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What to Search: Topics

Immigration and Citizenship

Passenger Lists before 1865

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There are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865. Few such lists have survived.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

A few passenger lists and other records relating to immigrants can be found within various collections.

French Regime

Some passenger lists (MG 1 F5B) (1717-1760 and 1786) exist within French colonial records.

List of destitute emigrants forwarded to Montreal, 1 June 1846. Library and Archives Canada, MG24 B1, vol. 22, p. 690, reel C-15773


List of destitute emigrants
forwarded to Montreal,
1 June 1846.
Library and Archives Canada,
MG24 B1, vol. 22,
p. 690, reel C-15773.

The majority of immigrants came as "engagés." Those men signed "engagements" (contracts) for a three-year period to work in New France for a religious community, a merchant company or a recruitment agent. Many of those "engagés" remained in New France after their contracts ended.

Some references can be found in the ARCHIVED - ColonialArchives database.

Keywords: "liste des passagers" or name and "engagement"

British Regime

Library and Archives Canada holds a number of lists that have been identified and indexed by name in a database, formerly known as our Miscellaneous Immigration Index. Many of the records relate to immigrants from the British Isles to Quebec and Ontario, but there are also references to settlers in other provinces. The database also includes other types of records such as lists of the Irish settlers brought to the Peterborough area of Ontario in the early 1820s, the declarations of aliens for Lower Canada and names of some Irish orphans.

Montreal Emigrant Society Passage Book

Upon their arrival, many poor immigrants had to rely on benevolent societies for assistance when they arrived in North America. The Montreal Emigrant Society was established in 1831. Its main purpose was to provide transportation for immigrants who had arrived at Montreal from Quebec and were destined for settlement in different parts of Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario). Library and Archives Canada holds one register of names of immigrants for the year 1832 from the Montreal Emigrant Society (RG 7 G18). The passage book has been digitized and is available online. The use of this digitized database is facilitated by a name index.

Research in Provincial Sources

  • The Archives of Ontario holds the records of A.B. Hawke, the Chief Emigrant Agent for Upper Canada/Canada West. The Hawke Papers [], formerly known as the Toronto Emigration Office Records, 1831-1892, also include the Kingston office. Part of the Hawke Papers are indexed in the Toronto Emigrant Office Assisted Immigration Registers Database [].
  • The Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management's Commissioner of Public Records Collection includes records relating to black immigration and settlement in Nova Scotia from 1783 to 1839 (Inventory no. 345). Search BosaNova for more details [].

Other Provincial Archives may hold collections relating to immigration.

Research Online

Immigrants at Grosse-Île database (1832-1937)

InGeneas [].

ShipsList []
Extensive collection of passenger list indexes and information about ships, shipping lines, ship wrecks and Irish orphans in 1847.

Immigrants to Canada []
Indexes for some passenger lists and information about ships, immigration handbooks and journals of voyages.

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild []
Network of volunteers who index passenger lists from various countries, including Canada.

Use AVITUS to find other Web sites and online sources about immigration by using keywords such as "passenger" and "immigration."

Research in Published Sources

Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic. There are many books relating to immigration and settlement. Those that include names have been listed.

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