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THIS AND THAT GENEALOGY TIPS ON CANADA



Prior to the War of 1812 there were few requirements for restriction of travel between what is now Canada and what is now the U.S. Especially before the Revolutionary War there were few legal restrictions to travel between the two countries and borders were not strictly defined except where settlements or forts were set up. Usually then if you dared to enter and were not ambushed, you were usually allowed to stay as long as you did not run afoul of the community. Seven of the original colonies did have some degree of "denization" or laws of naturalizing citizens before the Revolutionary War. Most of these are apparently indexed and source of original given in Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index.

In 1790 the first U.S. federal law required a two years residency in the U.S. and one year in the state of application but the states also could provide naturalization under their own terms until 1906 when federal law superceded the state laws in this matter.

In Canada any British subject after 1763 was considered a citizen of the colony and any non-French speaking person was welcomed in Canada especially during the Revolutionary War (1783-84) British loyalists were welcomed from the US. Meanwhile the U.S. accepted many of the deported Acadians during the period of British occupation starting in 1755.

The next major change occurred in the years following the onset of the War of 1812. Canada restricted immigration from the U.S. and vice versa. Loyalists were arrested as traitors if they tried to cross back to the U.S.

The period after 1812 saw a change in the immigration and thus naturalization laws in both countries. Loyalty oaths were required on both sides. On the Canadian side the Loyalists oaths were often filed with the land grant papers as it was a condition of being given the land title.

However, this did not stop many Canadian citizens from streaming into the U.S. in the 1830s-1850s. It started with "Michigan Fever" in 1830s as Canadians and immigrants to Canada looked for greener pastures across the border. After 1849 it was the California "Gold Rush Fever" that caused as many as 80% of the expansion of population through immigration to be lost by emigration to the US. That is for every 100 people arriving in Canada, 80 people left Canada (including new immigrants and those born in Canada) for the U.S. I don't know what the U.S. emigration to Canada was during the same period but some of those returning were the former loyalists who hoped for a moratorium.

Some of records of the Canadian immigration to the U.S. after the 1820s are also found indexed in Filby's or in the Soundex of ship's passenger lists.

It was not until 1895 that the U.S. decided to record immigrants in border-crossing lists. After that emigrants from Canada were required to state names, origin, destination and purpose of travel at the border. These records are documented as St. Albans Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory (i.e. Canada as the Mexican crossings are not in the St. Albans lists).

There are various lists through various ports starting with the main lists from January 1895 to 1915. These are on 937 rolls of microfilm at the FHL of the LDS church. Besides the Soundex index, these rolls include the original manifests which gives all the information recorded by the U.S. officials, such as name, travelling companions, birth date, latest residence, address of person they are travelling to see, next of kin, weight, height, color of eyes. etc.

Prior to 1915 the crossings are for all crossings from Maine to Washington State. These are found on the following rolls of microfilm including the Soundex index: #1472801-#1473200.

After 1915 the St. Albans lists are only for those passing through Vermont-New York Districts.

The 1924-1952 period is found on films #1570714-#1570811.

Another set is the set called The Manifests of Passengers (M1461) - Arriving in the St. Albans District through Canadian Pacific & Atlantic ports. There are both passenger lists and monthly lists of the names of aliens crossing by train. They are found arranged by year, month and then by name of port and railroad.

These are as follows: Jan. 11, 1895 - Jan. 1921 films #1561087-#1561499 and June 1949 #1549387-#1549411. I am missing some film numbers from the FHLC as there are other film numbers for the periods from 1915-1954.

Some of the St. Albans lists films after 1915 do not include the original manifest. The film acts as a Soundex index and the originals can be obtained then from the National Archives (U.S.)

In addition to the St. Albans lists after 1915 some additional records exist for border crossings from Michigan ports of entry. These are called Detroit District Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory. These record the years from 1906 to 1954 and are on films 1490449-1490565. These 117 films include the original manifest and are arranged alphabetically so no Soundex is included.

For those who are interested in border crossing from the U.S. to Canada - there apparently are Canadian records (also on microfilm), but the records are in order by border crossing area (nearest town) & by year. I don't know if these are at the FHL but the Canadian National Archives has them.

Something to keep in mind when using the microfilms from the LDS church and those from the National Archives is that the same film for the same record will have different film numbers - i.e. the LDS has their own sets of numbers and so does the National Archives. The numbers I gave above (except for the M.. may be a Canadian National Archive number) are from the LDS catalog (FHLC).

This does not cover the rules from either country as it applies to other immigrants (i.e. from noncontiguous North American countries). Canada did not restrict entry from any British colony from the time of 1763 to 1947. The U.S. became an exception when it no longer considered itself a British colony and in fact declared war on Britain and, therefore, British territory. However, the modern restrictions of length and type of entry appears to have started in 1895.

An interesting note on the differences between the two countries is that Canada will allow dual citizenship - i.e. you can be or become a Canadian citizen without revoking your citizenship in another country. Even now if you do not want to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen you do not have to as long as you declare you will swear allegiance (even if not sole loyalty) to the country of Canada. However, the U.S. requires you to revoke all loyalty to any sovereign or rule of any other country and swear allegiance only to the U.S. Does this mean the U.S. is more restrictive in whom it allows in the country and for how long? I don't know as I have never tried to cross into Canada from the U.S. as a noncitizen. Other than that simply crossing to visit or shop has not been a problem and can be done by showing a driver's license and birth certificate at the border. No passport required if you are a Canadian citizen and wish to travel to the U.S. and back again.


Until 1763, "Canada" was known as New France and was first used by the French as a source of raw materials...fur, mostly. This economic base was not in favour of settlement as it would cause settlement and competition for the fur traders. New France was conquered by the English in 1763 and present day English Canada evolved from here.

In 1800, the main raw material changed to timber due to Napoleon blocking off England's trade route to the Scandinavian countries. By 1800 Canada's population was still only about 5 000 compared to the Thirteen Colony's one million. The timber trade needed population.

The English were in favor of settlement so offered land grants to anyone who would accept them. These concessions were planned in accordance with the English Township system. In return they were required to clear the land, raise stock and/or begin planting to become self sufficient. Some assistance was given the first year until they were getting established.

Most of Ontario was initially occupied by the Loyalists and poor immigrants from the British Isles who arrived after the American's got their independence from England. In 1840 Canada West (Ontario) had 450, 000 inhabitants, by 1860 the population had exploded to 1, 400, 000.

Ontario has been called Upper Canada and Canada West at different points in our history.
The following may be of some help: http://www.inforamp.net/~griffish/gene/sggene1.html

Ontario, Government of Canada: http://www.calder.net./canada/canada.htm


CANADIAN GENEALOGY MAGAZINE:
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Information about the National Archives of Canada can be found at:
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