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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian:Immigration Records by Patricia McGregor, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
LI-RA-MA Consular Records
There were three Russian Consuls operating in Canada from 1900-1918. At the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917 they were:
- Serge Likachev in Montreal
- Constantine Ragosine in Vancouver
- Harry Mathers in Halifax
There were also seven consuls in the United States. After the Revolution, the Canadian and American governments took control of the files and records held by the consuls, and until about 1980 they were all stored in the U.S. Once the records were microfilmed they were made available to researchers. The Canadian records consist of fifty-five reels of microfilm plus an index and have come to be known as the LI-RA-MA collection based on the first two letters of each man’s last name. The U.S. collection is called “Russian Consular Records”.
The LI-RA-MA microfilm reels are held by Library and Archives Canada and are available in the self-serve section microfilm area. The information contained in these films includes appointment books, passport applications, birth certificates, completed questionnaires and various letters. These consular offices provided support to Russian subjects in Canada for the Czarist Empire. Remember that at that time this empire covered far more territory than did the later Soviet Union. As a result you will find files and records for Russians and also for people from the Baltic States, the Ukraine, Finland, Byelorussia, Georgia, Poland and Armenia. There is an alphabetical index to about 11,000 nominal files known as Passport/Identity Papers on LAC microfilms H-1971 to H-1975. In many cases these Identity Papers also include photographs.
|For the LI-RA-MA: One word of warning and a caution, most of the documents are in Russian. Find someone who can translate for you, and be prepared to search all possible spelling variations of the surname.|
LI-RA-MA Examples Kaplan, Mousha (Morris) Leibov. LI-RA-MA Consular Records. MG 30 E 406, Series IV, Vol. 43. Library and Archives Canada. Microfilm M-7626.
Kondratiuk, Vasilii Ivanovich. LI-RA-MA Consular Rrecords, MG 30 E 406 Series IV. Vol.42. Library and Archives Canada, Microfilm M-7626.
There is a good explanation of the records on the LAC website plus a finding aid to identify the appropriate microfilm.
Dave Obee in his book, Destination Canada, a guide to 20th century immigration records, includes a nominal guide to the records (p. 65)—that is to say, he identifies the first and last surname for each microfilm.
National Registration File 1940
Following the start of WWII, the Canadian government passed legislation which required the registration of all persons aged 16 and over. Registration was required between 1940 and 1946. These records are not available to researchers but application can be made for a search of the records by Statistics Canada personnel. The cost of the search is $45.00 plus GST (2007), cheque made payable to Statistics Canada. If you are requesting information on someone other than yourself you must provide proof that the individual has been deceased for at least twenty years. Proof of death can be a death certificate, or if that is not available a newspaper obituary clearly showing date of death.
If you are stuck, this file may provide helpful information such as:
- Date of birth
- Marital status
- Country of birth
- Year of naturalization
- Year of immigration
- War time status
- Previous military service
|If a person died between 1940 and 1946, their questionnaire was destroyed. For more information, consult the Library and Archives Canada website.|
Records of the Immigration Branch (RG 76)
Library and Archives Canada holds 583 reels of microfilm containing immigration records up to the 1950s. RG 76 is the records of the Central Registry of the Immigration Branch of the Department of the Interior. Included in this collection are deputy ministers’ files, operational records from immigration agencies, extracts from passenger lists and information on home children and post war refugees. The files are sorted by topic or by group of people. Dave Obee’s book, previously mentioned, contains a valuable finding aid for what is contained on the various films (pp. 36-54). Here are just a few examples from that list:
- C-10256 - Catholic Immigrant Aid Society of Western Canada 1928-1930
- C-7373 - North Atlantic Trading Company - Continental Arrivals at Ocean Ports 1902-1945
- C-10446 - Poland - Immigration from 1942-1945
These files are more difficult to search as there is no nominal index. But for those who are interested in rounding out the family history with other historical information, the painstaking search may uncover some genealogical gems. Obee states (p. 35) that copies of these microfilms were distributed to the various provincial archives in the 1980s.
