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Over a million Scots who crossed the Atlantic in the last half of the nineteenth and the first third third of the twentieth century, included many who went to Canada, then described as ‘The last, best west’. This description was intended to lure emigrants from the American to the Canadian prairies.
The indexed lists of the four million Britons who emigrated to Canada at this time, Canadian passenger lists 1865 – 1935, have just been placed online. They are indexed by name, year of arrival, port of arrival, departure date and ship name. They include information on the ships, the crews – and the births, deaths and marriages (yes) which took place aboard under the authority of the ships’ captains. The collection details 4,000 ship movements, many from Glasgow which, with Liverpool, was one of the main emigration ports at the time. The Great Depression of the mid-1930s pretty well put a stop to the trend.
As well as the huge help this new online service offers to those tracing their family roots, it carries the names of some emigrant Scots who went o to become very significant to Canada and the rest of the world. There are figures like Alexander Graham Bell who left Edinburgh at the age of 23, bound, with his family, for a farming life in Brantford, Ontario. And there is Falkirk’s Thomas (Tommy) Douglas who moved to Winnipeg with his family in 1910 and became the founder of Canada’s free health service.