Translating French Records: Canadian Census Returns

Alex Moran household, 1901 census of Canada, Ontario, Ottawa City (district 100), St. George Ward (subdistrict E-3), p. 19, family 152.

Canadian census records might be recorded in English, in French, or in a combination of both languages.

Here’s an example of a French-English combination, from the 1901 census of Ottawa (see right; click thumbnail preview to enlarge). This is the household of Alexander Michael Moran, with his wife Anna Maria Benton; his sons Allan Jerome and Orville Alexander Moran; his sister Emma (Mary Emilia Moran) Lenahan; and his sister-in-law Margaret Anne Benton. The six members of this household were listed with a combination of English and French descriptors, some of which were as follows:

Name Relationship to
Household Head
Racial or Tribal
Origin
Mother Tongue
Alex Moran Chef [Head] Irish Anglais [English]
Anna Moran épouse [wife]
Allan Jerome Moran fils [son]
Alex Moran fils [son]
Emma Lannehan Dom [domestique/domestic] Anglais [English]
Maggie Benton Dom [domestique/domestic]

Again, this French-English language combination was entirely typical of records originating from and/or pertaining to the Ottawa Valley.

A few terms of relationship in translation (with terms relating to origins/ethnicity, and to occupation, to follow):

A Few Terms of Relationship in Translation

French English
beau-frère brother-in-law
beau-père father-in-law (in relation to spouse)
stepfather (in relation to child)
belle fille daughter-in-law
stepdaughter
belle-mère mother-in-law (in relation to spouse)
stepmother (in relation to child)
belle-soeur sister-in-law
chef head
domestique domestic; domestic servant
épouse wife
fille daughter
fille adoptive foster daughter
adopted daughter
fils son
fils adoptif foster son
adopted son
frère brother
mère mother
neveau nephew
nièce niece
oncle uncle
pensionnaire lodger
père father
soeur sister
tante aunt

2 comments for “Translating French Records: Canadian Census Returns

  1. Lynn
    9 November 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Hi, Are you going to do the entry on translating your Canadian ancestors French marriage records?(The baptismal entry was VERY helpful!) Thanks!

  2. M.C. Moran
    10 November 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks! Yes, I will also do an entry on translating French marriage records.

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