This guide is a brief review of most frequently used government immigration records.
This guide was created in April 1985 and was revised in November 2002.
Records of the Department of Immigration (RG 76)
The Department of Immigration kept a collection of many records from different government departments who, over the years, have all been responsible for immigration to Canada.
Central Registry Files (Series 1) to 1949
Consists of vols. 1-712, microfilm reels:
Contains records on all aspects of immigration up to the Second World War, with some material dating to 1970. Includes subject files, personnel files and a few case files.
File titles in this series can be searched in our ARCHIVED - Government of Canada Files database.
Central Registry Files (500 and 5000 Series) after 1949
Consists of vols. 676 and 677, 689-692 and 743-930, as well as new accessions.
Includes information on all aspects of immigration after the Second World War (except for personnel and case files).
In many instances, these records are subject to Access to Information and Privacy legislation.
Case Files (except Chinese Case Files)
Consists of vols. 676 and 677 and 715-726, as well as accs. 1981-82/198 and 1983-84/038. These are selected files on individual immigrants to Canada. There are relatively few open case files, as Access to Information and Privacy legislation apply in most instances.
Passenger Lists and Border Entry Records
Consists of approximately 1200 microfilm reels.
These are ships' passenger lists (1865-1935) and lists of immigrants arriving across the Canada-U.S. border (1908-1935). Descriptions of the records and lists of reel numbers are available on our web site under Genealogy: Immigration Records. That section also includes information about how to access post-1935 immigration records still in the custody of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Chinese Immigration Records
The case files lists are restricted. For details, consult reference archivist.
Records of the Department of Agriculture (RG 17)
These contain records on immigration and quarantine between 1867 and 1893, although many of the most useful records have been transferred to the Central Registry series in RG 76.
Records of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration (RG 26)
These are records of the department responsible for immigration between 1949 and 1966.
Includes mainly general and policy files, and statistics on immigration; researchers should refer to vols. 63-131 and 153-173 for policy records. In addition, vols. 172 and 173 consist of case files.
Records of the Immigration Appeal Board (RG 82)
The Board was established in 1967 to hear appeals against deportation orders. Library and Archives Canada has only a sample of case files, chosen to illustrate procedure and legal precedents.
Records of the Immigration Refugee Board (RG 158)
The Board was established in 1988 to replace the Immigration Appeal Board. To date, few records have been transferred from this institution to Library and Archives Canada. For details, consult reference archivist.
In addition to the above, researchers might find the following Web sites of use in conducting research on immigration themes:
Citizenship and Immigration Canada - www.cic.gc.ca/english/index.html
Immigration and Refugee Board - www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/index_e.htm
Canadian Immigration Historical Society - http://cihs.ncf.ca/
Pier 21 Society - www.pier21.ca/