Immigrants from China
As a result of the decisions by various Canadian governments to impose or increase the head tax on Chinese immigrants, a number of records were created and have survived. Library and Archives Canada holds records of Chinese immigrants from 1885-1949. The records include age, place of birth, date and port of arrival in Canada and the head tax paid. Mr. Obee’s book contains a finding aid for the eight reels of microfilm (p. 66).
Library and Archives Canada also holds a vast number of paper files pertaining to immigration. These files must be accessed on site and usually must be requested in advance as they are stored in a facility in Hull, Quebec. Similar to the RG 76 microfilm series, it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack but the rewards are often worth it. The films include records from the Secretary of State (RG 6), the Governor General’s Office (RG 7) and Justice (RG 13) to mention only a few. A search of the Archives holdings for “Immigration” yielded over36,000 hits. Follow the steps below to try it out:
a) Go to the Library and Archives Canada website.
b) Click on Search Only: Archives.
c) Enter Immigration in the search box.
d) Click on Submit and explore some of the hits.
Here are some examples:
- RG 6 Series A-1, vol. 43, file 946: Proposed German Immigration re: beet root sugar, 1881
- A beet root sugar company formed in Quebec proposed to the government a programme to attract German agriculturalists to assist in the development of the industry. Several letters are contained in the file. The programme was turned down as the German government was not interested in encouraging emigration at that time.
- RG 6 Series A-1, vol. 6, file 245: Intercolonial Railway Commissioners Minutes on the Subject of Immigration, 1869
- “The Intercolonial Railway Commissioners think it their duty to call the very earnest attention of the Government to the important question of providing the labour necessary for the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, and, in connection with it, the adoption of measures for obtaining the ultimate settlement of a large part of the country through which the Intercolonial line will pass. ...
- The Commissioners therefore suggest that arrangements be made to invite emigration to Canada, such invitation to hold out a prospect of profitable employment in the construction of the Intercolonial Railway during the next three or four years, and, as a further inducement, that arrangements be made with the Local Governments to grant to every man who shall faithfully and continuously work upon the line for a period of, say two years, from 50 to 100 acres of the ungranted lands of the different provinces.”
- The request was turned down as the Privy Council did not have jurisdiction over the local governments regarding the granting of settlement lands.
- RG 13 Justice Series A-2, vol. 149, file 1907-1485: Contracts entered into by Women’s Immigration Aid Society 1907. The Society was formed for the promotion of immigration of female domestic servants to Canada. A corresponding society was established in London, England.
- RG 7 Governor General’s Office, Series G-26, vol. 116, file 2085-D-1: Baltic Immigration 1946-49
- RG 13 Justice Series A-2, vol. 28, file 1923-1358:
Regarding a Ukrainian party brought from Cuba via New York. The immigrants complained that they were outrageously imposed upon and taken advantage of. File contains a declaration by one of the immigrants, Tarrash Schomiakowski regarding payment made to the Roumanian consul. File notes decision to amend a section of the Immigration Act to allow for prosecution of unscrupulous individuals.
Immigrant Ancestors Project – Brigham Young University
The Immigrant Ancestors Project is an interesting project sponsored by the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University. Researchers are using emigration registers to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants. A searchable database has been created which will eventually contain information on millions of immigrants. By investigating surviving documents in the European countries of origin, they are hoping to find additional information on those who came to the Americas—information that is not available in port arrival documents.
This is a work in progress with many sub projects currently underway including: Germany, France, Spain, Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), Ireland, Portugal and Italy. As participation expands, the intention is to include many more countries. The following website will take you to the project’s homepage. Be sure to check out the ‘Projects’ and ‘What’s New’ tabs. You can even volunteer to assist if something piques your interest.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Immigration Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
- This page was last modified on 10 May 2013, at 18:55.
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