British Columbia Emigration and Immigration
|British Columbia Research Topics|
|British Columbia Background|
|Local Research Resources|
Library and Archives Canada (see the Archives and Libraries section) has British Columbia passenger lists for 1905–1919 for the ports of Vancouver and Victoria. These can be ordered through public libraries on interlibrary loan. These lists are not indexed.
Canadian Border Crossing Records
The United States kept records of people crossing the border from Canada to the United States. These records are called border crossing lists, passenger lists, or manifests. There are two kinds of manifests:
- Manifests of people sailing from Canada to the United States.
- Manifests of people traveling by train from Canada to the United States.
In 1895 Canadian shipping companies agreed to make manifests of passengers traveling to the United States. The Canadian government allowed U.S. immigration officials to inspect those passengers while they were still in Canada. The U.S. immigration officials also inspected train passengers traveling from Canada to the United States. The U.S. officials worked at Canadian seaports and major cities like Québec and Winnipeg. The manifests from every seaport and emigration station in Canada were sent to St. Albans, Vermont.
The Family History Library (see the Archives and Libraries section) has copies of both kinds of manifests. Because the manifests were sent to St. Albans, Vermont, most are grouped under St. Albans District Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory. These manifests are from seaports and railroad stations all over Canada and the northern United States, not just Vermont.
Border Crossing Manifests. Manifests may give the following information about each passenger: name, port or station of entry, date of entry, literacy, last residence, previous visits to the United States, and birthplace. The manifests are available in two series:
Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895–January 1921. (608 rolls; Family History Library films 1561087–499.) Includes records from seaports and railroad stations all over Canada and the northern United States. These manifests provide two types of lists:
- Traditional passenger lists on U.S. immigration forms.
- Monthly lists of passengers crossing the border on trains. These lists are divided by month. In each month, the records are grouped by railroad station. (The stations are listed in alphabetical order.) Under the station heading, the passengers are grouped by railroad company.
Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific Ports, 1929–1949. (25 rolls; Family History Library films 1549387–411) These concern travel to the United States from Canadian Pacific seaports only.
Border Crossing Indexes. In many cases, index cards were the only records kept of the crossings. These cards are indexed in four publications:
- Soundex Index to Canadian Border Entries through the St. Albans, Vermont, District, 1895–1924. (400 rolls; Family History Library films 1472801–3201)
The Soundex is a surname index based on the way a name sounds rather than how it is spelled. Names like Smith and Smyth are filed together.
- Soundex Index to Entries into the St. Albans, Vermont, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1924–1952. (98 rolls; Family History Library films 1570714–811.)
- St. Albans District Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory: Records of Arrivals through Small Ports in Vermont, 1895–1924. (6 rolls; Family History Library films 1430987–92.) The records are arranged first by port and then alphabetically by surname. These are only from Vermont ports of entry: Alburg, Beecher Falls, Canaan, Highgate Springs, Island Pond, Norton, Richford, St. Albans, and Swanton.
- Detroit District Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory: Arrivals at Detroit, Michigan, 1906–1954. (117 rolls; Family History Library films 1490449–565.) These are for Michigan ports of entry: Bay City, Detroit, Port Huron, and Sault Ste. Marie.
Newspapers often published lists of passengers arriving, or sometimes leaving, British Columbia ports. For the period 1858 to 1910, for instance, search the British Colonist newspaper (published at Victoria, BC, Canada) online.
Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records by Dave Obee (Victoria, 2010).
Researching Canadian Immigration Records by Patricia McGregor (Ontario, Canada: Heritage Productions, 2010).