Their loved ones went to Haiti to improve construction standards, to train the local police or because they had adopted a child. For some it was a return from political exile.
For relatives of Canadians missing in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, it was another day of tense waiting. For two families, it was already a time of mourning.
In Ottawa, the RCMP announced that rescuers had recovered the body of Sergeant Mark Gallagher from the rubble of his Port-au-Prince house.
"This is devastating news for Mark's family and for all of us," RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said.
The RCMP were still looking for Superintendent Doug Coates, the senior police officer of the UN mission in Haiti.
Sgt. Gallagher, 50, was a familiar figure in the Maritimes, a former spokesman for the force based in Halifax. Once a member of the Moncton police, he spoke fluent French, which he used as he mentored Haitian constables.
Two other Canadian victims were a Haitian-born couple, married for 43 years, Georges and Mireille Anglade, who twice had to go into exile because of Haiti's turbulent politics.
A fourth victim, Yvonne Martin, a nurse from Central Ontario, was confirmed dead on Wednesday.
The first planeload of Canadians evacuated from Haiti was expected to land in Montreal early this morning in what could be the start of a massive evacuation operation from the quake-torn Caribbean nation.
Federal, Quebec and municipal officials were at Montreal's Trudeau International Airport last night to greet about 100 Canadians whose flight had left Port-au-Prince earlier in the evening.
Half the evacuees - considered urgent cases by Canadian officials - were from Quebec while others came from across Canada. The effort was the largest of its kind since the evacuation of about 14,000 Canadians from Lebanon in the summer of 2006. There are 6,000 Canadians in Haiti.
Mr. Anglade, a geographer and author, was jailed in 1974 under the Duvalier regime. He and his wife built a new life in Canada, where they raised two daughters. He was a founder of the Université du Québec à Montréal. She earned a doctorate in economics.
In 1986, the couple returned to Haiti, where Mr. Anglade served in the cabinet of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but they had to leave again in 1991 because of a military coup.
They eventually returned once more to Haiti and, though retired, were active in their community, daughter Pascale said.
Scores of other Canadians are missing. In Montreal, Stones Jean-Louis interrupted a meeting between politicians and members of the Haitian community hoping that someone could help her get news of her four-year-old daughter, Brandy, who was visiting family when the earthquake struck.
"I can't take it any more," she said, wiping away tears. "My daughter is there and I can't do anything about it."
Two Quebec provincial civil servants, Anne Chabot and Anne Labelle, were also unaccounted for. They were giving computer training to Haitian administrators and were staying at the Hotel Montana, which collapsed.
Tran Trieu Quan was among those missing at the Hotel Montana. The Quebec City engineer was in Port-au-Prince on a World Bank contract to improve the country's building standards, a friend said.
Mr. Quan is well known in Quebec after authorities in his native Vietnam jailed him for three years in the 1990s while he was there on a business trip. He also is a black belt and president of the International Taekwon-Do Federation. Calls of sympathy came from around the world while his family waited to hear from him.
In the Quebec town of Saint-Félicien, the family of Camil Perron also kept vigil. He and his wife, Suzanne, were part of a humanitarian mission and were at a hotel when the quake struck. When the dust settled, Ms. Perron was alive but her husband had disappeared.
They went to Haiti because that was where, two decades ago, they adopted a son.
"They always felt close to Haiti," said the son, Yvon David.
There was some rare good news. An administrator for Médecins sans frontières, Danielle Trépanier of Windsor, Ont., was saved after 24 hours pinned under the remains of a flattened house.
Former Liberal MP Serge Marcil, who worked for a Montreal engineering firm and had gone missing in the collapse of the Hotel Montana, also was rescued.