Ships and Seafarers

Basic Guide to Researching Nova Scotian Ships and Seafarers

March 2004
The following are important research locations for Nova Scotian marine history research. Depending on your topic some institutions will have more to offer than others.
It should also be noted that many of Nova Scotia's community museums and archives have important marine research related to their local areas. You can locate these community Museums using the Nova Scotia Heritage Directory.

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Library
Over 5000 books relating to merchant ships and shipping, navigation, seamanship, shipwrecks, the Royal and Canadian Navy and many other maritime subjects. Published sources include shipping registers from the late 1700s to date, such as Lloyds, Bureau Veritas, Record of American and Foreign Shipping and Transport Canada's List of Ships; guides to navigation; pamphlets; current and historical periodicals. The Library does not have immigration records or passenger lists.

Ship Information Database
This online database hosted by the Canadian Heritage Information Network is a good first step in searching for a Canadian vessel. While it has some gaps and errors, it helps narrow searches and provides reference to registry information at the Nova Scotia and National Archives.

Nova Scotia Archives
Public Archives of Nova Scotia Building
6016 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 1W4
Phone 902 424 6060
Fax 902 424 0628
Has shipping registers on microfilm and a wide selection of historic newspapers on microfilm as well as extensive genealogical records and some immigration records prior to 1867 along with a large photographic collection related to ships and marine subjects. Also has coroner's records on the Titanic.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
1055 Marginal Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 4P7
Phone 902 425 7770
Holds additional information on topics of migration, nautical history, waves of immigration to Canada, ethnic groups and genealogy. It has immigration records from 1925-1935 on microfilm and staff has access to arrival and departure sources going back to 1865.

National Archives
Library & Archives of Canada
395 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ont.
Fax: 613-995-6274
Voice: 613 992 3884
Photo Order Faxes: 613-995-6274
The primary repository for all naval, government shipping and immigration records since 1867.

Maritime Command Museum
Admiralty House
CFB Halifax
Phone 427 0550 Extension 8250
Has a reference library and a large collection of naval photographs and plans.

Dalhousie University Archives
Killam Memorial Library
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
V3H 4H8
902 494 6490
Has Lloyds captain's registers as well as indexes to Canadian masters and mates. The library also has microfilmed copies of the New York Maritime Register which lists shipping movements world wide as well as Department of Marine Annual reports documenting shipwrecks and lighthouses since 1867.

Maritime History Archives at the Memorial University of Newfoundland
Maritime History Archives
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, Newfoundland
A1C 5C7
Phone: 709 737 8428
They have a very large collection of Captain's Registers, Crew Lists, Logs and other material for British Empire ships from 1863 to 1938. They charge a $35 minimum fee for searches.