Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Canadian census index on Ancestry now virtually complete

They appeared online overnight, even before the launch event in Toronto! Most Canadian genealogists will rejoice at the release of virtually complete census indexes for 1861, and 1871. They're image linked so you get to see the original, and make your own interpretation of the handwriting.

The whole suite of major Canadian censuses, not including the special situation of Newfoundland, from 1851 to 1916 is now available at making for convenient one stop searching.

The following information on these new additions is drawn from the Ancestry description.

For both 1861 and 1871 Ancestry is using an every-name index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Images are reproduced from microfilm of Library and Archives Canada.

The 1861 Census of Canada is a collection of five provincial censuses taken at different times of the year in the different provinces:
New Brunswick, nominally taken on
August 15th, 1861
Nova Scotia, nominally March 30th, 1861
Prince Edward Island, taken on or before June 15th, 1861
Canada East (Lower Canada, or roughly southern Quebec), and Canada West (Upper Canada, or roughly southern Ontario) taken on
Sunday, January 13th, 1861

Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island only recorded the names of the heads of households, while New Brunswick, Canada East and Canada West recorded the names of everyone in the household.

Missing records for the Ontario (Upper Canada) townships of South Dumfries, Oakland, Tuscarora, and Onondaga, and the village of Paris in Brant County. These records will be added in a future update.

The 1871 census, the first after Confederation in 1867, includes the four original provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. The census date was April 2nd, 1871.

Currently missing is LAC microfilm roll number C-10389 covering the following sub-districts in the district of Northumberland (no. 184) in New Brunswick: c-1 (Northesk, from schedule 4) to c-3 (Northesk); d-1 to d-2 (Ludlow); e-1 to e-2 (Blissfield); f-1 to f-2 (Blackville); g (Derby); h-1 to h-2 (Nelson); i-1 to i-3 (Chatham, to schedule 7).

Ancestry have also added an image linked index to the 1881 census to complete the set. Previously a reasonably complete transcription of 1881 has been available through

The 1881 census, nominally for April 4th, 1881, includes seven provinces - British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec – and the Northwest Territories, which at the time consisted of modern-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Ontario, northern Quebec, Labrador, Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories.

For every census index the immediate question is, how good is it? One would suspect that as these were compiled by volunteers using the Familysearch online indexing protocol there is a good chance people with local knowledge did the indexing. I know from personal experience that in the few of these records I indexed I went to some pains to cross check with the old head of household index for Ontario for 1871.

I made a quick check, thanks to an advance peek at these additions (thank you Ancestry) looking at the first names recorded for people with last name Wiggins. That's an insignificant sample but indicates the index is credible if not perfect. I found names Catherine indexed as Catherinr, Catherin and Cathrine, not unreasonable if you typed what you saw. I'd hoped alternatives with a standardized spelling would also be provided.

What's the quid pro quo with Familysearch is for allowing Ancestry to use their indexes which were produced by volunteers? There must be something as Familysearch would surely understand volunteers screaming if their unpaid efforts were just being used to benefit Ancestry's owners and subscribers.

Although most will rejoice at this new facility the joy will be muted for societies and others that have sold their own transcripts of these census records, and will now see another segment of that market virtually dry up.


Anonymous said...

South Dumfries and Paris were not the only sections of Canada West omitted from the 1861 census.
In Toronto, St Lawrence's and St Patrick's Wards are missing, and St Andrew's is far from complete.
Ancestry says they have 8390 images for Toronto, but there are two images for each folio plus administrative pages from the microfilms. The total number of folios should actually be 8220.

kewbird said...

All of Cooksville is missing from the 1851 census for Toronto Township as well

DWP said...

As a supplment to these Ancestry indexes, the indexes at
are still worth seeing.