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ARCHIVED - LAC Forum on Canadian Democracy

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

LAC Collection on Politics and Government


This stamp was issued to commemorate the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act (1947)


This stamp was issued to commemorate the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act (1947)

Library and Archives Canada collects and preserves a variety of records relating to Canada's multicultural population, immigration, the process of becoming a Canadian citizen, Canadian rights and freedoms, and the groups and individuals who take an active interest in defining and developing the Canadian state.

Published and Digitized Resources about Citizenship

Archival Collection about Citizenship

Naturalization, Immigration, and Citizenship

Included in the records of the Registrar General are some of the early records related to the naturalization process. LAC also has early naturalization registers in records of the Provincial Registrar of Upper Canada and Canada West.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration was created in 1950 and inherited the records of several federal offices carrying out social and cultural functions prior to that time. The records in this fonds are those specific to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Records for functions that were subsequently transferred to other departments may be found in other record groups.

The Department of Employment and Immigration was established in 1966 and ceased to operate in 1993. At that time, its immigration functions were transferred to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The earliest immigration records are found in this group.

The Immigration Appeal Board, formally created in 1956, became an independent body in 1967 and was responsible for making decisions related to immigration. The Immigration and Refugee Board was created in 1988 from the merger of the Immigration Appeal Board (IAB) and Refugee Status Advisory Committee (RSAC).

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada was created in 1993 and is responsible for administering the Immigration and Citizenship Acts and developing policy in these areas. Note: This fonds is in development.

Many photographs of immigrants to Canada are identified generally at the fonds level. For additional photographs of new immigrants and Canadians from diverse backgrounds see:


From 1868 to 1993, the Department of the Secretary of State was the department concerned with civic and cultural affairs.

The Secretary of State also administers a regional operations program from Regional Offices located across the country. The program oversees granting and educational programs and provides information and services to fulfill the Department's mandate of fostering a sense of belonging to Canada. See the following records series:

Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Human Rights Commission was created in 1977 to promote understanding of the Canadian Human Rights Act, provide a means of resolving complaints, and conduct research on issues in human rights.

The Ministry of State for Social Development existed from 1980-1984 and was charged with formulating and developing "new and comprehensive policies in relation to the activities of the Government of Canada that affect the welfare of the individual and social development."

Political Activism

Library and Archives Canada collects and preserves a variety of records relating to political organizations and individual Canadian activists, for example:

Published and Digitized Resources about Citizenship

Published Materials

As a national catalogue, AMICUS not only shows the published materials held at Library and Archives Canada but also those located in over 1300 libraries across Canada. AMICUS contains over 30 million records for books, magazines, newspapers, government documents, theses, sound recordings, maps, electronic texts, as well as items in braille and large print.

Using the Advanced Search option in AMICUS and selecting "Publication Type", you can limit your search to "Government publications – Federal/national" or "Government publications – State, prov., terr. etc." You can also narrow your search by language and date, as well as format. Specifying "Web documents" in the latter will limit the search to full-text electronic publications.

Here are some sample Subject Keyword searches:

  • Citizenship – Canada
  • Immigrants – Canada
  • Canada – Emigration and immigration – Government policy
  • Naturalization – Canada
  • Multiculturalism – Canada
  • Minorities – Canada
  • Civil rights – Canada
  • Human rights – Canada
  • Political parties – Canada
  • Liberal Party of Canada
  • Conservative Party of Canada
  • New Democratic Party
  • Bloc Québécois
  • Campaign literature – Canada

Census of 1851 (Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia)
The database on which this research tool is based contains 2459 records. Each record consists of the following fields: Province or Colony, District Name, District Number, Sub-district Name or Description, Sub-district Number, Reference, and Microfilm Reel Number.

Census of Canada, 1901
The 1901 Census offers a rich source of information about Canada and Canadians at the turn of the 20th Century. Through this research tool you can access digitized images of the original census returns, which record age, nationality, religion, profession, income, education, etc for every single resident of Canada on 31 March 1901.

Census of Canada, 1911
Conducted under the provisions of the Census and Statistics Act (1905), the Fifth General Census of Canada began on 01 June and collected information related to each inhabitant of the country, including place of habitation, marital status, age, place of birth, religion, occupation, education, etc. The Census of Canada 1911 covered the nine provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and two territories (the Yukon and the Northwest Territories) that were then part of Confederation.

Census of Ontario, 1871
This database contains the names of the heads of households in the Province of Ontario as they were recorded in April 1871 in the official enumeration of the population of Canada. The census returns record personal information such as name, age, country or province of birth, occupation, ethnic origin and religious denomination.

Census Microfilm Reels from 1666 to 1901
This database combines our two published catalogues of census returns on microfilm into an on-line version. It allows researchers to identify relevant microfilm reel numbers for census returns they wish to search. The Online Help screens provide information about census records and explain how and where to consult the microfilm.

Census of the Northwest Provinces, 1906
Through this research tool you can access digitized images of original census returns, which recorded the names of family members, their sex, marital status, year of immigration to Canada, post office address, etc.

Citizenship Registration Records for the Montreal Circuit Court (1851-1945)
Before 1947, foreigners could petition for naturalization. Library and Archives Canada holds the citizenship registration records for the Montreal Circuit Court (1851-1945). This research tool contains 8,432 references.

