Russian families on deck of unidentified passenger ship.

Genealogy and Family History

The first Russians in Canada were fur traders on the west coast in the late1700s and a few officers with the British Navy in Halifax. Emigration from Russia was often restricted throughout the nineteenth century so most people who immigrated to Canada from Russia did so through special arrangement for groups, such as German Mennonites from southern Russia who settled in Saskatchewan.

Between 1899 and 1914, thousands of Doukhobors settled in Canada. Other pre-war immigrants were peasant farmers who came to find work in industries in urban centres. Russian Jews also began to arrive to escape the pogroms and restrictions imposed upon them. Russian communities were established in Montreal (Quebec), Windsor, Toronto and Timmins (Ontario), Vancouver and Victoria (British Columbia) and Winnipeg (Manitoba).

After the First World War, hundreds of thousands of Russians sought admission into Canada as industrial and agricultural labourers, some of them fleeing the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. Russia immigration virtually ceased as a result of the Great Depression and the Second World War. It resumed after the War's completion and between 1948 and 1953 thousands of Russians immigrated to Canada. Many of them were displaced persons who were living in Germany at the end of the War.

After 1953 immigration from Russia dropped, though the Soviet government permitted some Jews to emigrate. By the time of the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. approximate 1,500 Russian Jews had arrived to Canada. There are approximately 500 000 Canadians of Russian descent today. The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia have the largest population of Russian Canadians though sizeable populations can also be found in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. As boundaries in Eastern Europe changed often during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it may also be helpful to consult historical atlases in order to better pinpoint an ancestor's geographic origins in Russia and surrounding countries.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers (LI-RA-MA) collection (MG 30 E406)

Material consists of 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 Russian, Jewish, Ukrainian, Finnish and Polish immigrants who came to Canada from the Russian Empire. The series includes passport applications and questionnaires containing general information.

Russian Consular Records / Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers (LI-RA-MA) Collection

Immigration Branch: Central Registry Files

  • Doukhobors, RG 76, volumes 183 to 184, file 65101, microfilms C-7337 to C-7340. This file contains documentation about Doukhobors in Canada, 1898-1947. It includes some lists of names for the period 1899 to 1902.
  • Moravian Immigration from Russia, 1893-1895. Rev. Andreas Lilge and the Bruderheim settlement, Alberta, RG 76, volume 82, file 8305, microfilms C-4748 and C-4749. The file includes some lists of names.
  • Russian Refugees from the Far East, 1923-1936, RG 76, volume 223, file 111908, microfilms C-7372 and C-7373. The file includes some lists of names.
  • Polish Proposal to Move 50,000 Women and Children From Russia to Canada, 1942-1949, RG 76, volume 476, file 733776, microfilm C-10412. The file includes some lists of names.
  • Russian Passports and the Deportation of Russian Subjects, 1915-1931, RG76, volume 611, file 906924, microfilm C-10433. The file includes lists of names.
  • Mennonites from South Russia, 1921-1946, RG76, volume 196, file 79160, microfilm C-7349 and C-7350. The file includes lists of names.

Other series of Records

Library and Archives Canada also holds other private records regarding Russian families. Consult the Archives Search database using keywords such as a surname or the name of an organization.

Research in Published Sources

Search for other books on Russians in AMICUS, using authors, titles or subject keywords such as:

  • Russian genealogy
  • Russian Canadians
  • Russian Germans
  • Russian Jews
  • Doukhobors Canada

Research at Other Institutions and Online

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