I have determined the arrival in Canada information for my great grandfather. From there I was able to determine the exact ship (SS Montreal arrived May 6, 1905) and the exact date of departure from Antwerp (April 18, 1905).

His name, in most Canadian records was "Fred Chic". His arrival documentation in Canada lists him as "Fed Czuk". We are certain that neither of these was his real name. He was ethnically Ruthenian, and from somewhere in Galicia as part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He spoke, at least, Polish and Russian.

What I am hoping to find is a departure document from that day, for that ship, on the Antwerp side.

Doing this with other Eastern European family members who departed from Hamburg provided definitive, priceless, information about their town of origin. However, with "Fred" I cannot seem to trace him beyond knowing the ship, and the departure date from Antwerp.

Does anyone have any advice on how I might find Belgian passenger records for the SS Montreal, departing Antwerp, April 18, 1905? Again, I have the Canadian side, just hoping to find the Belgian side which might have another version of his name. I have had no luck with the Antwerp police records.

  • Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! I've taken out your signature and thanks because your question is signed by your user card. You say "you have had no luck with the Antwerp police records" but you didn't say what search techniques you used. If you put more information in your question about how you searched, we may be able to suggest different search techniques. Did you try searching by age without a name, use surname variants or wildcards, etc?
    – Jan Murphy
    Feb 12, 2023 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


We've all done it! We've seen the Hamburg passenger lists and asked "Do outbound records exist for the port my passenger sailed from?" Sadly, the answer is mostly "no", so your best chance to find the information you are looking for is to look at the Big Picture and then search for the records you can find.

(Some departure lists do exist, though they aren't as plentiful as arrival lists, so it is a good idea to look for them. If I have a North American arrival list after 1890, I always look for the corresponding outward list from the UK if the ship has gone through one of the ports there, and correlate the information about the passengers contained in the two lists.)

Have you made a list of all the records you have about him from Canada? Have you reviewed those records? Do you understand the purpose of the records, and how they were created?

What you really want is the information about his town of origin. What other records might have that informtion? Did he naturalize after he came to Canada? Did he ever cross the border between Canada and the United States? Did he serve in the military? The FamilySearch Wiki has research guidance on finding immigrant origins and finding records in Canada (see resources at the end of the answer).

Emigration to North America

Records are often created because of laws mandating and governing their creation, and for business purposes such as keeping track of money. We can learn more about the records, and understand the information contained within, by learning about the laws and business practices that caused them to be created.

Passenger lists were created by the steamship companies in part to fulfil obligations to the goverments of the countries where the steamships arrived. These records were usually created in the country of departure before the ship left port (a notable exception is the arrival record for the survivors of the Titanic, which had to be re-created en route by the master of the Carpathia).

Ticket-buyers filled out an intake form with the information asked for by the government. That information was then copied by the clerks in the shipping company offices onto the big passenger manifest sheets we are familiar with. Consider the following points:

  • Information on manifests varies, depending on the time and place, because of the requirements in place at the time. This is why you found different information on the Hamburg outgoing lists and the corresponding arrival list for the same voyage.
  • The person buying the ticket did not see the big passenger manifest after it was created, so could not correct any copying mistakes made by the clerk.
  • If a clerk wrote the information on the intake form, mistakes could happen because the clerk was writing what he heard the ticket-buyer say. Whoever wrote the form, mistakes could happen when a clerk copied information from the intake form to the big manifest form.
  • Passengers may not have been buying their own ticket, so they may not have seen the intake form or had any opportunity to correct mistakes on it.

Let's take a closer look at your great-grandfather's arrival form and see what other clues it can give us.

A few lines above his entry on line 30, there is a grid with a total of immigrants from different countries for that page. Galicia's total for that page is 20. How many passengers from Galicia are on the entire manifest?

Your great-grandfather's destination (dittoed from lines above) is listed as Winnipeg. How many other passengers from Galicia are also going to Winnipeg, on this page, or in the entire manifest?

Many people on the page have a stamp "N. A. T. C. Bonus Allowed". The North Atlantic Trading Company (NATC) was a consortium of booking agents and steamship company officials under contract with the Canadian government to recruit agricultural laborers as immigrants to Canada. The NATC got a bonus (or kickback) for "suitable" immigrants. You may not be able to find records of the NATC or records that mention the individual immigrants, but it might be worth looking at how many immigrants came from Galicia and arrived at the same destination as your great-grandfather. Did any of those immigrants have contact with your great-grandfather after they arrived in Canada? Can you find out more information about their places of origin in Galicia?

You don't mention if your great-grandfather had siblings. Check for records of any siblings, spouses' records, siblings of their spouses, etc. for clues. This is often called FAN research (for friends and extended family, associates and neighbors). If you can't find direct evidence of your great-grandfather's town of origin, you may be able to build a strong case with records from his FAN group.

Check Google Scholar, Google Books, the Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, JSTOR, PERSI, etc. for local histories for your great-grandfather's immigrant community in Canada, and for any research about emigrants from Galicia to his part of Canada. Via Google Scholar, I found a book revised from a dissertation about the German immigrant community for my husband's parents' hometown. Bibliographies in books, dissertations, other academic papers, genealogical journal articles, and local histories can be a treasure trove of pointers to possible leads and sources for further research.


Related questions:

  • 1
    Hi Jan, thank you for all of this and I am going to keep at it, particularly haunting the 1906 Canadian census. The big stumbling block is that he got lost, and didn't leave with his family. He was left behind. He stayed in Antwerp until he had earned (somehow) enough money, at age 16, to follow-to Canada. I haven't been able to find any evidence he ever caught up with his family. I know the anglicized versions of the siblings first names, but not their ages, and not the mother's name (dad had died in Europe). I do suspect he had a NATC flyer with him. Nose to the grindstone for me! Feb 13, 2023 at 0:00
  • 1
    @DarrinWhite You can use the edit link under your question at any time to add information like this to your question. It shows your research effort. You can find more info about how Stack Exchange works in the help center and if you have questions about how the site works, you can ask in our companion Genealogy & Family History Meta. If you find answers helpful, you can upvote them. Note that answers might cover things you've already tried, because we're writing to answer you, and to give help to others with similar questions.
    – Jan Murphy
    Feb 13, 2023 at 1:20
  • @DarrinWhite If you haven't already, take a look at the 'Related Questions' links that Stack Exchange shows you (in the column on the right) for other ideas about finding information from Antwerp. I've also added a note in my answer about the departure lists from England. See the resources list for TNA's research guide.
    – Jan Murphy
    Feb 15, 2023 at 18:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.