Monday, October 18, 2021

The Unindexed in Ancestry's Canada Voters Lists

I was recently attempting to figure out when Geoffrey Harold Beley of Smithers, British Columbia, the husband of my 1st cousin twice removed, Marguerite Ann Dakin, had passed away. According to family lore recorded on the Kimberley Keepers site, he had died in 1971. And this is where my still unresolved question started and also led me to an issue with the "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980" collection on Ancestry.

But first some background information on why I ended up looking at the "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980" collection. When looking for someone who died in or before 2000 in British Columbia the starting place to find a death registration is the Genealogy - General Search page from the BC Archives. I searched using various combinations of Geoff's name with no luck. So I turned to the various newspaper archive sites I use to see if I might find him mentioned. On Newspapers.com in their Publisher Extra collection I came across a June 2, 1971 article in The Smithers Interior News with a picture and article about Geoff Beley where he was honoured at a social evening on May 28, 1971 upon his retirement as a Government Agent. I even came across a mention in the December 15, 1971 edition of that same newspaper stating, "Mr. Geoff Beley returned to the coast last week on business." Assuming there is only one Geoff Beley, it would seem that he is still alive then. But after that date he just sort of disappears from the digitized newspapers I've been able to find online.

So I turned to the "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980" collection on Ancestry. I had found him listed in the 1962, 1965, 1968, and 1972 voters lists without any problem but I didn't find him in the 1974 voters lists so I figure he may have died between the end of 1971 and 1974. Since I was already in the collection I decided to also update the profile for his wife Marguerite to include those voters lists as Ancestry sources. That is when I ran into the issue on Ancestry.

It seems like when Ancestry created the indexes for that collection they missed people. 

Ancestry.com, "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980," database and images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Oct 2021), screen capture for Geoffrey Beley of Smithers, 1972, Rural Polling Division No. 119, Telkwa, Electoral District of Skeena, British Columbia, p 1; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980,  R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B), microfilm-6214.
Ancestry.com, "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980," database and images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Oct 2021), screen capture for Geoffrey Beley of Smithers, 1972, Rural Polling Division No. 119, Telkwa, Electoral District of Skeena, British Columbia, p 1; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980,  R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B), microfilm-6214.

Above is a screen capture of the 1972 Voters List for the Electoral District of Skeena, Rural Polling Division No. 119 Telkwa with Geoffrey Beley highlighted. We can plainly see that a Mrs. Marguerite Beley is listed below his name. We can also see a Mrs. Margaret E. Arkinstall listed above Geoffrey's name. But look below in the index section of that page in the virtual microfilm strip. Both of those women are missing! Now Mrs. Vyvyan M. Bradford is included in the index so it wasn't a matter of ignoring women or all names starting with "Mrs.". However, when I looked at that page and the associated index quite a number of the names which start with "Mrs." have been omitted.

I noticed that if I hovered my mouse over the various names, if the name was in the index, the name was highlighted in orange and a pop-out box would appear. We can see that when I hovered over Mrs. Vyvyan Bradford:

Ancestry.com, "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980," database and images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Oct 2021), screen capture for Mrs. Vyvyan Bradford of Telkwa, 1972, Rural Polling Division No. 119, Telkwa, Electoral District of Skeena, British Columbia, p 1; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980,  R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B), microfilm M-6142.
Ancestry.com, "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980," database and images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Oct 2021), screen capture for Mrs. Vyvyan Bradford of Telkwa, 1972, Rural Polling Division No. 119, Telkwa, Electoral District of Skeena, British Columbia, p 1; citing Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980,  R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B), microfilm M-6142.

But it didn't happen when I tried the same with Mrs. Marguerite Beley or Mrs. Margaret Arkinstall. Both of their names remained unhighlighted. And they weren't the only ones on the page missed.

Maybe it was only isolated to the 1972 images. Alas, it wasn't. I checked the 1968 voters list for that same place and although both Geoffery and Margaret Beley were indexed, a few names down I found that Mrs. Lorraine E. Cullis of Telkwa wasn't indexed. And it just isn't women missed. On that same 1968 page Mrs. Lucille C. and David F. Brooks, both of Telkwa, are missing from the index but Robert L. Brooks of Telkwa recorded before them and Vincent S. Brooks of Telkwa record after them are indexed. I also check the 1965 list and also found people in the image not listed in the index. So it seems to be an issue with a number of years.

