Ships Passenger Lists
Motorized Ship Lantona circa 1906
Motorized Ship RMS Victora Circa 1904
Welcome to the Nanaimo Family History Society (NFHS) Passenger Lists Indexing Project. The manifests of ships arriving at Canadian Ports listing passengers have been preserved on microfilm at Library and Archives Canada.Indexing of passenger arrivals at Quebec Ports (Montreal is included in the Port of Quebec) for the period July 31, 1903 to 1October 13, 1910 has been completed by NFHS members. An additional eight arrivals prior to this period are also included.We finished the indexing project in June of 2013. With other indexes becoming available on-line we made the decision to not index any further manifests. Since the completion of this project the microfilm is stored at the local Nanaimo Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – Family History Centre (LDS FHC) and can be viewed at their centre.
What are the Passenger Lists
The vast majority of persons emigrating to Canada arrived on passenger ships. The list for each passenger ship is usually (but not always) comprised of a front page and as many pages as necessary listing the passengers. The front page listed details of the ship such as its tonnage and master, when and where it left, when it arrived, number of passengers and a certification as to the health of the passengers. It also contained listings of when the inspections started and finished and when the trains left. Earlier listings did not show as many details of the ship and passage and commenced listing the passengers on the front page. The pages listing the passengers were usually broken down into salon passengers (first class), intermediate passengers and steerage. In each class the passengers would frequently be grouped by Returning Canadian, British Settlers, Foreign Settlers and those destined for the U.S. Usually these groupings would be in a rough sort of alphabetical order; however if the ship picked up people at a second port, those people may appear at the end of that group. The shipping line – either an employee at the ticket office or the purser (or someone else on the ship) – would complete the passenger list, filling in most of the columns. Then at the departure port, the Immigration Agent would add details such as the amount of money they were carrying and where and who they were going to. Sometimes details of events that happened afterwards, such as the person leaving the country or being deported, are also noted.
Example Passenger List
The front page and a passenger page from the SS Teutonic arriving at Halifax April 27 1914 are shown below. These are composite images, as more than one print per page must be made in order to get legible results. Clicking on the image will open a larger image. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page after viewing the images.
Who Are Being Indexed
All passengers shown on the ships manifest are being indexed. This includes returning Canadians, tourists, passengers destined for the US and persons whose names have been crossed out. As a result you may see a person more than once as they return to Canada from visits overseas. Persons whose names have been crossed out are annotated as such. They may be shown in a different section of the same ship or they may have never boarded the ship.
Considerations When Viewing the Index
The passengers lists are handwritten and some of the writing was very faint when filmed, so errors can arise when deciphering what was written so check alternative spellings as well. If a letter could not be deciphered, a “?” was put in its place. Surnames whose first letter could not be read are shown under Unknown and Illegible Surnames; otherwise they are grouped alphabetically.Differences in writing the names like “O’Brian”, “O Brian” and “OBrian” will cause them to be sorted into different areas so check all the possibilities. The names were transcribed as they appear on the list. Many compound surnames on the lists are written such that only the final name appears as the surname, for example “Spruyt de Bay” appears under “Bay” so remember to check under both. It would be equally possible for the names to appear under “de Bay” as well.The indexers have found that some names seem to be transposed. The printed manifest sheets do not indicate a particular column for given name and surname. The ship’s purser seems to write names whichever way he prefers. Some ships passenger lists are surnames first, others have the given name first. Unfortunately it seems that the purser forgets which way he is writing the names and if it is not clear to the transcriber which name is what, the name will be transcribed in the order of the majority of the names on that list. Consequently some given names may appear in the surname column. More information on considerations when viewing the passenger lists can be found here.
I found who I am looking for! How can I get copies of the original list?
Library & Archives Canada now has the films available on-line. You then search the film for the specific passenger on the specific ship on the specific date. Alternatively, you may order the microfilm from FamilySearch.org and have it sent to the nearest LDS Family History Centre in order to view the contents.
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