Canada Emigration and Immigration

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

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Home Children[edit | edit source]

Loyalists[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]

Naturalization Records[edit | edit source]

Canada Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

Library and Archives Canada[edit | edit source]

Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N3

Telephone: 613-996-7458
Fax: 613-995-6274

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada[edit | edit source]

Before 1865[edit | edit source]

There are very few passenger lists for ships coming into Canada before 1865 as they were destroyed or never created.

Substitute records have been used to help document individuals coming to Canada during this time but are very incomplete. They include declarations of aliens and other naturalization records, diaries, newspaper articles, and other records indicating immigration to Canada.

The Library and Archives of Canada website has posted an index of some lists that have survived. Other databases containing information suggesting immigration are found in the Online Records section above.

1865 to 1935[edit | edit source]

Passenger lists are available for ports in Canada starting in 1865. Many records are online and can be found in the Online Records section above.

Most immigrants to Canada arrived at the ports of Quebec and Halifax, although many came to New York and then traveled to Canada by way of the Hudson River, Erie Canal, and Great Lakes. A few arrived in Portland, Maine, then traveled overland to Canada. Surviving lists for Quebec date from 1865 and for Halifax from 1881.

After 1935[edit | edit source]

Library and Archives Canada does not hold copies of post-1935 records. Records of immigrants arriving at Canadian land and seaports from January 1, 1936 onwards remain in the custody of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. To request a copy of another person's immigration record, you must mail a signed request to the under-noted office:
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Access to Information and Privacy Division
Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1

  • The request should include the full name at time of entry into Canada, date of birth and year of entry. Additional information is helpful, such as country of birth, port of entry and names of accompanying family members.
  • The application for copies of records should indicate that it is being requested under Access to Information. It must be submitted by a Canadian citizen or an individual residing in Canada. For non-citizens, you can hire a free-lance researcher to make the request on your behalf. The request must be accompanied by a signed consent from the person concerned or proof that he or she has been deceased for 20 years. Please note that IRCC requires proof of death regardless of the person’s year of birth.
  • Fee: $5.00 (by cheque or money order made payable to the Receiver General for Canada)[1]

Finding the Town of Origin in Canada[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Canada, see Canada Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

Canada Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.

Immigration into Canada[edit | edit source]

Most immigrants have settled along the coasts, the southern frontiers, or the St. Lawrence River valley.

1605: The French first settled at Port Royal, near present Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

1608: The city of Quebec was established by the French. For the next 150 years, the British and the French disputed control of the area.

'1749: 'Halifax, Nova Scotia, was founded by the British as a military garrison.

1753: The British government settled more than 1,400 Germans and Swiss at Lunenburg, southwest of Halifax.

1759–1760: British conquest of old Quebec (New France) occurred. The French remained but were joined by many British immigrants.

1760: Eighteen hundred "planters" from Rhode Island and Connecticut settled lands vacated by Acadians in Nova Scotia. A few thousand more New Englanders and Ulster Irish soon followed.

1783–1784: More than 30,000 Loyalist refugees came to Canada as a result of the American Revolution. They settled in the Maritime Provinces, the Eastern Townships section of Quebec, and in the area between the Ottawa and St. Lawrence river valleys, eventually to be called Upper Canada. The Loyalists were soon followed by other Americans coming for land.

1800: Upper Canada (Ontario) had about 35,000 people, including 23,000 Loyalists and "late Loyalists" and their descendants, mainly from upstate New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. They were principally established on farms along the upper St. Lawrence River valley.

1812: Because of the War of 1812, authorities restricted immigration from the United States and encouraged immigration from the British Isles.

1815: After the close of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, many immigrants settled along the St. Lawrence River. Although many immigrants continued on to the United States, soon the "late Loyalists" were joined by many English, Scottish, and Irish settlers.

1815–1850: Greatest immigration was from Scotland and Ireland to Atlantic colonies. A few thousand came each year.

1818: The influx of Protestant Irish to Upper Canada began in earnest.

1830s: The great Irish immigration took place, especially to New Brunswick.

1846–1850s: During the Famine Migration from Ireland, tens of thousands settled farms and towns of Upper and Lower Canada.

1881: A record number of people immigrated; many headed for Manitoba. The best Manitoba farmland was settled by people from Ontario.

1890s: The boom era began in western Canada because much of the best public land in United States had already been homesteaded.