Why is this a problem for us?

First of all, imagine the indexes for the 1921 census of Canada missing every tenth or twentieth person on the page? How frustrating would that be for your research?

Secondly, it is enough of a challenge to find people when the human or computer OCR generated indexes butcher names, like what happened to "Mis Marrmrey Beley" in the 1968 voters list. Yet it turns into a genealogist's nightmare when names are present in the image but not included in the index. To add to one's aggravation, there doesn't seem to be a way for us, the customer, to add those missing names into the index.

Finally, the voters lists covers the time period after the 1921 census and can act as a census substitute. The voters lists don't work well as a census substitute for those with relatively common names but for someone like Geoffrey Harold Beley and his wife Marguerite these lists can allow you to track people over the years and possibly narrow down when they may have passed away or moved out of the country.

So, if you can't find people in the index for the "Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980" collection on Ancestry, it might not be that they are dead, have moved to another country, or the transcription is horrible. It might be that they were left off the index. So good luck in reading through the images!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Finding on the Ground: Wrap Up

This wraps up, at least for now, what I've been calling my "Finding on the Ground" series of blog posts.

It all started back in March 2020 with what I thought to be a simple question on finding the agricultural schedule of the 1861 census. Little did I know that I would end up digging through various census schedules, delve into the "Land and property" collections on FamilySearch, initially struggle with OnLand, give a workshop, and also speak to several genealogy societies about the challenges of land research in Ontario...all while in the midst of a pandemic.

I've gathered the links to each blog post I've written on this general subject from the past year or so. I may periodically update this post if (probably when) I have additional posts on this subject.

Censuses

Finding on the Ground

Miscellaneous:

It has been a learning experience for me and hopefully the information provided has helped you on your own research journey.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Finding on the Ground: Ordering from OnLand

You've finally figured out where your ancestors resided in Ontario and have actually found the page in the Abstract/Parcel Register Book within the Ontario Land Property Access Portal, AKA OnLand. You've also checked out the Land Record books on FamilySearch for the county in which they resided but those books end before the date of registration of the instrument you are wanting to find. So what's next?

How about ordering the historical instrument from OnLand?

Such was the case when I wanted to get the instrument for when Louis and Lydia A. Darou sold some of their property which was registered on 25 Oct 1913.

Screen capture from OnLand from Lanark LRO(27), Historical Books, Abstract Parcel Register Book, North Elmsley, Concession 8-10, Concession 10, Lot 27, North East Half, image 395 of 465.
Screen capture from OnLand from Lanark LRO(27), Historical Books, Abstract Parcel Register Book, North Elmsley, Concession 8-10, Concession 10, Lot 27, North East Half, image 395 of 465.

I was able to find the bargain and sale (B & S) for instrument 2H-2701 between John Alexander Stewart and Louis and Lydia A. Darou registered on 19 May 1904 by looking through the "North Elmsley Township (v. H, 2505-2796) 1901-1906" within the "Land records of Lanark County, 1802-1921" collection on FamilySearch.

Alas, FamilySearch doesn't have volume I in their collection for me to look up the next instrument 2I-3241. So it was off to make my first purchase from OnLand.

Before starting an order, you can login with for your free OnLand account. Having an account doesn't let you go back through your orders to re-download any electronically sent items but it does at least keep an order history so you know when you have gone over your genealogy budget. The order tracking also doesn't give you a useful description. In the case of the order I'm going to walk though, all the the order history states for the description is "Instrument". Not exactly helpful.

The first step in the ordering process is to select the correct Land Registry Office (LRO). You should already know it since it is the same LRO from where you found the Abstract/Parcel Register Book for the property. In this case, Lanark (LRO 27). Next, since I am wanting a document, I selected "Documents" from the top menu and then "Instruments, Plans and Evidence" from the next display page since I want to get a copy of an instrument.

That brought me to the page which, although seemingly very simple to deal with, causes the most grief for many ordering an instrument from OnLand for the first time. This is the page asking for the registration number.

Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page.
Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page.

You see, the registration number isn't just the instrument number you found in the Abstract/Parcel Register Book. No, that would be too easy. Instead you need to find the correct prefix of the type of document your are requesting.

OnLand does provide a link to the starting page with the prefix codes under the text "correct prefix" in the descriptive paragraph. So let's pop over to that page under the OnLand Help Centre / ServiceOntario Prefixes and Cross-References. Here we find a list of the Land Registry Offices. Scroll to the one we want and click on it. In this case, since I'm wanting instruments from the Lanark LRO I clicked on that link and it displayed the list of the possible documents.

