Jump start your Canadian genealogy research and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday! Here are tips for you to start your Canadian genealogy research. Already started? Take it to the next level with resources at Library and Archives Canada.
Canada is celebrating 150 years of nationhood in 2017! To join the party, I invited Claire Banton from Library and Archives Canada to the Genealogy Gems podcast episode 199. We had a great chat about Canada’s history and its planned year-long celebration. And of course, our conversation quickly turned to tips for exploring your Canadian roots at Library and Archives Canada.
Quick Tips for Canadian Genealogy Research
You can listen to our entire conversation for free in episode 199, but here are some quick take-away tips:
Claire Banton obtained her Masters of Library and Information Studies degree in 2006. She has worked in Reference Services at Library and Archives Canada for 10 years, where she has enjoyed learning something new every day. She is currently Chief, Orientation Services, where she works with an awesome team who help people search for information. She loves being an information detective and helping people overcome their research challenges.
2. Start with the LAC website genealogy resources page whether you plan to visit in person or not.
You’ll find loads of free databases and some digitized records that haven’t been indexed yet, but are ripe for browsing. The topics page will tell you more about what is available for Canadian genealogy.
3. Familiarize yourself with the history of border crossings. There was no border control from the US to Canada prior to 1908, so that means there are no Canadian records of earlier crossings. However, there is a database containing an index of aliens and citizens crossing into the U.S. from Canada via various ports of entry along the U.S.-Canadian border between 1895 and 1956 at FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com.
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.
There’s good news and bad news for those searching for Canadian passenger arrival lists. Bad news: You won’t find a lot before 1865 because those lists didn’t generally survive. Good news: You WILL find a lot AFTER 1865–and you’ll find it easily 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. Generally speaking, each manifest gives the name of the ship, its port(s) and date(s) of departure [and arrival in Canada, and] the name, age, sex, profession or occupation, nationality and destination of each passenger aboard.”
The earlier lists aren’t always so detailed. But in some cases, other lists have information about travelers’ health, religion, previous travels to Canada, family members and how much they carried in their wallets.
Start your search in Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 at the Library and Archives Canada website (it’s free!). The city of Quebec, the major arrival port for many years, is covered for nearly that entire time span. 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 and Victoria–as well as U.S. ports for passengers who reported Canada as their final destination.
Every week we blog about new genealogy records online. Which ones might help you find your family history? With whom should you share this good news? New this week: electoral registers for England, Wales and Ireland; British Columbia marriages and deaths; WWI-era absent voter lists for England; Dutch Christian Reformed Church records (US); Iowa prison records and over 46 million Swedish household records!
ENGLAND, WALES AND IRELAND ELECTORAL REGISTERS. A century’s worth of electoral registers for England and Wales (1832-1932) are now searchable for Findmypast subscribers, as are Irish registers for 1885-1886. According to a press release, the England and Wales database is the “largest single collection released on Findmypast to date with over 5.4 million images and approximately 220 million names.” These annual registers fill the gaps between censuses and can help you “discover where your family lived, when they could vote and details of the property your family owned in the 19th & 20th centuries.”
BRITAIN ABSENT VOTERS. The new Britain, Absent Voters Lists 1918-1921 at Findmypast “contains over 20,000 pages listing over 100,000 names of service men, women serving with the auxiliary forces, merchant seamen, diplomats and others…absent from their homes.” Because of the timing of the lists, they include “men who were killed, missing or taken prisoner in the period of time between the compiling of lists and the publication of the register. Records can reveal your ancestors name, a description of their service and their qualifying premises, allowing you to uncover details of the home they left behind and the part they played in one of history’s bloodiest conflicts.”
BRITISH COLUMBIA VITAL RECORDS. FamilySearch has updated its free collections of marriage and death records for British Columbia. Over 300,000 additional deaths are reported for 1872-1932 and 1937. Over 18,000 marriages have been added for the years 1859-1932 and 1937.
DUTCH CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH RECORDS. Vital and membership records ((1856-1970) of the Dutch Christian Reformed Church are now searchable on Ancestry. This church split from the historic Dutch Reformed Church in 1858 in Michigan. Vital records include baptisms, marriages and deaths, and often include dates, places and the names and relationships of family members. Membership records include registers of entire families; information about transfers (moves) to different congregations, addresses, birth and baptismal dates.
IOWA CONVICTS. Convict registers from three Iowa state penitentiaries (1867-1970) are now on Ancestry: the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, established in 1839; the Anamosa State Penitentiary in Anamosa; and the Iowa State Reformatory for Women in Rockwell City.
SWEDISH HOUSEHOLD RECORDS. Over 46 million household records dating 1880-1920 are now searchable at MyHeritage. According to the collection description, “The Household Examination Books are the primary source for researching the lives of individuals and families throughout the Parishes of Sweden, from the late 1600’s until modern times. The books were created and kept by the Swedish Lutheran Church which was tasked with keeping the official records of the Swedish population until 1991.”
Thank you for sharing this list of great new resources with your genealogy buddies and for posting them on your society pages. Let’s spread the news!