Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Lovell's Canadian Dominion Directory - 1871

Malcolm and Chris Moody at Archive CD Books Canada recently released a CD of this huge directory. As they write on their web site, other than the government's official census this is probably the most exhaustive single source of information on the inhabitants of "The Dominion," and the two closely allied but still independent Provinces of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, in this period.

The original volume was located at the library of the Ottawa Historical Society, at the Bytown Museum, and loaned for scanning.
An enormous book, in excess of 2,500 pages, Malcolm told me it was a challenging scanning job as there is only a small inside margin, and the paper is thin.

With directories, especially early ones, there is always a question of comprehensiveness. Is everyone listed? The Archive CD Books Canada web site attempts to answer that:

"In trying to assure ourselves of the comprehensive coverage of this directory we attempted to discover what Lovell meant by the phrase "and other inhabitants" in the title. Although it can only be a guess there are strong indications to support our interpretation that it is indeed a record of the names of the heads of every dwelling and many of the borders and roomers who were living in the 6 provinces. We based this on the findings of the 1881 & 1891 census which indicates that the average number of people in any inhabited dwelling was about 7 and 6.5 respectively. It seemed reasonable to assume that the 7 person average would also apply in 1871. Since the Directory gives the population for almost every place from villages of 10 inhabitants up to the largest cities it was easy to do random samples of the average number of inhabitants per entry for selected places and as this was usually about 7 it seems to support the conclusion that the listings were mainly one per household. We found this average number of people per entry tended to be smaller for cities and larger for rural settings and were significantly in excess of 7 per entry in some seasonal fishing villages (in Newfoundland for instance)and in some mining communities (in Nova Scotia) where it could be expected that the mining company supplied shanties actually on the mine's property for its workers and their families. An unusual feature of this directory is that women who were widowed or who were heads of household in their own right are listed under their own names. Only the larger cities used house numbers, smaller places just gave the road name and sometimes an indication of a cross street or some other identifying feature, Villages frequently didn't even have (or didn't use) street names. "

I purchased a copy and judge they have done an excellent job - look at a sample for yourself. In order to make it more financially accessible to those who are only interested in one or two provinces individual sections may be purchased as well as the whole book.

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