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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Finding an Ancestor in Ships Passenger Lists to Canada Before 1865

Sharon asked me:
How can I find a passenger ship with German emigrants that settled in Wentworth county from 1852 to 1859 they landed in Quebec I had thought it was the Prince Arthur but my Michael Koch was not listed in the Passenger list with him was his wife Hannah, Charlotte, William Kaul & a baby Joseph.I have tried all kind of resources but so far have no luck.

Olive Tree Answer:Sharon, You've got a very challenging hunt ahead of you. There are no comprehensive lists of immigrants arriving in Canada prior to 1865. Until that year, shipping companies were not required by the government to keep their passenger manifests. So you may not ever find the ship your ancestor came on but there are some avenues of research you may not know about.

It helps me to help you if I know exactly what resources you've checked but I'll go ahead and list the available ones in case you have not tried them.

* There are a few surviving passenger lists which were kept by shipping agents in the originating country. The Passenger Books of J & J Cooke, Shipping Agents gives sailings from Londonderry to Quebec and St. John New Brunswick from 1847 to 1871.(Also to Pennsylvania and New Orleans) These are online and can be freely searched.

* The Hawke Papers, letterbooks of Chief Emigrant Agent Anthony B. Hawke are also available at the Archives of Ontario. They cover the years 1831 to 1892. See the
Hawke Papers searchable database for years 1865 - 1883

* TheShipsList website has Quebec ship arrivals extracted from contemporary newspapers.

You should also check the Ships Passenger Lists to Canada chart for Ships Passenger Lists BEFORE 1865 and Ships Passenger Lists AFTER 1865. It has links to all known online projects with ships passenger lists

One last tip - don't forget that the name you are searching for may be quite different than what you think it should be. Often the name used daily by German ancestors was their middle name, not their formal first baptismal name. But on a ships passenger list, that individual often gave his or her first baptismal name. Also the name you have may be the anglicized name so you will have to find out what the same name is in German. Look for various spellings as well. Remember a clerk might write what he heard (phonetic) and not use what we consider the correct spelling.

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