Celebrating Canada’s Anniversaries

Editor’s Note: The following post celebrating notable Canadian anniversaries, such as the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, is by Genealogical Publishing Company author Denise Larson. We’ve featured her writing here on the blog before, in such posts as Maine Genealogy Parts I and II, and Genealogy Isn’t Just Finding Dead People.

Ms. Larson’s published work related to Canada includes Companions of Champlain: Founding Families of Quebec, 1608-1635, as well Genealogy at a Glance: French-Canadian Genealogy Research. “Companions” provides readers with a concise historical overview of the founding of Quebec and French-Canadian culture and with the research tools necessary to link their family lines with those of the original 18 pioneer families who inhabited Quebec during the lifetime of the city’s founder, Samuel de Champlain.

Please enjoy the post below by Denise Larson:

Sesquicentennial, Sesquarcentennial, Quadricentennial – All Add Up to Celebrating Canada as a Nation

Next year, in 2017, Canadians all across the continent will be celebrating the sesquicentennial–150th anniversary–of the Confederation of Canada. Under Confederation, “Canada” became the official name of the federal union of the provinces of Ontario (formerly Upper Canada), Quebec (formerly Lower Canada), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The act provided for the union of the four provinces into the Dominion of Canada under the Crown of the United Kingdom. Provisions were made for the admission of the other provinces as well as Rupert’s Land and the Northwest Territories. The British North America Act of 1867 was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain and went into effect July 1 of that year. July 1 is known as Canada Day.

Another notable event will be the quadricentennial–400th anniversary–of the arrival of the first permanent European settlers in Canada, the Hébert family. Louis Hébert was an apothecary, a civil official at the trading post of Quebec, and a friend and aide to Samuel de Champlain. Louis’s wife, Marie Rollet, is considered to be Canada’s first teacher. She instructed her own children and those of American Indians in academics and household skills. The Héberts arrived in 1617 and lived in a stone house built on Cap Diamant by the craftsmen of the post.

A Milestone in Census Enumeration

This year, 2016, marks the sesquarcentennial–350th anniversary–of the first official census taken in Canada. Only 163 pages long and enumerated in part by Intendant Jean Talon himself, the census of 1666 noted the name, age, and occupation of the French inhabitants of Quebec City, Montreal, and Trois Rivieres. The simple, handwritten notebook is quite a contrast to a modern census, which spans a large ledger sheet and tracks a person’s parentage, property holdings, education level, and a myriad of other items.

Not sure how a document as historic as the first census should be cited in a research paper, I pulled out my copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Under her guidance I found the information I needed on Library and Archives Canada’s provenance page for the collection. I was amazed to see that the original of Canada’s first census is held at the Centre des archives d’outre-mer (Overseas Central Archives) in Aix-en-Provence, France. Though I probably will never touch the original record book, I wonder if Louis XIV, who commissioned Intendant Talon to oversee the development of the Canadian settlement, held it in his hands and read through the pages that had been so carefully written by Talon and his assistants. What would the king think about the habitants, craftsmen, and soldiers of Quebec? Musings of this sort are the flights of imagination that can make family history so enthralling.

Image credit: British, Russian and Danish Possessionsin North America, from Colton, G. W., Colton’s Atlas of the World Illustrating Physical and Political Geography, Vol 1, New York, 1855 (First Edition). Via Wikimedia Commons.

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