Canada is a nation of immigrants. Research will invariably lead to ancestors who arrived in Canada from elsewhere. The peak period for immigration was in 1913 and 1914, before the First World War brought a sudden end to the movement of people. Canada welcomed about 400,000 a year just before the fighting started, and has never reached that level again.
The best guide to Canadian immigration records is Destination Canada, by Dave Obee.
Note: The Library and Archives Canada website is undergoing a massive change, so some links might not work. We will update as soon as we see an issue!
Library and Archives Canada -- Immigration records|
Starting point for a wide variety of databases.
Library and Archives Canada -- Passenger lists 1865-1922
Library and Archives Canada -- Passenger Lists for the Port of Quebec City and Other Ports, 1865-1922
FamilySearch -- Passenger lists 1881-1922
Ancestry -- Incoming passenger lists 1865-1935
The most comprehensive passenger list collection.
FindMyPast -- Passengers outbound from England, 1890-1960
Cross-reference for your arrivals in Canada, with some years not covered by available passenger lists.
Ancestry -- Border crossings from U.S. to Canada 1908-1935
To search for people entering Canada from the United States.
Ancestry -- Passenger arrivals in the U.K. 1878-1960
This collection includes records of passengers arriving in the British Isles from Canada (and other non-European countries). In the absence of outbound records in Canada, this is a tremendous source for finding people who returned to the British Isles to live or for a visit.
Library and Archives Canada -- Naturalization Records, 1915-1951
Library and Archives Canada -- Immigrants from the Russian Empire, 1898-1922
Library and Archives Canada -- Citizenship Registration Records, 1851-1945 - Montreal Circuit Court
Library and Archives Canada -- Naturalization Records 1828-1850
Covers Upper Canada and Canada West -- now, Ontario.
Library and Archives Canada -- How to order photocopies
The Nanaimo Family History Society -- Passenger List Indexing Project
Volunteers created a remarkable project, indexing Canadian passenger lists from the early 1900s. About 707,000 arrivals at Quebec, from 1904 through 1910, have been indexed.
Library and Archives Canada -- Immigrants before 1865
Library and Archives Canada -- Home Children
Archives of Ontario -- Toronto Emigrant Office
Immigration records database 1865-1883.
Ship Hector Descendants Project
The Ship Hector Descendant Project is designed to research the families of the passengers who arrived on the ship in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773, as well as their descendants, and to connect to present day descendants.
New Brunswick Irish Portal
Includes several immigration collections.
Maritime History Archive
On the site of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Includes crew lists.
Immigration after 1935
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) holds the records of immigrants who arrived from 1936 to the present. To obtain a record, submit an application to IRCC by using one of their forms:
Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request
Application for a Verification of Status (VOS) or Replacement of an Immigration Document
One Hundred Years of Immigration to Canada
On the Statistics Canada website
Searches of the National Registration of 1940
On the Statistics Canada website
The Olive Tree
Historical and genealogical information includes passenger lists. Compiled by the late Lorine Olive McGinnis Schulze Massey.
The Ships List
Provides information on the ships used by our ancestors, as well as 1,800 passenger lists.
Pier 21 - Halifax
A major port on the Atlantic Coast. Pier 21 opened in 1928.
Germans from Russia arrivals
Halifax – 1900-1914
Quebec – 1900-1909 | Quebec – 1909-1914
Saint John – 1900-1909 | Saint John – 1910-1914
Collected by a team led by George Dorscher of Calgary.
Do not forget that some people came to Canada through the United States:
New York City passenger arrivals
1820-1892) | 1892-1924 | 1925-1957
Search the Ellis Island site in one step!
The largest collection of American passenger arrival records.
United States National Archives and Records Administration
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