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Ship Registration Index

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Ship Registration is a title system for the ownership of vessels. It was implemented in the late XVIIIth Century to ensure that ships used for the transportation of goods inside the British Empire were built and managed by British citizens, including those from colonies. This system remains in place at present, but with different objectives. Under the Canada Shipping Act, registration (the documentation of ownership or title) is required for all Canadian commercial vessels, including fishing vessels over fifteen tons and all pleasure vessels, or vessels other than commercial, over twenty tons. The responsibility for registration is vested in the Marine Safety Directorate of Transport Canada.

Shipping registers, found at all Ports of Registry across Canada, are generally large bound ledgers or, later, loose-leaf binders containing a vesselís official registration information.

In 1991, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) undertook to construct a database which combined the information from three finding aids related to registration records, to port records and to a chronological listing of ships lost or sunk. The database was accessible from 1992 through reference services; however, its format is no longer supported. In order to make this information accessible to researchers, LAC has migrated the data to the current web format. The actual database reflects data seized at that time.


The Ship Registration Index Database (SRI) contains more than 78,000 entries of ships registered in ports of Canada between 1787 and 1966. Generally speaking, it provides the following information:

  • the name of the ship
  • year of registration (YYYY-YYYY)
  • type of vessel
  • where the vessel was built (city/town/other; province/state; country)
  • date of construction (YYYY)
  • gross and net tonnage
  • remarks (mainly on the fate of the ship)
  • official number
  • reference information for the physical registers and/or microfilm

The database entries reflect the original language in which data was seized and the information was not translated.

As hand-written physical registers were often difficult to read, the database may contain spelling variations or inaccuracies. In order to avoid such errors, lists of possible entries are provided for:

  • vessel type - HTML or PDF [36 KB]
  • where built (province/state or country) - HTML or PDF [14 KB]
  • port of registry - HTML or PDF [18 KB]

Prior to your search, we suggest you to consult them in order to allow for more precise searching.

Search Screen

The search screen allows you to search by:

Name of Vessel
Year of Registration
Type of Vessel
Port of Registry
Where built (province/state or country)
Official Number:

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain more detailed descriptions.

Results List:

The results list contains the following fields:

Name of vessel
Year of registration
Type of vessel
Port of registry
Where built
Official number

Click on the underlined name of the vessel of interest to you to access the detailed description.

Detailed Description:

The detailed result contains the following information:

Name of Vessel
Year of Registration
Type of Vessel
Port of Registry
Where built
Date of Construction (YYYY)
Net Tonnage
Official Number
Reference Record Group
Complementary References (may point to content Microfilm Reel, Old Volume or Volume)

Use the following link for options such as borrowing microfilm.

Consulting and Borrowing Material