Passenger lists before 1865 - British Regime, 1760 to 1865

If your ancestor arrived between 1760 and 1865, find out what sources exist and how to access them.

Immigrants in this period included:

  • Loyalists
  • discharged British soldiers
  • settlers from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland
  • some settlers from other countries

Please note that, until 1865, shipping companies didn't have to keep or report their passenger lists to the government. This means there is no comprehensive collection of records for immigrants who came to Canada before 1865.

On this page

Before you start

Gather available information such as:

  • name(s)
  • place of origin
  • approximate year of immigration

Places to look

Here are the major sources for research:

1. Archival sources

You can search many of the records held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) for this period by name in our databases:

LAC holds other records relating to immigrants, such as:

  • immigrant diaries and journals
  • records of immigration societies or organizations, such as Petworth House
  • lists of settlers

To search the rest of the collection:

  • Go to Collection Search and click on Advanced search
  • Select database Collections and fonds
  • In Any of these words, enter a person’s name or the name of a place, plus any of the following keywords:
    • passenger
    • settler
    • emigrant
    • immigrant
    • voyage
    • the name of an immigration society

Some examples include:

J. & J. Cooke fonds (MG40-R-193, microfilm A-2166 to A-2168)

These shipping agents transported emigrants from Ireland to Canada,1847-1867. Read more details in the fonds description.

Molson fonds: St. Lawrence Steamboat Company (MG28-III-57, microfilm M-8272 to M-8285)

The records include some passenger lists for the company’s ships sailing between Montreal and Quebec, 1819 to 1838. Many of the passengers were immigrants. You can find a list of the ships, dates and microfilm numbers on pages 275 to 278 of Finding Aid 1707.

2. Published sources

Most records relating to immigrants in the British Regime have already been researched and the information published in books. To help you with your research, our genealogy staff have compiled a list of books in our Aurora catalogue. These books contain information about individual immigrants and settlers.

Each title in this list includes the author and the LAC call number.

  • 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

You can click on a title in the list to open the full catalogue entry. If you scroll down you will see a list of other libraries that hold copies. You can also check your local library’s online catalogue.

Book list: immigration, British Regime

Book list: German troops in Canada

  • Books relating to German troops who settled in Canada after the American Revolution

Access the records

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.

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