The following announcement was written by The Generation Network, parent company of Ancestry.ca:
More than 1.6 million names indexed of immigrants who moved across the U.S. border to Canada
(Toronto, ON – April 22, 2009) Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, today launched online the indexed and fully searchable Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935, which contains more than 1.6 million names from border crossing documents captured at almost 200 entry points over a 27-year period.
The release of this collection is of great significance to many Canadians whose ancestors immigrated to Canada through the U.S. in the early 20th century. Border crossing records are the official and only immigration records for those individuals who crossed from the U.S.
Along with the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, which were launched in September 2008 and contain more than 7.2 million names, the Border Crossings: from U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 represent the most comprehensive collection of Canadian immigration records ever assembled online.
Now for the first time Canadians will be able to search for relatives online by first and/or last name, date and port of arrival, date and place of birth, gender and also by keyword.
Movement between the U.S. and Canadian borders wasn’t always as a sophisticated as it is today, with security teams closely monitoring border movement and new immigrants formally declaring their entry to Canada with numerous documents.
Prior to 1908, the Canadian government didn’t keep track of who entered Canada from the U.S. and people could move freely between the borders undetected. However, as movement between the neighboring countries increased, the Canadian government formed the Border Inspection Service and began recording the names of people entering Canada to live permanently.
A variety of factors would have lured people living in the U.S. to Canada; the promise of a better life, potential job opportunities, available land and reuniting with relatives. The period between 1901 and 1911 saw the Canadian population increase by 35 per cent, with immigration being a key growth factor.
Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: “Detailed records were kept of those immigrating to Canada by ship from around the world, but movement from across the large open borders it shared with the U.S. was largely ignored until 1908.These records could provide the missing link for family history researchers looking to find when and where their ancestors came and settled in Canada via the U.S.”
It is important to note, that the Border Inspection Agency did not capture all movement of people across the U.S. and Canadian borders. Some crossed when the ports were closed or where no port existed.
Additionally, many families were not registered because one or both parents had been born in Canada or previously resided here, and they were considered Returning Canadians rather than immigrants.
The records include the passage of people at close to 200 entry points in 13 Canadian provinces and U.S. states, including:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Maine, USA
- Massachusetts, USA
- New York, USA
- Vermont, USA
The Border Crossings: from U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 collection is available through a 14-day Free Trial at Ancestry.ca.