Screen Capture from the OnLand Help Centre ˃ ServiceOntario Prefixes and Cross-References page for Lanark LRO 27 index reference links.
Screen Capture from the OnLand Help Centre ˃ ServiceOntario Prefixes and Cross-References page for Lanark LRO 27 index reference links.

I then selected "Instrument Prefix List: Lanark" (I've circled it above in the image). since I'm looking for the prefix list for the instruments. That action opened up a PDF file with all kinds of codes and dates and even instrument number ranges.

The list can be long and sometimes confusing. Yet we already have the information needed to find the prefix code we are wanting to use:

  • Type of instrument: B & S
  • Date of the instrument: 25 Oct 1913
  • Instrument number: 2I-3241
  • Location: North Elmsley

I wish I could say that there was a standard order for the prefix lists, but there isn't. I took a quasi-random sample from 4 LRO lists and not one was ordered the same way as any of the others. What we need to do is to just look through the list to find something that seem to fit the bill based on the date of the instrument we are hoping to order.

Screen Capture from the Lanark LRO 27 Instrument Prefix List PDF showing North Elmsley prefix codes.
Screen Capture from the Lanark LRO 27 Instrument Prefix List PDF showing North Elmsley prefix codes.

In looking through the list I came across the entries for North Elmsley. Since the date of the instrument I want to get is between Jun 18/1867 and Dec 31/1960 I decided that the prefix code must be "NE". If the registration date of the instrument has been between Jan 25/1856 and Jun 18/1867 then the prefix code would have been NEB. It is really important to pay attention to the dates for when an instrument was registered. If it had been an instrument from the General Register I would have to have looked for those books possibly under the "Miscellaneous" section of the PDF.

I now have the first part of the registration number, "NE". However, the instrument number in the Abstract/Parcel Register Book has this "2I-" before it. We need to toss that part away since it references the volume number and is not needed in this case. Now if we had our hands on the actual Land Record books then we could look up the instrument in the volume "I" books. But we don't so back to OnLand...

In theory, after all that work, the registration number for my request is "NE3241".

Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with Registration Number NE3241 filled in.
Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with Registration Number NE3241 filled in.

However, when I clicked "Search" I got this scary message:

Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with warning that Document NE3241 could not be found.
Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with warning that Document NE3241 could not be found.

Did I do something wrong? Did I mess up the code?

Actually, no. It is just that the instrument is not yet in their system. I just needed to click on the "Request Document" button. In doing that this message was displayed with a calming green background:

Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with successful Request Submitted notice.
Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with successful Request Submitted notice.

Time passed...a little more than 72 hours actually. Usually I will give the folks managing OnLand five working days to put the instrument into the system.

To see if they could find and upload the instrument to their computers I had to repeat the process of requesting NE3241 from OnLand. Since I've already done this before and had written down the registration number (remember...WRITE DOWN THE REGISTRATION NUMBER!) this was quick and almost painless.

I guess I did everything right since I when I clicked search this time the following was displayed:

Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with "1 Instrument found for NE3241" notice.
Screen capture from OnLand from the Instruments, Plans and Evidence request page with "1 Instrument found for NE3241" notice.

Now I could purchase the instrument. Generally, for our genealogy research we don't need to have the copy certified and quite often the digital copy is just fine so we can save money and get the copy of the instrument for $3 plus $0.39 HST for a grand total of $3.39.

After going to the checkout and paying for my order I was brought to the page to download the PDF (I've blanked out the email and order number):

Screen capture from OnLand showing a successful order transaction for instrument NE3241.
Screen capture from OnLand showing a successful order transaction for instrument NE3241.

Make sure you download the copy of the instrument from here just in case the email OnLand sends you with the PDF attached somehow gets lost!

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

1921 Census and Addresses in Ontario

Over the past year I've written about finding the location of a property in Ontario in the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1901, and 1911 Censuses of Canada. I've even written about the "missing" images of the 1861 Census of Canada West on Ancestry. A number of times I've mentioned that the schedules for the 1881 and 1891 Censuses of Canada which have the property details didn't survive to the present day. So this leaves the 1921 Census of Canada to be covered (at least until the 1931 Census of Canada is released to the public). So off we go...

