Jewish Canadians

Find resources for researching the genealogy and family history of Jewish Canadians. This guide includes information relating to various waves of Jewish immigrants to Canada, including:

  • Sephardic Jews who arrived during the colonial period
  • the mass arrival of Ashkenazi Jews from the 1880s to 1919
  • the Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews who came to Canada after their expulsion from Arab and Muslim countries from the 1950s to the 1990s

On this page

Before you start

Gather information such as:

  • name(s)
  • approximate year of birth
  • country of birth
  • approximate year of arrival
  • place of residence in Canada

Places to look

There are several ways to research the genealogy and family history of Jewish Canadians.

Census records

Canadian censuses often recorded the ethnicity of individuals and their place of origin. For example, the 1911 Census recorded ethnic origin and the country or province of birth. Starting with the 1901 census, census enumerators asked people who were not born in Canada to provide their year of immigration.

LAC holds the records for all official Canadian censuses.

You can search for your ancestor by name.

  • Select your census of choice
  • Enter your name term in the Surname and/or Given name(s) fields.

Birth, marriage, death and synagogue records

Provincial and territorial government offices record births, marriages and deaths. These are also known as civil registration records. Those offices regularly transfer older records to the provincial or territorial archives.

Jewish Canadian communities also created their own records, which are held in synagogues. Most older synagogue records are preserved in Jewish archives across Canada, though LAC holds some records, including from:

  • Chesed Shel Emes Chapel, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Congregation Shearith Israel, Montreal, Quebec
  • Holy Blossom Hebrew Congregation, Toronto, Ontario

For dates and other details, see our guide to birth, marriage and death records held at Library and Archives Canada.

Immigration and citizenship records

Immigration and citizenship records often had information about ethnicity and place of birth.

For more information, see:

We hold some other records that might be helpful, including:

  • Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers (LI-RA-MA) Collection (MG30-E406)
    • This collection contains records created by the Imperial Russian Consular offices in Canada, 1898 to 1922. It includes files relating to Jewish immigrants. The Passport and Identity Papers series is digitized and can be searched in Immigrants from the Russian Empire, 1898-1922.
  • Immigration Branch, Central Registry Files (RG76)
    • Jewish Colonization Association, Montreal, 1920-1951 (RG76, volume 82, file 8520, parts 1 to 3, microfilm C-4749)
    • Admission of Jewish children from unoccupied France, 1942-1948 (RG76, volume 477, file 739325, microfilm C-10412 and C-10413)
    • Canadian Jewish Congress, 1947-1953 (RG76, volume 660, file B65714, microfilm C-10595)
    • Admission of Iraqui Jewish refugees from Shanghai, China, 1950 (RG76, volume 674, file C92656, microfilm C-10677)
    • Jewish families for farm settlement, 1938-1940 (RG76, volume 433, file 646525, microfilm C-10313)
    • Federated Jewish Farmers of Ontario, training Jewish boys in agriculture, 1925-1929 (RG76, volume 260, file 209160, microfilm C-7808)
  • Canadian National Committee on Refugees collection, 1934-1948 (MG28-V43)
    • This collection includes case files relating to displaced persons and refugees who settled in Canada. See the collection description for more details.

For more records, go to Collection Search, search inside of Collections and Fonds and try keywords such as Jewish, Jew, or Hebrew. You can also include:

  • a person’s name
  • a place in Canada
  • a country
  • keywords like immigrants, emigrants, refugees

Juvenile inspection reports

Government officials created inspection cards for juvenile immigrants brought to Canada by various organizations. Most of the cards relate to home children from Great Britain. There are cards for some children brought to Canada by the Canadian Jewish War Orphans Committee in 1920 and 1921. These records are:

  • Juvenile Inspection Reports (RG76-C4c)
    • These cards are on digitized microfilm reels on our partner website Héritage:
      • T-15420 A to Cardno, Leslie
      • T-15421 Cardwell, Andrew to Evans, Arthur E.
      • T-15422 Evans, Arthur L. to Henderson, Ann F.
      • T-15423 Henderson, Charles H. to Lock, Annie
      • T-15424 Lock, Herbert to O'Brien, Samuel
      • T-15425 O'Brien, Thomas to Shaw, Victor
      • T-15426 Shaw, Walter A. to Weale, Walter
      • T-15427 Wealls, Eric to Zyczynski, Leon

