Meal time aboard the "Lake Huron" en route to Canada, 1899.Source
In 1803, the British Parliament enacted legislation to regulate vessels carrying emigrants to North America. The master of vessel was required to prepare a list of passengers and to deposit it at the port of departure. Please note that there are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865. Few such lists have survived.
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the Canadian immigration records for the years 1865 to 1935. The passenger lists are the sole surviving official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada.
The passenger list is a list of immigrants arriving at an official port of entry on a particular ship on a given date. Generally speaking, each manifest gives:
- the name of the ship
- its port(s) and date(s) of departure
- its port(s) and date(s) of arrival in Canada
- the name, age, sex, profession or occupation, nationality and destination of each passenger aboard
In some of the earlier manifests, personal information is omitted for wives, minor children, groups of labourers and first and second class passengers. Depending on the date, some lists contain other information on the immigrants, such as their health, religion, previous visits to Canada, family relationships and cash on hand.
The format of the lists varies over time. Standard forms were used increasingly from the 1870s onward. However, a number of the lists from the 1860s to the 1890s, especially for arrivals from European ports, are of irregular format or are inscribed on United States immigration forms.
After Confederation onwards, immigration offices were maintained at various places called "ports of entry" and were responsible for the official reception and documentation of immigrants. The present formal process for designating ports of entry was not set up until after the First World War. Before that time, the collection of entry records at a particular port, then forwarding them automatically to Ottawa, was likely an informal administrative measure.
The passenger lists were microfilmed by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration during the 1950s and 1960s. The originals were destroyed after the microfilming. As a result, only a microfilm copy of the passenger lists exists as an archival holding. The microfilming of these records was not of consistent quality and not all images are readable.
The microfilm copies of the passenger lists from 1865 to 1935 were transferred to LAC by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in four groups: the 1865-1900 records in 1971, the 1900-1908 records in 1980, the 1908-1918 records in 1984, and the 1919-1935 records in 1997. The 1908-1918 portion contains a few lists dated as late as 1921 at the end of the 1918 reels.
The digitized images found on the LAC website have been made by scanning the microfilms of the passenger lists. As exact copies, a page that was unreadable on microfilm will also be unreadable on your computer screen.
These records are described in the Immigration Branch fonds, formerly Record Group 76 (RG 76).
This database contains 4,835,348 references to names found on passenger lists destined for the following ports:
|Quebec City, Quebec
||1865 to July 13th, 1921
||T-479 to T-493, T-4759 to T-4818, T-14700 to T-14713|
|Halifax, Nova Scotia
||January 1881 to October 2nd, 1922
||C-4511 to C-4519, T-494 to T-503, T-4734 to T-4757, T-14794 to T-14800
|Saint John, New Brunswick
||4th January 1900 to March 29th, 1912
||T-504 to T-508, T-4820 to T-4825
|North Sydney, Nova Scotia
||November 22nd, 1906 to February 28th, 1912
||T-520, T-4836 to T-4838
|Vancouver, British Columbia
||January 4th, 1905 to December 29th, 1912
||T-515 and T-516, T-4851 to T-4853
|Victoria, British Columbia
||April 18th, 1905 to June 6th, 1912
||T-509 to T-512, T-4861 to T-4865
|New York, United States
||January 1906 to March 2nd, 1912
||T-517 to T-519, T-4699 to T-4705
|Eastern United States Ports
||July 5th, 1905 to April 9th, 1912
||T-513 and T-514, T-4689 to T-4691
A nominal card index for the port of Quebec
City from the years 1865 to 1869 was created many years ago by the staff from
the National Archives of Canada, now Library and Archives Canada, from
passenger lists on microfilm. The information contained on those cards was
inputted in this database; the cards contained no references to digitized
All the other entries were produced by Ancestry.ca and FamilySearch.org from digital images of microfilms made in 2006.
These database entries are in their original language. This information was not translated.
Important note: Some of the names were very difficult to read; therefore, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete. When searching, consider using slight variations on the spelling of the name. If the name cannot be found, only search the ship's name or the year.
The search screen enables you to search by:
- Given Names (s)
- Year of Arrival
- Date of Arrival
When you have entered your search terms, click on "Search". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.
How to interpret the search 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
- Given Name(s)
Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.
The item page has digitized images of the actual pages available in JPG format and contains the following fields:
- Given Name(s)
- Port of Arrival
- Date of Arrival
- Year of Arrival
- Microfilm Reel Number
- Item Number
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.
References from May 1, 1865 to November 15, 1869 are not linked to images. To view the corresponding images, please consult the Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 database. On the search screen, enter the name of the ship and the date of arrival.
You can also search by name or browse through the images on our partner websites:
Ancestry (subscription required; free at many public libraries)
FamilySearch Scroll down to Browse to search by port, year, month and ship.
Consult Access the Records for other options such as consulting immigration records on microfilms. Please do not submit copy requests because we do not provide copies of immigration records that are already digitized online.
Some of the original documents are difficult to read. Therefore, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete. Please note that LAC does not provide transcription and translation services. Contact your local genealogical society for assistance.
LAC gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Ancestry.ca without which this project would not have been possible.