Source Information Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data:

  • Emigration, Original Correspondence, 1817–1857 and 1872–1896. CO 384. War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence. The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Surrey, England.

Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England. The National Archives gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to the National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU.

About Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896

Historical Background

The influx of soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars and economic shifts brought on by the Industrial Revolution left many people in the British Isles in dire circumstances. Emigration rates began rising, and the British government encouraged those leaving to opt for Canada rather than the U.S. through various government-assisted emigration ventures. Legislation helped bring down the cost of traveling to Canada so that it was more affordable than traveling to the U.S., and land grants drove many English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants to seek opportunities in Canada.

The Records

This collection is made up largely of correspondence and dispatches regarding emigration from the British Isles. Some of the documents were collected in chronological bound volumes, with volumes 1 through 99 covering the years 1817–1857 and volumes 100–193 the years 1872–1894. (Correspondence for the years between 1857 and 1872 is not included.) The entry books represent another five volumes consisting of letters and other materials from the Colonial Office and related organizations dealing with emigration.

What You May Find in These Records

While some of the correspondence relates to immigration in general, this database also includes letters from many individuals requesting information and assistance to immigrate to Canada. You may find military service noted, families mentioned, and the socio-economic circumstances of the author. Volume 2 from the entry books contains a list of 757 Scottish settlers who immigrated to Canada. Some material related to Australian immigration may also be included in the collection.

How to Search These Records

This collection is partially indexed. Lists of passengers are included in the index, but much of the correspondence is not. Use timelines to narrow down your immigrant ancestor’s year of arrival, and then browse the years where there may be correspondence. For browsing purposes, check the beginning and end of the volume; some include handwritten indexes.