Much like the 1911 Census of Canada, only "Schedule 1, Population" was preserved to be digitized and the other four schedules no longer exist. But like the 1911 Census of Canada, the Population schedule for the 1921 Census of Canada can include specific details of where the household resided.

Before we look at what we might find we need to read what was required to be recorded. The information can be found on the Census of Canada, 1921 landing page at Library and Archives Canada under the Column headings and interpretation section. For column 4, the description says:

Column 4. Place of Abode (Section or Township)
In rural localities, give parish, section, township, range and Meridian.

What do the instructions to the enumerators state? For that we need to read the "Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, Instructions to Commissioners and Enumerators". On page 20 and 21 we find written:

71. Columns 4 and 5. - Place of Abode.  In the case of a city town or incorporated village (see Instructions Nos. 55 and 56) the enumerator will enter the Number of the house and the Street in column 4 and the name of the Ward in column 5. In the case of rural districts, the name of the Township, Lot, Parish or Cadastral number will be entered in column 4 and the name of the Municipality in column 5.

Provided, however, that in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Section, Township, Range and Meridian will be entered respectively in columns 4, 4a, 4b and 4c, adding the name of the Municipality, Local Improvement District or Unorganized Territorial Unit, where such exists, in column 5.

Let's look at some examples of what might be found in the records for Ontario.

The 1921 census of Canada is available on the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) site for free. You can search for people and view pages there. It is also on Ancestry.ca under their "1921 Census of Canada" collection. It is free at access on Ancestry as long has you have a login account but you DO NOT need a paid subscription!

For non-urban locations you will quite often only see the township recorded such as we find for the district of Bruce South, sub-district of Huron Township, Division 1:

1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 70, sub-district 36, Huron Township, p. 5; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Nov 2013).
1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 70, sub-district 36, Huron Township, p. 5; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 Nov 2013).

Yet some of the enumerators went the extra distance (mile? kilometre?) and also included the concession and lot number for the property as seen in this extract from Middlesex East, London Township:

1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 102, sub-district 14, London Township, p. 3; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Aug 2018).
1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 102, sub-district 14, London Township, p. 3; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 Aug 2018).

As we can see, not only did the enumerator record that the household of John L. Morris is in London Township but they are on Concession 3, lot 18.

What about the folks in the villages, towns, and cities?

Again, it depends on the enumerator and type/size of the city, town, or village. For example, we can see that the household of Charles Heatherington is residing at 94 Hamilton in Dalhousie Ward, Ottawa.

1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 71, sub-district 46, Ottawa, p. 4; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jul Aug 2020).
1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 71, sub-district 46, Ottawa, p. 4; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jul Aug 2020).

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Here the enumerator for Kingsville only recorded the street name. This is quite common for the smaller towns and villages.

1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 78, sub-district 34, Kingsville p. 9; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Sep 2014).
1921 census of Canada, Ontario, district 78, sub-district 34, Kingsville p. 9; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Sep 2014).

Yet it still helps us narrow down where the people lived. And any clue, no matter how small, is a good clue!


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Finding on the Ground: An Ontario Concession/Lot on a Map

You have finally figured out where your rural Ontario ancestor lived by finding the location in the census records (1851, 1861, 1871, 1901, or 1911) or through other means and have the township, concession, and lot details. Now you want to take a road trip and actually stand where they may have trod. 

So let's find that location on a map!

At the end of my previous post "Finding on the Ground - A Rural Route Address in Ontario" I skipped over the detailed process of how to do this. Now I'm going to walk you through the steps I took but using a different property than in that example.

The first step is to visit the Ontario "Topographic maps" site and click on the "Make a topographic map now" button. This will redirect you to the "Make a Topographic Map" page hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. After a few moments a disclaimer will appear concerning the Ontario Parcel Licence Agreement. Read through it and at the bottom of the box click the "I Accept" button to continue (assuming you do agree to the license).

At the top of the page is a menu bar. Click on the word "Navigation" then the "Search" button (as highlighted below):

Screen capture of the menu bar with Navigation selected and the Search button highlighted from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site.
Screen capture of the menu bar with Navigation selected and the Search button highlighted from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site.

A menu will appear asking how you want to Perform a Search. Since you have the Township, Concession, and Lot of the property you will want to select "Lot/Concession/Township" from the list:

Screen capture of the "Perform a Search" menu from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site.
Screen capture of the "Perform a Search" menu from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site.