1896–1914: The Canadian government’s aggressive immigration policy encouraged agricultural settlers from Britain, then the United States. Canadian colonization agents at the seaports of Hamburg and Bremen recruited Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Austro-Hungarians.

1900s: The early 1900s were the peak of U.S. immigration to Canada.

1931: The 1931 census showed 1,300,000 U.S.-born residents settled throughout Canada: over 12 percent of the population.

Loyalists[edit | edit source]

Beginning in 1784, large numbers of American Loyalists came from the United States to settle along the St. Lawrence River. Most of the earliest settlers of Upper Canada (Ontario) were natives of the United States. By 1810, eighty percent of the white population of the province was estimated to have been born in the U.S., but only 25 percent of them were Loyalists (who had arrived by 1796) or their descendants. The rest were Americans who had recently come to Canada for land or other economic opportunities. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were listed as states of origin of many of these "late Loyalists," as they were sometimes called.

British Home Children Immigrants 1870-1940[edit | edit source]

Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement.

See Also:

War Brides[edit | edit source]

During World War II, Canadian soldiers began arriving in Britain as early as 1939. For some it would be six years before they returned home. Many of these young men married and fathered children while they were overseas. In all, nearly 48,000 war brides and 22,000 children arrived in Canada during and after World War II. While the vast majority of these women were British, there were some Europeans as well. The ships that had been used to transport the service men and women to Britain returned with their wives and children. The ships carrying the war brides and their children sailed from England to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Pier 21 became the depot for processing the arriving families. In 2000. a memorial plaque was mounted at Pier 21 to commemorate the war brides’ a

Emigration from Canada[edit | edit source]

  • The first large emigration from Canada was between 1755 and 1758 when 6,000 French Acadians were deported from Nova Scotia. Some settled temporarily in other American colonies and in France. Many eventually found permanent homes in Louisiana, where they were called "Cajuns." A few returned to the Maritime Provinces.
  • During the "Michigan Fever"' of the 1830s, large numbers of Canadians streamed westward across the border. About one in four Michigan families finds a direct connection to Ontario.
  • By the late 1840s, over 20,000 Canadians and newly landed foreign immigrants moved to the United States each year. * TheCalifornia Gold Rush attracted many, beginning in 1849.
  • After 1850, the tide of migration still flowed from Canada to the United States. Newly arrived immigrants tended not to stay in Canada very long. Between 1851 and 1951, there were up to 80 emigrants, both natives of Canada and others, who left Canada for every 100 immigrants who arrived. A few immigrants returned to their native lands or went elsewhere, but many eventually went to the United States after brief periods of settlement in Canada.
  • Canadians from the Atlantic Provinces often went to New England. At least two million descendants of French Canadians now live in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Many also live in New York and the Midwestern states.
  • The Canadian government did not keep lists of emigrants. Before 1947, there was no Canadian citizenship separate from British, and Canadians moved freely throughout the British Empire. Before 1895, when the United States government began keeping border-crossing records, Canadians moved to the United States with few restrictions.
  • Most immigrants to Canada arrived at the ports of Quebec and Halifax, although many came to New York and then traveled to Canada by way of the Hudson River, Erie Canal, and Great Lakes. A few arrived in Portland, Maine, then traveled overland to Canada.

Canadian Diaspora[edit | edit source]

The Canadian diaspora is the group of Canadians living outside the borders of Canada. As of a 2010 report by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and The Canadian Expat Association, there were 2.8 million Canadian citizens abroad (plus an unknown number of former citizens and descendants of citizens). In past decades, most Canadians leaving the country have moved to the United States. In the 1980s, Los Angeles had the fourth largest Canadian population of any city in North America, with New York close behind. Other countries and cities have emerged as major sites of Canadian settlement, notably Hong Kong, London, Beirut, Sydney, Paris, and Dubai. The largest Canadian populations abroad by country are:[2]

Country or Territory Canadian citizens
United States 1,062,640
Hong Kong 300,000
France 90,000
United Kingdom 87,000
Lebanon 45,000
United Arab Emirates}} 40,000
Australia 27,289

Records of Canadian Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to Wiki articles about immigration records for major destination countries below. Additional Wiki articles for other destinations can be found at Category:Emigration and Immigration Records.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

There are additional sources listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Immigration Records," at Library and Archives Canada,, accessed 29 June 2021.
  2. "Canadian diaspora", in Wikipedia,, accessed 29 June 2021.