At 10 o'clock this morning (on Tuesday, September 16, 2008), Josh Hanna — Ancestry.com's Senior Vice-President — announced in Toronto that it has put the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 online at <http://landing.ancestry.ca/intl/canada/passenger/lists.aspx> in both French and English (simply click the language link at the top of the page).
I have been on the site (even though all of my ancestors came to Canada pre-1865) to see what it is all about, and there is 1,441 BARCLAYs who came to Canada and 178 BLADES. (To those who don't know - my father's line is through the surname of BARCLAY, and my mother's name was BLADES - both of them descendent from United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada in 1783 and 1784, respectivly, from the United States.)
The passenger lists covers the provinces and cities of Quebec (Quebec Ports, May 1865-June 1908, June 1919-July 1921, April 1925-November 1935); Montreal (April 1925-November 1935); Halifax, Nova Scotia (1881-October 1922, 1925-1935); North Sydney, Nova Scotia (November 1906, August 1908-August 1922, 1925-1935); Saint John, New Brunswick ( 1900-September 1922, 1925-1935); Vancouver, British Columbia (1905-September 1922, 1925-1935); Victoria, British Columbia and Pacific Ports (April 1905-September 1922, 1925-1935) and some eastern U.S. Ports (July 1905-1919, 1925-1928) and New York City, which covers 1906 to 1921.
When you put the name into the search engine you may get their estimated year of birth, their birth country (although many of the immigrants did not mention their country of birth), date of arrival, name of the vessel, and port of departure. You can then view the image from which the information was taken.
It appears that the partnership that was forged between Ancestry.com and the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in May, 2007 was not adhered to in this instance because nowhere is the LAC mentioned in the Ancestry.com press release.*
But it may be worth checking the LAC site <www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/immigrants> because they have some of the passenger lists onsite, too. They also have the Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience online, and it's worth looking at it because it can give you the background behind immigration.
This past August, Sylvie Tremblay, Chief Project Manager of the Canada Genealogy Centre, said that the LAC has embarked on a three to five year project where they hope to develop a family history site where you will go to get the "story behind the headlines". They will make the connections for you between the databases, and the history in family history, and they are looking towards wikis to do this - so watch for that.
In the meantime, you can look up your ancestor on Ancestry.ca, and decide if you want to spend the money to do a deeper search. Remember, you can also get a 14-day trial at <www.ancestry.ca>.
*The LAC is mentioned in the CNW News Release. It refers to the LAC in that the LAC holds the official records on microfilm.