18 September 2008

Canada Passenger Records: Finding Zayde

When Ancestry made its Border Crossings (from Canada into the US) database available, a long search finally pulled up my great-grandfather's record.

Aaron Peretz Talalai (to become Aaron Tollin in Newark, NJ) was finally found, albeit under Aaron Tallarlay. It seems that he picked up some sort of a Cockney accent after a few months in London, and thus an "r" got in there somehow. I knew it was Zayde as I have seen some 30 variants of this simple phonetic name TALALAY/I.

In fact, I almost gave up looking when I said, "OK, just one more page!" And there he was! Moral: Don't give up, always look at an extra page or two or 20!

Viewing the original image confirmed what I knew. He was 31, from Russia, Hebrew, born in Moliv (today Mogilev, Belarus) and was going to Newark, New Jersey to join his mother's sister Dora and her husband Mendl Konviser. He arrived in Quebec on November 4, 1904 on the vessel Canada and, on November 18, came by train (the Dominion Railroad) down to New York City.

We knew he was going to organize things for the impending arrival of my great-grandmother Riva Bank Talalay, their son Leib (Louis), 2, and daughter Chaya Feige (Bertha), 5 months.

When the Canadian passengers immigration list became available on Ancestry just a few days ago, I ran to find Zayde in this new database. After four hours, nothing...nothing...and more nothing. Finally, I found several passengers who were also on the Canada and clicked on each in turn. The duds were Aron Henrick, Aron Hanark, Aron Bary and Aron Berg.

However, when I clicked on Aron Semanowitz, I hit gold. Scanning the page - image 7, line 37 - revealed my Zayde on the line under the other Aron. So here was TILLARLAI Aron, which I immediately saw wasn't much different from the Border Crossing misspelling of TALLARLAY. Unfortunately - after doing a truncated happy dance - I realized there was very little information, which was a bit disappointing. There had been much more complete information on the Border Crossing manifest.

I then checked the database for TALLARLAY, TELLARLAY and the other 30 variations of the name previously found in many sources. Nothing came up in the search. When I "refined" my search, I now put in Aron Tillarlai and waited expectantly for .... nothing. No hits, zilch. Did that initial T look like an S? .... Nothing there either. An L? No.

Fortunately, I found Zayde but he doesn't seem to be in the index, so I couldn't post a comment/correction that Aron Tillarlai is really Aron Talalai.

By the way, I also found our TALALAY branch which had settled in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, across from Detroit. That was a nice present as well.

I have queried Ancestry about my missing Zayde, and I'll report back when I hear something.

In case you missed the announcement of this new release, you still have 11 more days of free access to search the new database. Good luck!

Here's an official press release:

Ancestry.ca launches Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935

TORONTO, Sept. 16 /CNW/ - In a world first, Ancestry.ca, Canada's leading family history website, today launched online the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, which contains more than 7.2 million names, including 5.6 million of those who travelled from around the world to start a new life in Canada.

The collection is fully indexed by name, month, year, ship and port of origin and arrival of more than 4,000 ships, and includes original images for more than 310,000 pages of historical records. It is the first time that these records have been indexed and made available online.

The Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935, the originals of which are held by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC), are the official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada during this key immigration period.

An estimated 11.6 million Canadians or 37 per cent of its current population have ancestors included in this collection(1), which also includes records for many vacationers and travellers, business people, crew members and historical figures such as foreign leaders, scientists and celebrities.

The collection includes passenger lists from all the major ports of arrival including Halifax, Saint John, North Sydney, Quebec City, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and even east coast ports in the US where many arrived before proceeding directly to Canada overland.

The main immigrant nationalities arriving in Canada during this period of rapid growth were British, Irish, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Chinese and Polish (the majority of French immigrants, the second largest Canadian immigrant population, arrived prior to 1865).

Passengers from mainland Europe usually sailed to Great Britain where they boarded trans-Atlantic ships at ports such as Liverpool, London and Glasgow. Immigrants from Europe destined for western Canada landed at ports on the east coast, then continued their journey by train. Ships arriving on the west coast carried passengers from Asia, Australia and Honolulu.

Contained in the collection are records for a number of ships which tragically never made it to their final Canadian destinations, including that of RMS The Empress of Ireland, a passenger ship which was rammed in dense fog on the St Lawrence River near Quebec on the 29th of May 1914 and sank in just 14 minutes. 1,012 passengers and crew drowned - a larger loss of life than when RMS Titanic sank.

Individual records include information such as the passenger's first and last name, estimated birth year, year of arrival, port of arrival and departure, ship name, occupation, final destination in Canada and other family members listed with their relationship indicated.

Josh Hanna, Senior Vice President of Ancestry, International comments: "This is the first time that these important records have been brought together in one place online, making them accessible to so many; they will be of significance to literally millions of Canadians who want to know when their ancestors first came to Canada and how far they came."

"Due to the internet, family history is a rapidly growing interest among Canadians and Ancestry.ca is proud to play an important role in preserving and making important Canadian historical records accessible online."

Digitizing and indexing the collection took approximately 83,000 man hours, or the equivalent of a person working 24 hours a day, seven days a week for almost 10 years.

In addition to being a treasure trove of information on one's ancestors, enthusiasts can also find names and images of records of some of Canada's and the world's most famous politicians and personalities, as well as the anonymous ancestors of some of today's biggest names. Some came as immigrants and others as visitors.

The Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 will be available to Canada and World Deluxe members and through a 14-day free trial and can be viewed atwww.ancestry.ca/CAPassengerLists.

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