Of course, I’d love to see full details, with all personally identifying information, for every Canadian census ever taken, up to and including the day before yesterday. But: I also realize there are genuine privacy concerns relating to the public release of personally identifying information.
The fact is, you can learn a lot from the recorded facts of the census, if you pay attention to the details. “Illegitimate” births; unofficial (and perhaps unacknowledged in the adoptee’s lifetime) adoptions (including, e.g., British Home Children whose birth names were erased/subsumed under the surnames of their adopters, or, perhaps, employers); “widows” who were not actually widowed; bigamy … look, I don’t mean to suggest that the census is just a big scandal sheet in tabular form, but I’ve seen examples of all of the situations just mentioned, and more, in currently publicly available Canadian census returns.
About a month and a half ago, when the US federal census of 1940 was first released, people were posting pages from the 1940 on facebook: ‘Here’s my grandmother in Detroit, Michigan!’; ‘Hey, Dad! Here you are, just five years old!’ Needless to say, I felt a pang of, well, envy, I suppose: under current rules and regulations, it won’t be until 2033 that we see the public release of the 1941 Canadian census, after all, and even the release of the 1921 Canadian census is a year away. At the same time, though, I couldn’t help thinking that 1940 is awfully recent (in historical terms, it is almost the day before yesterday): still well within living memory, and, indeed, a date that many people now living have actually lived through.
On the other hand, I have very little patience with the idea that the census returns should be destroyed just as soon as the data has been extracted and compiled into socio-economic profiles of the aggregate. I want to see the details; I think we should all have access to the details, once a certain amount of time (72 years? 92 years?) has elapsed. My perspective here has admittedly been coloured by the loss of the 19th-century Irish census (which, sob! I’m still not over…): a great loss not only to Irish genealogy and family history, but also to Irish social history and demography (but see Fiona Fitzsimons on Griffith’s Valuation as a census substitute).
Is the American 72-year rule too lax? is Canada’s 92-year rule too strict? What is a reasonable middle ground between access and privacy?
UPDATE (7 June 2013): Poll removed due to technical issues (basically, the poll plugin was slowing down the site).
FamilySearch adds Quebec, Non-Catholic Parish Registers, 1763-1967.
Fiona Fitzsimons on the importance of Griffith’s Valuation as a “gateway” resource.
If I had to name just one reference guide to Irish genealogy, I would not hesitate to say John Grenham’s Tracing Your Irish Ancestors. As a general, all-purpose guide, there’s no question that this is the book: it is very well-written and very well-organized; both comprehensive and comprehensible; and also just smart and insightful, which makes it a pleasure to use.
Is there a comparable ‘the best general guide’ to Scottish genealogy? to English genealogy? and I suppose I should also add, to Welsh genealogy? (and why is Wales so frequently overlooked?)
As noted in the previous entry, John Delaney and Emma Dean were married at Salford, England on 16 January 1886; a year and a half later, their Protestant marriage was blessed by a Catholic priest at Notre Dame de Grâce, Hull (Ottawa County, Québec, Canada).
From the GRO (General Register Office), here is a copy of the civil registration of their marriage, which was solemnized at an Anglican church: St. Bartholomew’s, Salford:
Note that John Delaney’s address is given as “Salford Barracks,” and his occupation as “Musician 80th Foot.” This is the same regiment (80th Foot) in which his father Michael Delaney had served, though Michael Delaney was an army pensioner by 1881, and by 1883 he and his wife Mary Ashbury had emigrated to Canada (John Delaney, with his wife Emma Dean, would follow his parents to Canada by the summer of 1887).
John Delaney’s military career began at a (by today’s standards) shockingly early age. His obituary (Ottawa Citizen, 22 Dec 1931) records that he was a drummer in the [Anglo-]Zulu War. He would have been about 13 years old at the time1: a drummer boy. He appears to have fudged his birth year by a couple of years for his Salford marriage (where he is listed as age 21, when he was in fact 19 years of age: perhaps he had already added a couple of years to his age in order to serve in the 80th Foot Regiment in 1880? he should have been 14 years old in 1880 in order to serve, but given his birth date, he clearly wasn’t), but in August 1887 Rev. Father M.E. Harnois of Notre Dame de Grâce accurately listed John Delaney as fils mineur (minor son, i.e., not yet 21 years of age) of Michael Delaney and Mary Ashberry [Ashbury].
It is highly unusual to have a civil registration of an Anglican marriage in England followed by a Catholic blessing of said marriage in the province of Quebec, Canada. My guess (pure speculation here, admittedly) is that John Delaney’s Irish Catholic parents (and probably especially his mother) were in fits that their son had placed his immortal soul in peril, and somebody (again, probably his mother) had lobbied the local parish priest to fix things, to put the fix in.
- John (Michael John) Delaney was born 12 August 1867 at Port Louis, Mauritius; the Anglo-Zulu War began 22 January 1879. According to his obituary, John Delaney served as a drummer in 1880. ↩
From the parish register for Notre Dame de Grâce, Hull (Ottawa County, Quebec), here is an interesting (and highly unusual) marriage record. As I read it, it is not a record of the performance of a marriage act at Notre Dame de Grâce. Rather, it is a record of a Catholic blessing bestowed upon a marriage that had already taken place — in a Protestant ceremony in Salford, Greater Manchester, England, a year and a half earlier.
