In addition to birthplace and religion, one of the most genealogically useful bits of information that the Canadian census might povide is that of the ethnic origin (“Origin” in 1871 and 1881; “Racial or tribal origin” in 1901 and 1911) of an ancestor.* As with all census categories, however, the data recorded on the census form is only as accurate as the information that was given to, and understood by, the enumerator.
When I first read the Perth Courier’s obituary (January 1941) for my great-grandmother Catherine McCarthy (Mrs. Arthur McGlade), I was puzzled to read that she was survived by, amongst other people, a sister named Miss Mary Mahoney. Miss (as in, never married) Mahoney? But shouldn’t that be Miss Mary McCarthy?
Browsing through 19th-century death records reminds me of why I support universal childhood immunization. From one page of the Ontario civil registration of deaths for Huntley township, Carleton Co.:
- David Henry Harmer, Laborer, died 7 April 1883, at age 3 years. Cause of death: Scarlet fever, duration of illness 2 weeks.
- Eliza Teevans, Blacksmith’s daughter, died 21 April 1883, at age 3 years and 6 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 3 days.
- Mary Ann Teevans, Blacksmith’s daughter, died 23 April 1883, at age 4 years and 2 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 4 days.
- Albert Alonson Barrows, Farmer, died 26 April 1883, at age 3 years and 11 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 8 days.
- Daniel Teevans, Blacksmith’s son, died 26 April 1883, at age 6 years. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 2 days.
- Sarah Rebecca Barrows, Farmer’s daughter, died 27 April 1883, at age 5 years and 7 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 7 days.
Headstone for Michael James McGlade, son of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne. He died in a horrible head-on collision railway accident near Topeka, Kansas, and was buried at St. John the Baptist RC Cemetery in Perth, Lanark Co., Ontario:
My great-grandfather John James Lahey, teamster for the Kingsbury Ice Company.
Like most people who get hooked on genealogy, I’m attracted to the detective work aspect of the enterprise. A clue here; a detail there; another hint here, which, combined with a few previously discovered clues and details, finally provides a solid lead; and then: bingo! a nice little nugget of documented and verifiable information, which may then serve as a clue for some other discovery; and on (and on!) it goes.