In the course of your genealogical research, you will inevitably discover an immigrant ancestor. Knowing when and how that individual arrived in Canada is a major piece of the family puzzle. If you do not know where your ancestor came from or their ethnic origin, immigration records can help you find the answer.
There are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865. Few such lists have survived. If you are looking for an immigrant who came to Canada before 1865, we suggest that you consult the following databases:
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the Canadian immigration records for the years 1865 to 1935. The passenger lists constitute the official immigration records in that period. They include the names of immigrants, visitors, returning Canadians and passengers in transit to the United States.
They are a list of passengers 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
its port(s) and date(s) of arrival in Canada
the name, age, sex, profession or occupation, nationality and destination of each passenger aboard.
In some of the earlier lists, personal information is omitted for wives, minor children, groups of labourers, and first and second class passengers. Depending on the date, some lists contain other information on the immigrants, such as their health, religion, previous visits to Canada, family relationships, and cash on hand.
The format of the lists varies over time. Standard forms were used increasingly from the 1870s onward. However, a number of the lists from the 1860s to the 1890s, especially for arrivals from European ports, are of irregular format, or are inscribed on United States immigration forms.
The passenger lists from 1865 to 1935 were transferred to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) by Citizenship and Immigration Canada between 1971 and 1997. The microfilms were produced by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration during the 1950s and 1960s. The originals were destroyed after the microfilming.
For more information, consult Passenger Lists. A detailed description of the immigration records held at LAC is available on the Genealogy and Family History website under Immigration and Citizenship and Ships' Passenger Manifests.
The database provides access to 967,017 references to names of passengers appearing on lists for the City of Québec port from May 1st, 1865 to April 24th, 1900 held at Library and Archives Canada.
The index for the years 1865 to 1869 was created many years ago by staff members by consulting the passenger lists on microfilm. The 1870-1900 portion was created by Ancestry.ca from digital images of the microfilms done in 2006.
The database entries reflect the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.
Important note: Given that some of the names are very difficult to read, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete. In your search, consider using slight variations on the spelling of the name. If you don't find the name that you are looking for, we suggest that you do a search only by ship's name or by year.
This database does not include arrivals at other ports. Those lists have been digitized but are not searchable by name of passengers. Consult our Passenger Lists 1865-1922 database.
The lists for the years 1925 to 1935 have not been digitized, but a nominal index is available that provides full references and microfilm reel numbers. Consult our Immigration records 1925-1935 database.
For the years 1919 to 1924, see also the Form 30A records.
Errors and corrections can be reported to the Genealogy and Family History by writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The search screen allows you to search by:
Given Names (s)
Name of Ship
Year of Arrival
Date of Arrival
If you know the exact year or date of arrival, try a search using this date.
If you do not know the approximate year of your ancestor's arrival, we suggest you search other records for clues:
The 1901, 1906 and 1911 Census returns indicate the year of arrival for immigrants.
Land Records are helpful; immigrants often applied for land shortly after their arrival.
The annual City Directories can provide information. For example, if an individual's name first appears in the directory in 1900, it is possible that he or she arrived in 1899.
Death Records sometimes indicate the number of years the individual resided in Canada.
The National Registration of 1940 indicates the arrival year of immigrants.
When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.
Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain more detailed descriptions.
The results list contains the following fields:
Name (surname and given name (s))
Year of Arrival
You can export the results to a portable storage device or to your computer.
Click on the underlined name of the person of interest to you to access the detailed description.
The detailed description contains the following fields:
Date of Arrival (yyyy/mm/dd)
Port of Arrival
You can view the corresponding page by clicking on "View Image".
Please note that the references from May 1st, 1865 to November 15th, 1869 are not linked to images. To view the corresponding images, please consult our Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 database. On the search screen, enter the name of the ship and the date of arrival.
You can print the images or save the images on your own computer.
To print a copy of a scanned image, right click on the image, select copy, then paste to your word processing software, using the Edit: Paste Special Feature: Device Independent Bitmap.
Use the following link for other options such as borrowing microfilm.
Other archival immigration records exist. Consult Immigration and Citizenship for more information about these records.
Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca) without which this project would not have been possible.