Passenger lists before 1865 – French Regime, 1608 to 1760

If your ancestors arrived in Canada when it was known as New France, this page will give you suggestions about what records exist and how to access them. New France included the colonies in Acadia and Quebec, as well as colonies in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio and Wisconsin. . Some settlers in those areas migrated to Quebec and what later became Ontario.

On this page

Before you start

Gather available information such as:

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

When researching documents from the French regime, it is important to know what type of immigrant your ancestor was. Most immigrants in this period were from France and included:

  • Soldiers
    • To encourage permanent settlements, the French government offered money to married soldiers and officers to put down roots in its colonies.
  • Unmarried women and widows
    • From 1634 to 1662, they were sponsored by the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, and were known as "Les filles et femmes à marier" (marriageable women)
    • From 1663 to 1673, they arrived under the authority of the King, and were known as the "Filles du roi" (Daughters of the King)
  • "Engagés"
    • These men were farm hands, servants, skilled workers or personal assistants. They signed "engagements" (contracts) for a three-year period to work in New France as an indentured servant for:
      • religious communities
      • merchants
      • fur trade companies
      • other employers
    • Many of these "engagés" stayed in New France after their contracts ended.
  • Some immigrants from other countries in Europe

Places to look

1. Archival sources

Library and Archives Canada holds copies of some records from archives in France. Those colonial records include some passenger lists and other records relating to immigrants. The records are in French. To locate these records:

  • 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 in France or New France, plus any or all of these French keywords:
    • passager (passenger)
    • navire (ship)
    • bateau (boat)
    • vaisseau (vessel)
    • engagé or engagement
    • embarque (embark)
    • soldat (soldier)

If you find an item of interest to you in the French Colonial records, the full title of the document is sometimes found in the Scope and content section of the item description.

Here is an example from the Notariat de l'Ile Royale (Louisbourg) series:

Here is an example of records that relate to groups of people:

Fonds des Colonies : passagers (MG1 F5b)

This series contains lists of passengers leaving France for various ports in the colonies in the years 1717 to 1760 and 1786. In the series description, see Scope and Content to learn more (French only). The lists are not searchable by name.

  • Finding Aid 1676 is a detailed list of the contents of the series. It shows the ships, dates, ports, volumes, page numbers and microfilm numbers.
  • FA1676 is only available on paper. You can consult it in the reference room.
  • The microfilm is not digitized and you'll need to view it on site.
2. Published sources

Most records relating to immigrants in the French Regime have already been researched and the information published. To help you with your research, we have compiled a list of these 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, that means 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.

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.

Related resources