You are now prompted for the Township, Concession, and Lot details. Each of the items to be filled in need to be selected from the drop down item list. The Concession and Lot items change based on the Township and Concession selected.

Here is filled in the details for my 4th great-grandfather, Alexander Fraser, who resided in Drummond Township, on the 2nd Concession in lot 12 in the 1851 and 1816 censuses of Canada West.

Screen capture of the "Search by Twp/Lot/Concession" menu from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site with details of Drummond Township, Concession 2, Lot 12 filled in.
Screen capture of the "Search by Twp/Lot/Concession" menu from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site with details of Drummond Township, Concession 2, Lot 12 filled in.

Clicking on the Search button will bring you to the property on the map and highlight it in orange like you see below.

Screen capture of the search result returned by "Search by Twp/Lot/Concession" from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site for Drummond Township, Concession 2, Lot 12.
Screen capture of the search result returned by "Search by Twp/Lot/Concession" from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site for Drummond Township, Concession 2, Lot 12.

You can zoom in and out of the map to see where the property is in relation to other places. In the bottom corner of the map beside the scale bar there is even a button to show an imagery map instead of the default topographic map.

Great, you have the location on the map. 

But what about getting directions to the place? 

For this I generally just right-click my mouse (I have a Windows computer, not too certain how a Mac or iPad user will do that) on the orange box near a road. This will being up a box with different actions. However, it also gives the latitude and longitude of where you right-clicked.

Screen capture of the search result returned by "Search by Twp/Lot/Concession" from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site for Drummond Township, Concession 2, Lot 12 with the action box displayed.
Screen capture of the search result returned by "Search by Twp/Lot/Concession" from the Ontario "Make a Topographic Map" site for Drummond Township, Concession 2, Lot 12 with the action box displayed.

We now have the location of Lat: 44.937° N and Lon: 76.194° W. You can even copy that text into your clipboard. Why do that? For the next step which is using Google Maps.

Open up Google Maps and in the Search Google Maps box put in the coordinates you got from the map on the Make a Topographic Map site.

Screen capture from Google Maps with the coordinates entered for 44.937° N 76.194° W.
Screen capture from Google Maps with the coordinates entered for 44.937° N 76.194° W.

Just a heads up, you have to remove the "Lat:" and "Lon:" words if you do a copy and paste of the coordinates for this to work.

If everything has worked properly then Google will bring you to the location on their map.

Screen capture from Google Maps for the coordinates 44.937° N 76.194° W and Satellite view selected.
Screen capture from Google Maps for the coordinates 44.937° N 76.194° W and Satellite view selected.

With the location pinpointed you can ask Google for driving directions, save the location if you have logged in with your Google account, send to your phone, or even share with others via social media. If the Google Streetview car has driven past the place you can even see what the view looks like if you were standing on the road.

You might even make your own custom Google Map highlighting the various properties of nearby ancestors and other connected relatives.

Enjoy your road trip!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

1911 Census of Canada and Addresses in Ontario

Although the 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1901 Censuses of Canada have additional schedules which have survived to provide us with more detailed information of where our ancestors resided, the 1911 census also has that information included in the surviving "Schedule 1, Population".

From the Library and Archives Canada page on "Census of Canada, 1911" under the Columns headings and interpretation" section they state:

Column 4. Place of habitation

  • For cities, towns or incorporated villages, the number of the house and the name of the street, such as "14 Bay Street."
  • For rural districts, the name of the township, lot, parish or cadastral number such as "lot 13, concession 1."
  • For Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the location was noted by township, range or meridian such as "T. 14, R. 9, W. 3," for township 14, range 9, west of the 3rd meridian.

The exact wording of the instructions to the enumerators can be found in the "Fifth Census of Canada 1911: Instructions to Officers, Commissioners and Enumerators" on page 26, item 82, "Place of habitation"

In theory, if the enumerator was being diligent, we should have that information when we come across them in the 1911 Census of Canada.

The operative phrase here is "In theory". Here are a few samples from my own collection of 1911 Census of Canada pages in Ontario to highlight the various ways enumerators recorded the place of habitation.

Here, the enumerator only provided the name of the township, N. Elmsley:

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 90, sub-district 15, Elmsley North Township, p. 4; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Nov 2013); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20381.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 90, sub-district 15, Elmsley North Township, p. 4; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Nov 2013); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20381.

