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Crossing the Canadian Border at Detroit

With such a long border between the United States and Canada, some 3,987 miles just with the lower 48 states, there are several official locations that people can cross to visit or immigrate into the country. One of the major places to cross is at the Port of Detroit in Michigan coming from Ontario province into the United States. Other nearby entry ports were Sault St. Marie and Port Huron.

When an individual enters the United States information was gathered on each person and kept as a permanent manifest in a card file system. Available on the site in digital format are the card manifest files (some 851,363 arrivals) of people who entered in those ports in and near Detroit from Ontario from 1906 to 1954.

This alphabetical manifest card lists can prove to be very invaluable to a researcher who believes an ancestor may have lived in Canada and later migrated into the Detroit area. The data found on most (not all) of the cards include the person’s full name, sex, last permanent address, age, citizenship, occupation, the name and address of a local Detroit friend or relative plus the ship’s name and date they arrived.

This database can be browsed using the name ranges provided such as ‘A to Anderson, Wilhelmina’, then ‘Anderson, William to Bacon, Erma’. Now there can be quite a few images in each set or block of names. Looking at ‘Jonie, Frank to  Kangas, Helma Sivia’ there are some 6,648 images.  You can select which number plate to view, so if you are looking for the surname of Kain, it would be in the higher numbers such as #6,600. Each will take a few moments to load but you can then make each image full screen with the button on the left. Also you can zoom in on a card to clearly read the typed or handwritten information. A reminder, as with any document, there can be variant spellings of the given and / or surname. Incorrect information could come from the person entering or mistakes made by those gathering the information.

You can do a regular search with where anything relating to the person (census, marriage, death records) would be shown.  If there is a record with the Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Individuals Entering Through the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954, it will be listed.  However, the image of the manifest does not always appear on that listing, but going to the browser listing, you know you can locate it then.

The sample manifest card above is of Mamie Joy who entered Detroit on October 5, 1912 from Ashville, Canada. She had first entered in 1907.  Besides a personal description of her appearance, also included was her sister’s and father’s names and how much money she had in hand.

Truly a wealth of information on that one official document.

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