Immigrants from China
The Government of Canada created documents specifically for new arrivals from China. This research tool provides access to 98,361 references to Chinese immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1885 and 1949.

Immigrants at Grosse-Île
This database includes information on 33,026 immigrants whose names appear in surviving records of the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937. Parks Canada provided the data.

Immigration Records (1925-1935)
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds immigration records from 1865 to 1935. The names of immigrants arriving from overseas are recorded in passenger lists. Those arriving from or via the United States are recorded in border entry lists. A series of old nominal indexes exist for the 1925 to 1935 records. In cooperation with LAC, the Pier 21 Society in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has input the information from the passenger list indexes into this database.

Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers (LI-RA-MA) Collection
The Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers collection (LI-RA-MA) contains documents created between 1898 and 1922 by the consular offices of the Russian Empire in Canada. The series on passports and identity papers is comprised of about 11,400 files on Jewish, Ukrainian and Finnish immigrants who came to Canada from the Russian Empire. The series includes passport applications and questionnaires containing general information.

Montreal Emigrant Society Passage Book
This research tool provides access to 1,945 references to people who received aid from the Montreal Emigrant Society between May 12 and November 5, 1832.

Passenger Lists
Passenger lists were the official immigration documents from 1865 to 1935. The lists contain information such as the name, age, country of origin, occupation and destination of each passenger. The lists are organized by port and date of arrival. This database provides access to passenger lists for the ports of Québec (1865-1921), Halifax (1881-1922), Saint John (1900-1912), North Sydney (1906-1912), Vancouver (1905-1912) and Victoria (1905-1912).

Quebec City Passenger Lists Index 1865-1900
Passenger lists (RG 76) were the official Canadian immigration documents. Through this research tool, you can search by name of passengers to access digitized images of original passenger lists for arrivals at Quebec from 1865 to 1900 which list the name, age, country of origin, occupation and destination of each passenger.

Upper Canada and Canada West Naturalization Records
Before 1947, foreigners could petition for naturalization. Library and Archives Canada holds several naturalization registers for Upper Canada/Canada West (now Ontario), for the years 1828 to 1850 only, organized by year within each county. This research tool contains 3,344 references.

Web Exhibitions

The Canadian West
In the period covered by this exhibition -- the years prior to the 1930s -- the population of western Canada increased from less than a hundred thousand to over three million. Such an unprecedented influx was made possible only by drawing on a multitude of ordinary men, women, and children from across Europe. Their arrival on the western frontier dramatically changed the history of western Canada and the ethnic makeup of the country. This exhibition explores several aspects of European arrival and settlement in the Canadian West, and provides a glimpse of those people who helped forge the new society and bring the West into Confederation.

ARCHIVED - The Early Chinese Canadians 1858-1947
This web exhibition explores the social and political history of Canada's early Chinese communities. For this exhibition Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has assembled many resources to offer an overview of the topic, including historical photographs, government documents and letters, head tax records and more.

ARCHIVED - In Quarantine: Life and Death on Grosse Île, 1832-1937
Through a variety of documents preserved and digitized by Library and Archives Canada (LAC), such as lists of births and deaths at sea, hospital registers, journals, letters, photographs and maps, In Quarantine: Life and Death on Grosse Île, 1832-1937 tells the story not only of the quarantine station, but also of the individuals who experienced life on the island.

Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience
This ambitious project was developed with two key goals in mind. The first was to facilitate improved access for genealogists and other researchers to some of LAC's frequently used immigration documents, such as passenger lists and land grants. The second goal was to provide Canadians with a unique history of Canadian immigration for the years 1800-1939.

Further research

Canadian Immigration Since Confederation and the Department of External Affairs (Thematic Guide)
This guide is a brief review of records on immigration to Canada in the Records of the Department of External Affairs (RG 25). These include both the records of the Department proper after its establishment in 1909, and those of predecessor offices in London, England dating back to the 1880s.

Deportation from Canada, 1893-1977 (Thematic Guide)
This guide consists of general and specific references to government sources and a selected bibliography on deportation from Canada in the period 1893-1977.

Grosse-Île Quarantine Station (Thematic Guide)
This guide consists of a history, specific archival references and a selected bibliography relating to Grosse-Île (often spelled ''Grosse Isle" in English) quarantine station. The references include administrative and policy records of the colonial and federal governments and some records created at the station itself. Some of these contain genealogical information on persons who passed through or died at Grosse-Île.

Immigration Instructions: A Chart of Circulars, Directives and Operations Memoranda, 1909-1978 (Thematic Guide)
This is a guide to the ten series of Immigration policy and procedural instructions issued between 1909 and 1978. The circulars and directives were issued to instruct both Immigration Officers and prospective immigrants of Canadian immigration requirements.

Immigration of Farm Labourers to Canada, 1918-1945 (Thematic Guide)
Canadian and British government or government-sanctioned schemes for the admission and assisted passage to Canada of farm labourers (as opposed to farmer-settlers) proliferated in the period between the First World War and the Depression. This guide consists of specific and general archival references relating to this subject, mostly in the Records of the Immigration Branch (RG 76).

Immigration Records - Most Frequently Used (Thematic Guide)
This guide is a brief review of most frequently used government immigration records.

Records on the Immigration of Domestics (Thematic Guide)
This guide consists of general and specific references to government sources as well as a selected bibliography relating to the immigration of non-agricultural domestic servants to Canada after Confederation.