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.
In 1803, the British Parliament enacted legislation to regulate vessels carrying emigrants to North America. The master of the vessel was required to prepare a list of passengers and to deposit it at the port of departure. Unfortunately, few such lists have survived and therefore, there are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the Canadian immigration records for the years 1865 to 1935. Those passenger lists are the sole surviving official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada.
For the period before 1865, a number of lists have been identified and indexed by name in this 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 declarations of aliens and names of some Irish orphans.
The database includes documents found within the following fonds:
Andrew Bulger Papers, MG 19 E 5
Colonial Office 217, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, Original Correspondence, MG 11 CO 217
Colonial Office 226, Prince Edward Island, Original Correspondence, MG 11 CO 226
Colonial Office 384, Emigration, Original Correspondence, MG 11 CO 384
Colonial Office 385, Emigration, Entry Books, MG 11 CO 385
Colonial Office 42, Canada, formerly British North America, Original Correspondence, MG 11 CO 42
Department of Agriculture, RG 17
Department of Finance, RG 19 (accounts for payment to teamsters and boat captains for transporting indigent immigrants to inland destinations by wagon or boat)
Emigration records collection, MG 24 I 156
Great Britain: Board of Customs and Excise: Plantation Papers, MG 43 Customs 34
Home Office. HO 102. Scotland: Correspondence and Papers, MG 40 D6 HO 102
Hugh Swayne Papers, MG 24 A 5
Ireland, Emigration from Londonderry, MG 24 I 58
Lower Canada, Provincial Secretary and Registrar, RG 4 B45
MacDonnell of Collachie Papers, MG 24 I 8
Neilson Collection, Records of James Allison, MG 24 B1
Peter Robinson Papers, MG 24 B74
Provincial Secretary's Office, RG 4 C1
Quebec and Lower Canada S Series, RG 4 A1
Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, MG 19 E1
Treasury Board, MG 15 T 47
Upper Canada Land Petitions, RG 1 L3
Upper Canada Sundries, RG 5 A1
Upper Canada: Executive Council, State Submissions, RG 1 E 3
William Farmer and family fonds, MG 24 I 120
William Von Moll Berczy Fonds, MG 23 HII6
Over the coming years, more entries will be added to this database as additional records are identified and indexed.
This research tool provides access to 27,846 references to immigration records held at Library and Archives Canada.
Staff members had originally created a nominal card index to these records. Information from the cards was input into this database. The records were consulted to verify the original indexing.
The content of the database entries reflects the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.
Important note: Given that some of the original documents are very difficult to read, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.
The search screen allows you to search by the name of the immigrant, the year of immigration and keywords. You can enter a surname and/or given name.
Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only.
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 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 of the immigrant)
Year of Immigration
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:
Name (surname and given name)
Year of Immigration
Most of these records are held at Library and Archives Canada and are available on microfilm and may be borrowed for your use by any institution through the interlibrary loan arrangement. If there is no microfilm reel number provided in the reference, the record is not on microfilm and is not available for loan.
Use the following Access link for information about interlibrary loan, ordering copies and other options for accessing records.
Other archival immigration records exist. Consult Immigration and Citizenship for more information about these records.