Contrast that with the following extract from the census done in Tay Township, Simcoe County where the enumerator provided the lot and concession.

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 119, sub-district 21, Tay Township, p. 7; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Feb 2014); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20397.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 119, sub-district 21, Tay Township, p. 7; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Feb 2014); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20397.

What about the villages, town, and cities in Ontario? Here is an example with the street number and name recorded in the place of habitation. As long as the street name hasn't changed, the street hasn't been renumbered, or the street completely removed we have a chance of finding the location on a current map.

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 132, sub-district 46, Niagara Falls, p. 38; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Aug 2015); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20408.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 132, sub-district 46, Niagara Falls, p. 38; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Aug 2015); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20408.

There may be occasions where we have to read around some of the tally marks made by the enumerator or statistician. So that can be annoying at times.

Sometime you only get the name of the street and not the number. But that's better than nothing...right?

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 83, sub-district 20, Goderich, p. 24; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2019); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20378.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 83, sub-district 20, Goderich, p. 24; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2019); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20378.

Unfortunately, there are times where not even the street name is given as we find for the Town of Clinton. All the enumerator wrote was "Clinton".

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 83, sub-district 17, Clinton Town, p. 13; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Oct 2012); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20378.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 83, sub-district 17, Clinton Town, p. 13; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Oct 2012); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20378.

What really makes life challenging is when the paper copy was put onto microfilm and the quality of the image is, for a better word, lacking.

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 68, sub-district 49, Kingsville, p. 1; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Nov 2014); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20371.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 68, sub-district 49, Kingsville, p. 1; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Nov 2014); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20371.

Hopefully with graphic editing software you might be able to bring out the details (this is just a quick first pass contrast/gamma correction using Irfanview)

1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 68, sub-district 49, Kingsville, p. 1; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Nov 2014); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20371; colour adjusted.
1911 census of Canada, Ontario, district 68, sub-district 49, Kingsville, p. 1; RG 31; digital images, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Nov 2014); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-20371; colour adjusted.

As you can see, the 1911 Census of Canada also has clues we can use to find our ancestors on the ground.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Finding on the Ground: Then and Now in Ontario

When dealing with land records in Ontario one of the challenges I still struggle with is locating the property when the family lived in an urban area. So when I saw the following post in the Ontario Genealogy Facebook group I decided to give it another go.

"I have found my 2nd great grandparents, William and Jane Hughes on the 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses in Orangeville. Is there any way to figure out exactly where in the Orangeville area they lived?"

There were several good suggestions such as looking on the Canadian County Atlas Digital Project and looking at Ontario city directories like those linked to by The Ancestor Hunt. Out of those suggestions, another clue was provided to help me locate the family in the census. William and Jane Hughes had sons Robert and William were tailors. One person suggested looking at the other census schedules since they provide real estate information.

And that is where I am going to start.

Out of the three Canada censuses mentioned in the original query, the 1871 census of Canada is the only one with surviving schedules beyond the Population Schedule. On Ancestry I started looking for a William Hughes residing in Orangeville with a Jane as a possible spouse and Robert and William in the household. Keep in mind that the 1871 census of Canada doesn't list the familial relationships so we have to often make assumptions as to the relationship or use other records to confirm the connect. I also used Ancestry for several reasons:

  • Ancestry has images for the 1871 census available for viewing whereas FamilySearch doesn't. FamilySearch does have the census transcribed but I prefer looking at the image for other clues.
  • The URL for the image which Ancestry presents includes details I can use to view the same image on the Library and Archives Canada site.
  • The search system on the Library and Archives Canada site for censuses is not as powerful as that found on Ancestry

After searching Ancestry I found one household which fit the information about the family.

Here is the family of William Hughes in the Wellington Centre district (34), Orangeville sub-district (i), on page 66, starting at line 1, dwelling 236, family 236.

1871 Census of Canada, Wellington Centre (district 34), Orangeville (sub-district i), Schedule 1, p. 66-67, Household of William Hughes; RG 31; digital images, Library and Archives Canada (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021); citing microfilm C-9948.
1871 Census of Canada, Wellington Centre (district 34), Orangeville (sub-district i), Schedule 1, p. 66-67, Household of William Hughes; RG 31; digital images, Library and Archives Canada (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021); citing microfilm C-9948.

