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 Tracing Immigrant Origins

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Most of our past discussion has focused on immigration records of the United States. However, there is another British country in North America from which many of us have ancestors -- our country to the north, Canada. Indeed, the approach to tracing the immigrant origins of Canadian ancestors is really identical to U.S. Immigrants. Some sources are less available, while others are more plentiful, but the process and tactics remain the same. Canada, of course, is a foreign country, so you will use the same approach to find Canadian immigrants living in the United States, as you would British, German, Dutch, Italian, Polish or Scandinavian immigrants in the U.S.

There are, however, some slight differences for United States residents who have ancestors from Canada.

Unlike the European countries, and like the United States, Canada was a destination country for millions of immigrants. Many of their descendants in turn immigrated to the United States. Therefore, in effect, when you are tracing an immigrant into Canada, you must realize that within a couple of generations, you will again be looking for the origins of an immigrant -- this time from the country they left before coming to Canada.

In the case of loyalists who left the new United States during and after the Revolutionary War, the "foreign" country you will be tracing them to is the former British colonies, now known as the United States. Then, within a few generations again, you will be faced with tracking an immigrant's origin one more time, generally back to England.

Thus, with Canadian ancestry, your search for an immigrant's home town may occur two or even three times for the same surname!

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