Let's elebrate! This huge collection, over 88 million entries from Canadian voters lists between 1935 and 1980, is now available on Ancestry. It's by far and away the largest Canada-wide database so far, a major resource for finding people living here more recently than the 1911 (or 1916 for the Prairies) census
Included are 15 elections, 15 voters lists, between 14 October 1935 and 18 February 1980. The wartime referendum on 27 April 1942 has no list included.
The lists gives you voter's name, address and occupation (before 1979). The original images have registered voters in a household listed together so you see adult family members. Remember that women had the vote on a equal basis to men throughout this period, although you do find them listed with their husband's name - as Mrs John Smith. The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 starting with the 1972 election.
Lists for all but the last two elections for the period, in 1979 and 1980, have been indexed by Ancestry by an optical character recognition technique. You can also browse them, and the other two, from files of images by parliamentary riding.
Here's some basic information on coverage, the first three columns are from Elections Canada at http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=his&document=appx&lang=e, the last column from Ancestry.
|Entries in Ancestry database|
|October 14, 1935||10,367,063||5,918,207||4,412,068|
|March 26, 1940||10,429,169||6,588,888||4,978,971|
|April 27, 1942||11,494,627||6,502,234||(referendum)|
|June 11, 1945||11,494,627||6,952,445||5,318,978|
|June 27, 1949||11,823,649||7,893,629||6,306,269|
|August 10, 1953||14,003,704||8,401,691||5,889,453|
|June 10, 1957||16,073,970||8,902,125||7,241,080|
|March 31, 1958||16,073,970||9,131,200||5,961,477|
|June 18, 1962||18,238,247||9,700,325||6,605,162|
|April 8, 1963||18,238,247||9,910,757||7,521,803|
|November 8, 1965||18,238,247||10,274,904||7,774,464|
|June 25, 1968||20,014,880||10,860,888||8,282,839|
|October 30, 1972||21,568,311||13,000,778||9,474,815|
|July 8, 1974||21,568,311||13,620,353||9,111,902|
|May 22, 1979||22,992,604||15,233,653|
|February 18, 1980||22,992,604||15,890,416|
There are a total of 121,156,190 entries on the lists indexed; Ancestry includes 88,879,281 entries, that's about 73% of the electors.
For people I thought should be indexed a search often found less than all expected occurrences. Sometimes it was easy to work around this, such as when a man's last name was not properly transcribed but his wife's was. One letter was mis-transcribed in his.
Two of three members of the George Northwood family were found by the OCR in 1940, but none in 1945, 1949, or 1953. George and his wife are in 1957 but not 1958. He died in 1959. That's about a 50% success rate in finding that Northwood family in those OCRd records.
George's brother James, who lived in Ottawa, is not in 1935, is in 1940, not in 1945, is in 1949, not in 1957, is in 1958 and 1962, not in 1963, 1965. He is not indexed in 1968 but his wife is and he's in the image version. He died in 1972. Again that's about a 50% OCR success rate.
Of interest to some will be that if you're looking for former colleagues you may be able to find them by searching on occupation. I found many searching for meteorologist.
If you do decide to try a manual search be aware that the file for one parliamentary riding can be long and the geographical organization difficult to discern. In looking for myself in 1979 I found no original voter list but lists of people added late, and some pages indicating nobody had been added - a bit annoying when you have to wait for that page to download. It would be helpful if thumbnails could be shown to save that time.
This is the largest Canadian collection on Ancestry with indexing for 15 elections between 1935 to 1974. About 74% of the possible electors are indexed, that's over 88 million entries. Using a fairly distinctive surname about half of the people I expected to be indexed were easily found. Although you're unlikely to find accurate OCR for all occurrences of a person of interest you should easily find some of them.
Don't forget that city directories are another valuable source for this time period.