Before 1865 Ships Passenger lists on ships sailing to ports in Canada did not have to be archived. Thus very few have survived. It is a challenging time period to find passenger lists! But there ARE alternate records.
Genealogists can consult shipping agent records, emigration agent ledger books, newspaper extracts and more. The following online projects may be of help in finding an ancestor arriving in Canada before 1865. I've talked about these projects before but this is an updated list which I hope will guide genealogists in the right direction.
* Return of Irish Catholic (Counties Wexford & Carlow) families who Sailed from New Ross to Upper Eastern Canada in 1817
* Alms House Admission Foreigners & Nativity Records with Ships Names 1819 - 1840 (New York City, New York) includes individuals who had sailed into Canada first
* Ships passenger lists for Peter Robinson Settlers sailing 1825 Ireland to Canada (includes passenger lists and surgeon's logs of the sick and dying)
* St. Lawrence Steamboat Co. Passenger Records 1819-1836
* The Hawke Papers, letterbooks of Chief Emigrant Agent Anthony B. Hawke are available at the Archives of Ontario from 1831 to 1892. Search the database 1865 - 1883 The 1831-1865 records are not online but can be consulted at the Ontario Archives
* Passenger Books of J & J Cooke, Shipping Agents with sailings from Londonderry Ireland to Quebec and St. John New Brunswick from 1847 to 1871.
* People from the Fitzwilliam estate in Ireland who settled in Ontario, 1847-1855 Settlement in East half of Ontario
*A Story of Emigration: Southwest Wicklow (Ireland) to Ontario 1840s Settlement in West half of Ontario
* Index of Names of Emigrants from the 1845-1847 Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal
* Records of James Allison, Emigrant Agent at Montreal, 1823-1845
* Emigration Agent Returns of Emigrant Orphans, 1847
* Filling in the Gaps: Partial Ships Passenger Lists 1850-1855 Names of Individuals in the New York Almshouse who arrived in Canada before going on to New York (includes name of ship, date of arrival and more)
* Return of Emigrants Landed at the Port of Kingston Ontario, Canada 1861-1882 gives the final destination of the individuals, their date of arrival at Kingston and more.
* Petworth Immigrants 1832-1837
* Emigrants from England in New York City Almshouse 1818-1830 - 254 names of English immigrants to Canada & USA including the name of the ship they sailed on
* Irish Immigrants at Grosse-Île - 33,026 immigrants whose names appear in surviving records of the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station between 1832 and 1937.
* Saint John New Brunswick Customs House Passenger Lists 1815, 1832, 1833-1834 & 1837-1838 - the only known surviving lists from this time period. Most of the Customs House records were lost in 1877 in the Great Fire of Saint John. Famine lists from 1845-1850 appear also to have been lost.
* Colonial Archives Database contains over 70,000 detailed descriptions of documents in the archival collection mainly of the British and French colonial periods. Search Tip from Lorine: Use French keyword "passagers" to virew the 526 entries re passengers to New France, Louisiana etc. Note that the records are NOT duplicated in both English & French. For eg. "passengers" gives 89 hits only
* Index to Miscellaneous Immigrants to Canada Before 1865 A number of lists have been indexed by name in this database. Many of the records relate to immigrants from the British Isles to Quebec and Ontario, but there are also references to settlers in other provinces. The database also includes other types of records such as declarations of aliens and names of some Irish orphans.