Passenger Lists & Immigration Records & Home Children

Getting Started

This guide was reviewed August 2014.

Ship passenger lists contain useful information such as a person's age, country of birth, last place of residence, and occupation. However, there are no comprehensive lists of names of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865. A few surviving early lists are at Library and Archives Canada.  Research on specific groups or settlements may also provide further information on early settlers. For early French immigration to Quebec/Acadia, consult TPL’s French Canadian and Acadian Genealogy Research Guide.

To obtain records for passenger lists after 1935, please follow these instructions from Library and Archives Canada website.

Searching the Library Website

Suggested Keywords

If you need information about ships' names, schedules etc. try the following:

Suggested Titles:


Arrivals in Canada:

→More  passenger lists

→More  home children

→More  registers of immigrants

Arrivals in North America

→More passenger lists

→More registers of immigrants

Departures from England

→More passenger lists

Departures from Ireland

→More passenger lists   

Departures from Scotland

→More on emigration and immigration



Using Online Resources

Recommended websites:

One Step Webpages (Steve Morse)
The Ships List

Recommended Databases: Passenger Lists by Date

Ancestry Library Edition (available in any Toronto Public Library branch)

  • 1817-1896 Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists (British Colonial Office records)
  • 1819-1838 St. Lawrence Steamboat Company Passenger Lists
  • 1865-1935 Ships' Passenger Lists
  • 1895-1956 Border Crossings: Canada to US
  • 1908-1935 Border Crossings: US to Canada
  • 1919-1924 Immigration Form 30A – Ocean Entries

Library and Archives Canada

Archives of Ontario

St. Andrew's Society (Montreal) Register of Emigrants

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

In Library Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Toronto Reference Library has an extensive collection of microfilmed passenger lists to official Canadian ports. Some records are available for eastern US ports including New York.

If your ancestor was a juvenile or came over with a sponsoring agent like Dr. Barnardo, check the finding aid Home Children and Juvenile Immigration, or the description of the records at Library and Archives Canada. The Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Toronto Reference Library has the following microfilm reels:

  • Central Registry Files Index – Soundex Index of Children's Names, 1892-1932
  • Central Registry Files – Listed by Organization, 1873-1950
  • Juvenile Inspection Lists – Chronological 1874-1939
  • Inspection Reports – Alphabetical List 1913-1932

If your ancestor came over in early 20th century as a domestic or farm labourer, consult the binder "Supplementary Immigration and Passenger List Information" for details on the microfilm reels available. This same binder includes information on the microfilm reels on Deportation from Canada 1893–1977.

Toronto Public Library contacts:

Answerline: 416-393-7131
[email protected]

Toronto Reference Library, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, 416-393-7175