1842 Upper Canada Census Online

Via John Reid’s Anglo-Celtic Connections, the 1842 Upper Canada Census (or some [most?] of what survives, at any rate) is now online (and free of charge!) at FamilySearch.org.

Not that I’m complaining, because online access (and free of charge, at that) is obviously quite wonderful, but: I suspect the indexing of names1 for this database has some glitches.2 For example, my search of this database for “James Moran” turned up nothing. And when I then tried “James Morin,” I also got nothing. Well, then, how about “Jas. Moran”? Nope, nothing. And “Jas. Morin”? Er, sorry, no, but still nothing.

I knew that James Moran could be found in this census, because I have the published transcription (published by the Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society: 2000) of the 1842 census, Canada West, Carleton County (ed. J. M. Robinson).

So I left off searching by name, and scrolled down to “View Images in this Collection” to “Browse through 1,169 images” (yes, that’s a lot of images to browse through, but I already knew I’d be looking for images for Huntley township, which narrowed things down considerably). Clicking on Carleton, Bathurst from this list of Counties and Districts brings up, amongst other townships, that of Huntley.

Sure enough, here is my 3x great-grandfather James Moran (listed as “Jas Morin”) in the 1842 Upper Canada census (my highlights in yellow, and click on the following to view a larger image):

James Moran (Jas Morin) household, 1842 Upper Canada Census.
James Moran (Jas Morin) household, 1842 Upper Canada Census.

For the family of James Moran/Jas Morin, this census lists 2 natives of Ireland (= James Moran and his wife Margaret Jamieson), and 7 natives of Canada (= 7 of the 10 known children of James and Margaret).3 All 9 are listed (column not shown in the image above) as members of the Church of Rome (= Roman Catholic). The two natives of Ireland (James Moran and Margaret Jamieson) had apparently been in the province of Upper Canada for 21 years. And in those 21 years, they had apparently “improved” (i.e., cleared the land of trees, in order to plant crops) 20 acres of land (again, column not shown in the image above).

Which maybe doesn’t sound too impressive (20 acres in 21 years? that’s about one acre per year), except that clearing the land (felling trees; removing rocks and and brush and what have you) was hard, heavy, back-breakingly difficult work; and it was time-consuming and labour-intensive too. For the average settler/farmer, it took many, many years to clear a hundred acres of land; and not to sound sexist, but the more sons the better to help with this work (not that the daughters would be sitting around eating bonbons while their brothers were cutting down trees: far from it! they worked every bit as hard as their brothers, and their labour was every bit as essential to the establishment and maintenance of a working farm; but labour was highly gendered in the early- to mid-nineteenth century, and clearing the land was men’s work).

James Moran probably died (about 1857) in the rough shanty that he had built as one of the original settlers of Huntley township. It was his son (and my 2x great-grandfather) Alexander Michael Moran who built a solid stone house on Concession I, Lot 11, Huntley, which house was later moved to Galetta.

  1. And note that it is only the (mostly male) heads of households who were identified by name in the 1842 Upper Canada census.
  2. These glitches are no doubt related to: illegible handwriting; unexpected name abbreviations; and strange surname variations.
  3. James Moran and Margaret Jamieson had three sons and seven daughters. The 1842 census records the presence of two sons and five daughters in their household. Daughter Marcella had married John Hogan in 1838, so would no longer be listed with her parents. Daughter Anna, born 1834, probably died in early childhood. Son James may have gone to the Pakenham area in the late 1830s, early 1840s? before dying of cholera in 1851.