If you have Irish Canadian ancestors, I have resources to help jumpstart your genealogy search. If you are searching for your roots in Ireland, here are my top 10 tips for Irish genealogy.

This past Christmas 2022 and early January 2023, I traveled to Kingston and Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada in search of the roots of my Walsh family once living in the middle of Lake Ontario for about 35 years. Wolfe Island is the largest island of the Thousand Islands archipelago, situated in Canada, next to the United States.

During my preparation for traveling to Canada, I assembled a list of resources to help track where my Irish family lived as early as 1842 to about 1877, before migrating to rural Swift County, Minnesota, where I live today.

Tracking Canadian records and my family in the middle of the St. Lawrence River

The route for my Walsh family from County Kilkenny, Ireland, started about 1842 by ship across the Atlantic Ocean to British Northern America, now called Canada. I don't know, and will likely never know, what ship my family traveled on as the enumeration of all passengers was not yet required to Canada.  Their passage was likely on a ship used to transport timber from Canada to Europe, passing through the St. Lawrence River, then on toward Kingston, Ontario.  Wolfe Island is accessible by ferry.

Canadian quarantine station, human ballast


Start searching at FamilySearch.org for genealogy records. This is the site I found marriage records to my Great Great-Grandparents in at the Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario dating back to 1857, and baptism records on Wolfe Island, Ontario. You might be able to search, but will need a free account to view and download documents.

Free resources

You will find numerous non-subscription databases at the National Archives, Washington, DC. Look at the listing for state archives offering free access to paid resources. You might already have access in your city, county, or state as part of public services and resources.

Irish Genealogy Toolkit 

Irish Genealogy Toolkit by Clair Santry, has impressive and comprehensive resources of Canadian immigration resources, view her website.


Ancestry is a very helpful resource for searching for genealogy and requires a paid membership. NOTE:  Check with your local libraries, historical societies, and museums offering free access in your local area.

Canadian Provinces, search by locations

See FamilySearch, select Places within Canada, and see listings by topics. Searching by location is to find detail to a specific location, see search at FamilySearch website, and sign in to search.

Library and Archives Canada

Learn how to begin genealogy search, research by topic and place, research tools, links, and how to get help. Read details at Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

National Archives Ireland

Genealogy services free in person in Dublin and online, census records, resources, glossary, digitized collections and more. Read details at the website of National Archives Ireland.

Nova Scotia Immigrants to 1867, Volume 2

Available for download at Google Books and other resources. View details at FamilySearch.com.

Ontario, Canada Roman Catholic Records

Search records by counties at FamilySearch for church records from 1760 to 1923, view search.

Grosse Isle Quarantine Station

,Quebec, Canada, 1832-1837, search records at Library and Archives Canada.

The New Brunswick Irish Portal

Listing of databases from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Canada, search website

Census Records, Canadian

Canadian Census records at FamilySearch, 1881 to 1901, search collection.

Canadian Census records, 1825 to 1926, search records at Library and Archives Canada.

Canadian Births and Baptism, 1661-1959, search at FamilySearch

Canadian Marriages 1661-1949, search at FamilySearch

Canadian Deaths and Burials, 1664-1955, search at FamilySearch

Passenger Lists

The Ships List, Irish passenger lists from Ireland to Canada, 1823 – 1825, see Peter Robinson Setters from Cork to Canada.

Passenger lists for Port Quebec City and other Canadian Ports, 1865-1922, search records at Library and Archies Canada.

Canadian Passenger Lists, 1881-1922, search at FamilySearch

Immigrant Ships Transcriber Guild, listing of ships dating be the 1700s, search listing

Wolfe Island and Kingston, Ontario

Wolfe Island Historical Society, view website, and learn more this society devoted to the preservation and promotion of Wolfe Island history.

History of Wolfe IslandWolfe Island’s roots date back to 1675 by Floyd Patterson, The Kingston Whig Standard.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Wolfe Island, Ontario Canada – Index to baptisms, 1833 to 1910, see The Island: Sacred Heart baptisms, Wolfe Island website.

Wolfe Island, Frontenac County, Ontario index cemeteries, census records, church records, genealogy, history, land and property, see FamilySearch Catalog, keywords Canada, Ontario, Frontenac.

Church records, Ontario and including Kingston, see Frontenac County, at FamilySearch.

*Jannet L. Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota is a photographer, writer, and educator. She is the author of the forthcoming creative nonfiction quest narrative “Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota,” scheduled for publication in 2023 by Shanti Arts Publishing. Walsh is recipient of a Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Growth Grant funded by the McKnight Foundation, 2022-2024. You can follow Walsh on Facebook and Twitter, and on her other social media channels, with the hashtag #IrishFamilyHistoryDetective. Read more stories at IrishCentral by Jannet L. Walsh.

This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.