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5805RE: Immigrant Train Passengers

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  • Xenia Stanford
    Nov 20, 2009
      Immigrant Train Passengers

      Hi Mabel,


      What you need is called “overland” passenger or traveller lists. Some trains in some periods did keep such records. Louis Rasmussen has published at least two volumes of such lists in his series “Railway passenger lists of overland trains to San Francisco and the West.” Another book is “Overland to California with the Pioneer Line,” although it is not comprised of lists but is a diary in which names and fates of some people are mentioned.


      I am not sure if overland travel in Canada was recorded that much, but certainly for cross-border travel the border crossing lists are the most common way to find travellers whether they travelled by train or other means. Certain conductors did keep lists but few of these lists survive. There is a book called “Overland route through British North America” by Waddington, published in 1868. I am not sure if it contains any names of travellers. Also you have not stated a timeframe for the travellers you have in mind.


      The destination certainly could have been purchased all at once if the person was coming from overseas and proceeding overland immediately upon arrival. These were usually called “inclusive through tickets.” In my grandparents’ effects, I found their “ticket” with the stub removed. The remaining ¾ page document states how they will get from Antwerp to Montreal and then how they will proceed from there. My grandmother said that those from steerage who were traveling inland by train were put overnight in a basement holding room until they were boarded on the train the following day. She said she knew it was “underground” because she could see through the windows at the top of the room (the only source of light) the shoes of passers-by on the street outside. In other words, the complete trip from Antwerp to Alberta was ticketed and paid for prior to their departure.




      From: owner-dist-gen@... [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...] On Behalf Of Mabel Kiessling
      Sent: November 17, 2009 8:34 AM
      To: dist-gen@...
      Subject: Immigrant Train Passengers


      Hello fellow dist-gen members:

      Does anyone know if passenger lists exist for immigrants that took trains from the port of Montreal to their destinations, either in Canada or the U.S.?  Are Border Crossing Records the only way to know?

      Thanks for any help on this question.

      Mabel Kiessling

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