canadian genealogy, canadian census

Canadian Census Tips from Denise Larson

The following post is from author, Denise Larson, who has offered her expertise on other topics such as Maine Genealogy in two parts, as well as the recently posted piece about Canada’s upcoming anniversaries.

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. In this post, Ms. Larson discusses the evolution of the census in Canada as well as some tips for researchers to keep in mind.

Enumeration can be more than general population

From that simple start in 1666, census taking in Canada expanded to Acadia in 1671. Canadian population censuses are either nominal, listing all members of a household, or partly nominal, listing the heads of household. Beginning in 1851, a listing of all family members became standard in Canada.

Some enumerations were very specific to a certain civil or religious group. In 1765 a census was taken of the Protestant inhabitants in the District of Montreal. A year later the merchants of Montreal were enumerated. A census taken in 1779 surveyed the Loyalists who fled the American colonies to the south, settled in the Province of Quebec, and received provisions from the British government to compensate for their losses. This type of census has proven to be very valuable to family historians who traced ancestors to early colonies but abruptly lost the trail during the turmoil of the American Revolution.

Library and Archives Canada offers a list of extant Canadian censuses on its website at http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx. The page lists the years of census returns, a finding aid, and searchable databases.

Not everything is as it appears in Canadian census records

The Library’s Finding Aid Number 300 warns of some pitfalls adherent in Canadian census returns. Users are cautioned that the source of the information written onto a census form might have been a neighbor, not a family member. Even if the information was correct, the spelling skill of the enumerator might be cause for confusion.

The native language of the person taking a census in Canada might be a factor in the correctness of the return. An enumerator whose first language was not French might record “Salway” for Saint Louis, which could have been pronounced something like “san louie” or “san-lou-eh.”

The personal creativity of an enumerator might cause misunderstandings in reading his notes if he used the abbreviation BC, meaning Bas Canada (Lower Canada) if it were misunderstood to be British Columbia and transcribed as such in an index.

The specific age of an enumerated person can sometimes be difficult to determine from a census return. Is the given age how old the person was on the actual date of enumeration (sometimes shown at the top of the page); or how old he or she would be on his or her next birthday; or is the age given as of  the “census day,” the date specified for that particular census on which all information was supposed to be based? Some censuses were started in one year but completed the next, which could throw off a calculation. Researchers should apply a grain of salt to a recorded age and look for proof positive in other sources.

Census taking is not an exact science, but the information recorded by hard working enumerators is a valuable starting point from which to launch a search for firm evidence about family names, ages, occupation, and location on a certain date — the basis used in the Canadian census of 1666 and censuses thereafter.

Image credit: 1911 Canadian Census – Archibald Campbell household, care of Howell Family Genealogy Pages.

 

 

canada

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. Continue reading…

Ascension_of_Our_Lord_Catholic_Parish,_Westmount,_Montreal

Guide to Quebec Catholic Parishes and Published Parish Marriage Records

The “Guide to Quebec Catholic Parishes and Published Parish Marriage Records,” consists of county-by-county lists of parishes within the Province of Quebec. All known Catholic parishes are listed to 1900. Each list gives the names of all the parishes within that county, arranged in order of formation, with the date of the oldest records for that parish. A reference letter and name after the parish indicate the compiler and publisher of a marriage register for that parish, or whether the marriages for that parish may be found in the important Loiselles Marriage Index.

Image credit: Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Parish, Westmount, Montreal, via Wikimedia Commons.

Cost_Northern_Maine_and_New_Brunswick

Genealogist’s Handbook for Upper Saint John Valley Research

The guidebook, “Genealogist’s Handbook for Upper Saint John Valley Research,” teaches genealogists how to find ancestors on both the Maine and New Brunswick sides of the Upper Saint John River Valley, a region that ultimately became home to the indigenous Maliseets, Acadians, French-Canadians, Irish, a few Scots, and a few (mostly English) Loyalists. The extant records of the valley (found in both local and distant archives) extend from 1792 to the 20th century, and, following his historical introduction, Mr. George L. Findlen devotes the bulk of his narrative to an inventory of them. Separate chapters are devoted to each of the following record categories: church registers (probably the most valuable of all records), vital records, marriages, cemetery records, censuses, land records, will and probate documents, newspapers, as well as the various record repositories themselves.

Image credit: The coast of northern Maine and New Brunswick, via Wikimedia Commons.

Lake_Louise_Canada_Banff

Finding Your Canadian Roots

For many U.S. genealogy wayfarers, their journey usually includes a stop in Canada. Surprisingly, this is true for persons with and without French-Canadian roots. Not surprisingly, living along the 3,000-mile border that separates the U.S. from its northern neighbor are innumerable families who share common ancestries as a result of their desire for greater economic, religious, or political freedom–in one country or the other.

Continue reading…