S. via Canada are recorded for the ports of:

  • Montreal
  • Quebec
  • Saint John
  • New Brunswick
  • Halifax
  • Nova Scotia
  • Vancouver
  • British Columbia
  • Victoria
  • British Columbia
  • Toronto
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
Mixed group immigrants, Quebec

Mixed group immigrants, Quebec

More Great Canada Genealogy Resources

We have several more resources to assist you in your Canadian family history research. 

  • Click here to learn why Quebec Church Records are a Great Place to Look for Ancestors.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Basse-Ville (Lower Town). Wikimedia Commons image; click to view.

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