The record [my transcription, with my translation] reads as follows:
Le sept Aout mil huit cent quatre vingt sept par devant nous prêtre, dûment autorisé par Monseigneur Joseph Thomas Duhamel Archevêque d’Ottawa, soussigné se sont présentés John Delany fils mineur de Michel Dolany et de Mary Ashberry de cette paroisse d’un part, et Emma Dean fille mineure de Herbert Dean et de Mary Davis de Salford, Manchester Angleterre d’autre part, lesquels ont déjà contracté ensemble mariage le seize Janvier mil huit cent quatre ving six a Salford, Manchester Angleterre, devant un ministre protestant: n’ayant découvert aucun empechement, nous prêtre soussigné avons bene [bené] leur mariage en présence de Michael Delany et de Francis Delany soussignés. ME Harnois, ptre.[The seventh of August one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven in the presence of we the undersigned priest, duly authorized by Monseigneur Joseph Thomas Duhamel Archbishop of Ottawa, have come John Delany minor son of Michel Dolaney and of Mary Ashberry of this parish, on the one part, and Emma Dean minor daughter of Herbert Dean and of Mary Davis of Salford, Manchester, England on the other part, who have already contracted marriage together on the sixteenth of January one thousand eight hundred and eighty-six in Salford, Manchester, England in the presence of a Protestant minister: no impediment having been discovered, we the undersigned priest have blessed their marriage in the presence of the undersigned Michael Delany and Francis Delany. ME Harnois, priest]
A week before the above-recorded blessing, it should be noted, Emma Dean had converted to Roman Catholicism and had been baptized a Catholic at Notre Dame de Grâce (31 July 1887), with her father-in-law Michael Delaney and her mother-in-law Mary Ashbury serving as sponsors (as le parrain, the godfather, and la marraine, the godmother, respectively). Without this conversion to Catholicism on the part of Emma Dean, there’s no way that Father M.E. Harnois would have blessed the marriage.
In addition to Library and Archives Canada’s Lower Canada Land Petitions (1764-1841), archive.org has the List of lands granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec, from 1763 to 31st December 1890 [Liste des terrains concédés par la Couronne dans la province de Québec, de 1763 au 31 décembre 1890] (Quebec: Charles-François Langlois, Printer to the Queen, 1891) available online in several formats (including Full Text, PDF, and DjVu).
This online, digitized version of a microfilm is admittedly a bit cumbersome to read (there are 1927 [one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven] pages, after all!, and some of the text is quite faint/faded), but definitely worth the effort if you’re looking for ancestors who settled in Lower Canada/Quebec.
Actually, Catholic records for Pontiac County are also online at BAnQ, free of charge, and for the same time period (roughly 1894-1909, though it varies by church/parish). But the Catholic parish registers for Pontiac Co., Quebec are available online at three other sites that I know of, and for a much broader time period:
- by subscription at ancestry.ca (Quebec, Vital and Church Records [Drouin Collection], 1621-1967);
- free of charge at FamilySearch (Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900);
- and by subscription at Généalogie Québec (Registres du Fonds Drouin).
So I’m highlighting the Protestant records of Pontiac County here, since it’s my impression that these records are far less readily available in online, digitized format than are the RC parish records.1
BAnQ = Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (National Library and Archives of Quebec). And, because of Quebec’s pre-1994 church-based system of civil registration,2 BAnQ’s collection of digitized parish registers (both Catholic and Protestant) will be found under the heading of Registres de l’état civil (= civil registers).
The records are here. For Pontiac County (District judiciaire de Pontiac [Outaouais]), look for Outaouais in the left menu (under Par région [by region]), then look for District de Pontiac (the other option being District de Hull). The time period is admittedly quite limited (roughly 1894 to 1909, as mentioned above), but this is an ongoing project, apparently, and we can expect to see the coverage broadened in the future. The alphabetical list (right side of page) for Pontiac Co. begins with Bristol Township Presbyterian Church and ends with Thorne Township Methodist Church, and includes a number of Protestant (Anglican [Church of England]; Lutheran; Methodist; Presbyterian; and also the Shawville Holiness Movement Church) Pontiac Co. parishes in between.
A few French terms in translation, to help with navigation:
- Début = [to the] beginning
- suivante = next
- précédente = previous
- Affichage plein écran = full-screen display
- Certainly, there are no Protestant parishes included in FamilySearch’s “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers” collection, for obvious reasons. And while ancestry.ca’s Drouin collection does include many Protestant parishes in the province of Québec, there appear to be some gaps in its coverage of Pontiac County (for Protestant denominations, I mean, not for RC parishes). And as to Généalogie Quebec, I really don’t know: it is not easy to use its search tools (in fact, I don’t think it’s possible) without subscribing to its service, and I gave up my subscription when FamilySearch added not only “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900” but also “Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923” to its online collection (which, in combination with ancestry’s RC Drouin records for both Québec and Ontario, now answers my research needs, and why pay for a subscription that you won’t actually use?). So for all I know, Généalogie Québec has Protestant Pontiac well covered, though with a paid, subscription-only service. ↩
- Brief description of the system, in French, at BAnQ, under En savoir plus (to know more/further information), Présentation; but also see Marlene Simmons for a brief but comprehensive English-language explanation ↩
A new address for John Grenham’s Irish Roots blog.