Immigrants Before 1865

Sailing Ship.
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The Records

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 lists remain today so there are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865.

A number of lists have been identified and indexed by name in this database, formerly known as the 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.

The Database

This database provides access to 27,846 references to immigration records that are held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

Staff members had originally created a nominal card index to these records. Information from these cards was input into this database. The records were consulted in order to verify the names of individuals.

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.

Search Screen

The search screen allows you to search by:

  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Year of Immigration
  • Keyword

Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only.

Once you have entered your search terms, click on 'Submit.' The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search Results Page

The search results page displays the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)
  • Year of Immigration

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item Page

The item page contains the following fields and digitized images of original documents when available:

  • Surname
  • Given Name
  • Age
  • Year of Immigration
  • Additional Information
  • Document Title
  • Fonds Title
  • Volume
  • File
  • List
  • Page
  • Reference
  • Microfilm

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to Obtain Copies

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.

Most of these records are held at LAC and are available on microfilm. If there is no microfilm reel number provided in the reference, the record is not on microfilm.

How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records

Other Resources

Other archival immigration records exist. Consult Genealogy and Family History - Immigration and Citizenship for more information about these records.