Now I turned to my own prior blog post "Ontario Concession and Lot in the 1871 Census of Canada" to guide me through the process to locate Schedule 4, Return of cultivated land and products on Ancestry. For that I needed to record the following details:

  • District: Wellington Centre (34)
  • Sub-district: Orangeville (i)
  • Page: 66
  • Line: 1

Moving through the virtual filmstrip on Ancestry I quickly came to image 54 of 85 which has the image of the Schedule 4 page which references back to page 66, line 1 of Schedule 1 - Nominal Return of Living (AKA the Population Schedule).

1871 Census of Canada, Wellington Centre (district 34), Orangeville (sub-district i), Schedule 4, p. 12-13; RG 31; digital images, Library and Archives Canada (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021); citing microfilm C-9948.
1871 Census of Canada, Wellington Centre (district 34), Orangeville (sub-district i), Schedule 4, p. 12-13; RG 31; digital images, Library and Archives Canada (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021); citing microfilm C-9948.

If this was a rural property I would have expected to see a concession and lot number after the columns with the 66 and 1. Instead there are dashes which leads me to believe the property is within the village of Orangeville. Even then there are bits of information for us.

  • William owns the property
  • There are 3 acres occupied
  • 3 acres have been improved
  • 1 acre allocated for pasture
  • 1 acre has been used to produce 100 bushels of potatoes

I still don't know where in Orangeville they reside. The directories I did come across were farmer and business directories and I didn't find William Hughes listed with an address. But, based on my own experience, that isn't too surprising. So off to my next stop, the land records.

For this I wanted to look at the Land Record books. Normally I'd start with the Abstract Index books but sometimes the Land Record books include a name index at the front and the Abstract Index books don't. But I don't have a lot, concession, or any other specific about the location. So I took a gamble in the hopes of short-cutting the search.

On FamilySearch I used the catalogue to search for the current county which has Orangeville within its bounds, Dufferin. For the place I typed "Canada, Ontario, Dufferin" to get to the land and property records for that county. Within the Land and property section I selected "Land record of Dufferin County, ca. 1821-1955" to open up the Land Records collection. Scrolling through the list of digitized microfilms I noted that the earlier Orangeville volume "O" books may be indexed. With any luck the index will help me.

I selected DGS 8548530, "Orangeville (indexed) 1825-1863; Orangeville (v. 1) 1841-1869; Orangeville (v. O, indexed) 1864-1869" as a starting place on the hope that William Hughes had land transactions in that time since he was already settled in Orangeville by 1871.

The Town of Orangeville Deeds volume "O" which I was interested in started at image 345 in that digitized microfilm reel.

As an aside, although the current town of Orangeville is in Dufferin County in Ontario and not Wellington County, until 1879 Orangeville was part of Wellington County. Yes, geography can be confusing and boundaries can shift or be created over time. This can actually be seen when you read the description page of that volume where it is recorded:

"This Register contains, exclusive of the Index 175 pages and is to be used in and for the Village of Orangeville in the County of Wellington for the Enregistration of Memorials, under the provisions of the Act of the Legislature of the Province of Canada passed in the Ninth Year of Her Majesty's Reign..."

In the index I came across a mortgage instrument for William Hughes and wife recorded as instrument 133 on folio 299. This looked promising.

After bouncing through the virtual microfilm images I came to instrument 133 starting on image 525. This was an indenture made on the 20th of February, 1868 by William Hughes of the village of Orangeville in the County of Wellington, Province of Ontario and Dominion of Canada, a weaver, and Jane Hughes of the same place as the first two parties with William Armstrong as the other party. 

William and Jane Hughes? That is the couple we are looking for. A good sign.

After reading through a whole bunch of legalese I came across the mention that the property is three acres. Three acres is the same amount of land recorded in Schedule 4 of the 1871 census of Canada for this household. I think I found the property.

A bit further on it states:

"...being composed of Part lot number Eight on the South Side of Factory Street in said Village..."

Just a second!

That's a street name and even a lot number.

This is easy now I though to myself. I just have to put into Google Maps the street name and Orangeville and it will appear.

And no such luck. It looked like there is no Factory Street in present day Orangeville. OK, not a problem. I just have more work to do.

This is where old maps come in handy. A quick search for "old maps of orangeville ontario" (without the quotes) on Google Images brought me to the "2017 - TRAILBLAZERS" page of the Digital Historian Project at the Dufferin County Museum & Archives. On that page I found an early map of Orangeville from 1875 (based on the map filename).

