Wednesday, 6 January 2016

January 1916 Military Census in Toronto

Casting around for information on the death of Murray Gladstone Thomson, see the other blog post today, my curiosity was aroused by this article published in the Ottawa Journal 100 years ago. The word census is bait for any genealogist!
It describes an initiative by the Toronto Police to collect information from places of work for military recruiting purposes.
Having never heard of this I consulted friend and military historian Glenn Wright. On investigation he found it was a local initiative.
The book "Our Glory and Our Grief: Torontonians and the Great War" by Ian Hugh Mclean Miller mentions the census starting on page 87.
Ontario, and Toronto in particular, had responded enthusiastically to the call for volunteers to enlist .
By January 1916 although recruitment in Toronto remained high the demand was higher. News from the front made it evident enlistment would put life in serious danger.
Apparently less than 30 per cent of the 40,000 census forms the police aimed to distribute were completed, and many employers declined to cooperate.

Nevertheless, Toronto recruiting records were shattered in January 1916.

As far as Glenn Wright was able to determine the military census forms have not survived. Those who successfully enlisted will have a military service file at Library and Archives Canada.

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