As a Canadian with French ancestry who is married to another Canadian with American, Welsh, British and Swedish ancestry, hundreds of our ancestors immigrated by ship through sea ports on the North American continent.
The new database of over 7.2 million names made available for the first time by Ancestry.ca, Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, is indexed and searchable by name, date, ship and port of origin. There are over 300,000 images and historical records. The originals of these records are held by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
It is estimated that about 37 per cent of Canada’s current population have ancestors included in this collection, but records for business people, historical figures, travellers and crew members can also be found.
Passenger lists from all major ports of North America recording the immigration of people from other cultures and countries including The collection includes the British, Scottish, Irish, Swedish, French,Ukrainian, Russian, German, Chinese and Polish, although the majority of French immigrants arrived prior to 1865. The collection also contains records of ships whose voyage ended in tragedy, never making it to North American shores. One of these was RMS The Empress of Ireland, which, while sailing in thick fog on the St. Lawrence River on May 29, 1914, was rammed and sank, lives of 1,012 crew and passengers, greater losses than those of even the Titanic.
Most European immigrants sailed first to Great Britain to transfer to ocean going ships at ports like London, Liverpool or Glasgow. Those European immigrants traveling to Western Canada first landed at an east coast port and continued across the continent by train or other means of land transport.
Immigrants from Honolulu, Asian or Australia usually arrived at a west coast port.
The individual records contain personal identifying information of passengers and crew, including names, birth and in some cases death dates, arrival dates, arrival and departure ports, ships’ names and commanders.