Community organizations

Jewish philanthropic and aid societies can help. They often have information that can assist you with research on Jewish genealogy. Find out if any of these records are at LAC by using Collection Search and select Collections and fonds. You can try keywords such as Jewish, Jew or Hebrew, plus:

  • community organization
  • aid society
  • family services
  • immigration services

Here are two collections that include information about individuals:

  • Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada collection (MG28-V114)
    • This collection includes case files from the Jewish Immigration Aid Services, Western Division, 1923-1950. See the collection description for more information.
  • Jewish Family Services of the Baron de Hirsch Institute fonds (MG28-V86)
    • This fonds includes a Register of Emigration,1902 to 1906 (volume 15, microfilm C-12913). There are also files relating to children from the Montreal Hebrew Orphans Home and the Refugee Youth Programme. See the fonds description for details and access restrictions.

Historic Jewish communities

During the mid-20th century, there were several attempts to establish Jewish farming colonies on the prairies. This includes locations such as:

  • Hirsch, Saskatchewan
  • Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
  • Pine Ridge, Manitoba
  • Montefiore, Alberta

You may find helpful information by searching by these settlement names or the key term Jewish farming settlement or Jewish farming colony in Collection Search.

Prominent figures

LAC holds records of several prominent figures from different Jewish communities in Canada. Some of these contain important genealogical information. Consider, for example:

  • Arthur Chiel fonds, 1891-1975 (MG31-H66)
    • This fonds Includes histories of Jewish families in Manitoba. See the fonds description for more details.

Community newspapers

There were many Jewish Canadian newspapers that may be useful sources. These documents often contain obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, and major community events. Some also include lists of new immigrants. You can search Aurora to find these publications. Try keywords like Jewish, Jew or Jewry, plus newspaper.

LAC holds some collections of Jewish community newspapers, including:

Published sources

Many Jewish Canadian historical societies and communities have published their own histories. Sometimes they'll have stories that help you better understand your ancestors' experiences. They may also include information about specific people. You can search Aurora to find these publications and genealogy guides and indexes. Try keywords like Jewish, Jew or Jewry, plus:

  • genealogy
  • history
  • biography

We've prepared a list of examples from our Aurora catalogue to give you an idea of the types of books you might find. Each title in this list includes the author and the LAC call number.

  • Click on a title in the list to open the full catalogue entry. If you scroll down, you'll see a list of other libraries that hold copies. You can also check your local library’s online catalogue.
  • If the call number includes the word genealogy, the book is in the genealogy room at our Ottawa location.

Example of a call number: Genealogy Ref. - CS88 A2 A38 2003

Genealogical societies

Local and larger genealogical societies specific to ethno-cultural groups have extensive resources. Internet searches can help you locate these societies.

Try keywords like Jewry, Ashkenazi or Jewish, plus:

  • genealogical society
  • heritage centre
  • a city or province

Search tips

  • Consider larger historical events that shaped Jewish Canadians’ experiences:
    • There have been many waves of Jewish immigrants, beginning in the 1600s
    • During the 1920s and 1930s, Jewish immigration to Canada was heavily restricted and regulated
    • The arrival of Holocaust survivors and Displaced Persons after 1945
    • Internal migration of Jewish Canadians from Quebec to Ontario after 1976
  • Consider neighbourhoods and communities. It was common for Jewish immigrants to settle in the same areas, especially in the Prairie provinces. You may be able to find your ancestors by looking geographically.
  • Spelling was not standardized, and the same names might be written in many different ways.

Access the records

Digitized records

If you find a record of interest, there may be a digital image. Some of these are available through Collection Search. Others, particularly digitized microforms, are available through Héritage.

Records that are not digitized

For records that are not digitized, you will need to see them in person. If you cannot visit us in person, you may want to order copies or hire a researcher.

Related resources

You may be interesting in visiting the Lowy room at our Ottawa location. The Jacob M. Lowy Collection contains old Hebraica and Judaica from four continents. The collection includes genealogy how-to books such as the Avotaynu guide to Jewish genealogy.

There are Jewish archives in Canada that hold synagogue, immigration and other genealogy records. Find links to those archives on our Genealogy links and resources page.