It wasn't too long before I found Factory Street and on the south side of the street there is even a lot 8.

Map of Orangeville, "2017 - TRAILBLAZERS", Digital Historian Project Canada Case Files. (https://digitalhistorianproject.wordpress.com/2017-trailblazers/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021), extract focused on Factory and Centre Streets.
Map of Orangeville, "2017 - TRAILBLAZERS", Digital Historian Project Canada Case Files. (https://digitalhistorianproject.wordpress.com/2017-trailblazers/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021), extract focused on Factory and Centre Streets.

Yet where is that street now? Does it even exist? Has it been renamed?

To answer that question I returned to Google Maps to look at the present day map of Orangeville. Using the clues in the older map. With a little bit of create work in Google Maps I was able to align the map to sort of have the same orientation of the old map. Lo and behold, doesn't this area look like that extract from the old map?

Screen capture from Google Maps centred on Hillside Drive and Centre Street, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada (accessed 13 Jul 2021).
Screen capture from Google Maps centred on Hillside Drive and Centre Street, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada (accessed 13 Jul 2021).

It seems like Factory Street has been renamed as Hillside Drive. I now had a current street name and with that I can possibly use the Ontario Land Property Records Portal, OnLand, Property search function but I still needed a street number. I used the Street View on Google Maps and guessed that it might be around 5 Hillside Drive.

If you haven't used OnLand yet then you are in for a rough ride initially. It has a bit of a learning curve but the results can be worth it. I'm not going to go into the details of how I found the documents though. That will possibly be for a future post.

So when I put that address into the OnLand Property address search it returned:

PT LT 8, PL 170 AS IN MF138033 ; ORANGEVILLE

as the property details.

There is that Lot 8. It is referenced as part of Plan 170 (PL 170).

I wasn't going to celebrate until I could actually see the Abstract/Parcel Index book page for that property and I see William Hughes listed.

When I looked at in the Abstract/Parcel Register Book under Historical Books for the Dufferin Land Registry Office (LRO) and filtered by Orangeville as the municipality the list was way too short so that filter wasn't going to help me. But I did see that the various "PLAN ###" books didn't have a Township/Municipality assigned. Just great...NOT!

Scrolling through the list I quickly (yay!) found PLAN 170 in Book B113. Opening that book I found it only had 63 pages. I can easily deal with looking through 63 pages.

On image 26 I found the start of the Town of Orangeville, Lot 8, Plan 170 pages.

Screen capture from the Dufferin LRO, Historical Books, Abstract/Parcel Index for Town of Orangeville, Lot 8, Plan 170, page 1; Ontario Land Property Records Portal (https://www.onland.ca/ui/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021)
Screen capture from the Dufferin LRO, Historical Books, Abstract/Parcel Index for Town of Orangeville, Lot 8, Plan 170, page 1; Ontario Land Property Records Portal (https://www.onland.ca/ui/ : accessed 13 Jul 2021)

There is the B&S for William Armstrong and wife selling the property to William Hughes on 20 Feb 1868. The instrument is number 132. That is just one instrument before the one describing the mortgage William Hughes took out to pay for the property.

Here is the start of that instrument as found on FamilySearch in the Land Records book for Orangeville, Book "O":

Land records of Dufferin County, ca. 1821-1955, Orangeville (indexed) 1825-1863; Orangeville (v. 1) 1841-1869; Orangeville (v. O, indexed) 1864-1869, instrument 132; Registrar's Office, Orangeville, Ontario; DGS 8,548,530, image 525 (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3QZ-WF3K : accessed 13 Jul 2021).
Land records of Dufferin County, ca. 1821-1955, Orangeville (indexed) 1825-1863; Orangeville (v. 1) 1841-1869; Orangeville (v. O, indexed) 1864-1869, instrument 132; Registrar's Office, Orangeville, Ontario; DGS 8,548,530, image 525, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3QZ-WF3K : accessed 13 Jul 2021).

To answer the original question "Is there any way to figure out exactly where in the Orangeville area they lived?", yes it is possible. All it took was the combined resources of:

  • 1871 Census of Canada, Schedule 1
  • 1871 Census of Canada, Schedule 4
  • Ontario Land Record books on FamilySearch
  • Ontario Land Property Record Portal (OnLand) Historical Abstract/Parcel Index books
  • Google Maps
  • Google Search
  • some effort
  • and a bit of luck