Census Records

Benjamin Finner and Mary Mantle

Continuing with the theme of English people who emigrated to Canada and joined an Irish parish (a theme I will quickly exhaust, as I only have a handful of examples), Benjamin Finner (or Fenner) was born in England about 1796. He must have been in the Bytown area fairly early on, as he was a soldier with the 37th Regiment of Foot. His wife Mary Mantle was also an early Bytown area pioneer: born in Rathcormac, Co. Cork about 1808,* she emigrated with her parents John Mantle and Ellen Horgan/Hourigan in 1823as part of the Peter Robinson settlement.

Benjamin Finner, a Protestant, married Mary Mantle, a Catholic, about 1827 or 1828. Their children were all baptized RC, and on 23 August 1838 (St. Philip’s, Richmond), Benjamin Finner was also baptized RC (with his brother-in-law James Mantle and James’s wife Margaret O’Brien serving as sponsors):
finner_benjamin_baptism_aug1838_richmond.jpg

Benjamin Finner can be found in the 1851 and 1861 census returns for Fitzroy township, Carleton Co., Ontario, where his birthplace is listed as England (his wife Mary’s birthplace is listed as Cork, Ireland in the 1851 census, and she died [1858] before the 1861 enumeration).

Peter Doyle and Elizabeth Moran

Here’s another “blended family” from the 1881 Canadian census:

Peter Doyle, with wife Elizabeth Moran (daughter of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson), and six children (transcription by ancestry.ca; with original image [LAC] here):

doyle_peter_1881census.jpg

When I first looked at this return, I mistakenly assumed that all six children were the offspring of Peter and Elizabeth. An all too common assumption which sometimes turns out to be utterly faulty, as already mentioned here. And when I found Elizabeth Moran in the 1871 census, still unmarried and still living with her family (her widowed mother Margaret Jamieson and her siblings Thomas and Henrietta Moran) in Huntley township, I suspected that I might have to look a bit further into the available sources. Of course, the recorded ages of the above children might be off by several years (for 19th-century census returns, you should probably be prepared to potentially add or subtract about five years or so from the recorded birth year), but still: I had to wonder about the apparent discrepancy.

Sophia Scissons, “Irish”

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.

I’ve noticed a tendency in some circles to emphasize that “the records can lie,” and that people “sometimes [or often] lied.” And in some cases, well, sure. But for most instances of inaccurate information, I really think that “lie” is rather too strong a term to use. Most errors were due to faulty assumptions and genuine misunderstandings rather than to outright falsehoods, I’m pretty sure.
Let’s say that an enumerator was visiting an orphanage that was associated with an Irish Catholic parish (St. Patrick’s Church, now Basilica, on Kent St. in Ottawa), that was founded in 1865 as “a House of Refuge for the Irish poor,” that was staffed by nuns (of the Grey Sisters of the Cross) of mostly Irish origin, and that was overwhelmingly Irish Catholic in terms of the ethno-religious background of its “inmates”… and if that enumerator listed an elderly Englishwoman as Irish in origin and assigned to her the birthplace of Ireland rather than England, well, I guess I’m more than willing to believe that this was an honest mistake on his part.

Blended Families

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?

Well, no, not necessarily. Not if Miss Mary Mahoney was a half-sister of Catherine McCarthy, with a father named Mahoney who had previously been married to Catherine McCarthy’s mother Anne McDonald (or possibly McDonnell). Simplest explanation in the world, and of course it should have immediately occurred to me. But I was so focused on the surnames McCarthy and McGlade, that it actually took a bit of digging to make sense of it all.
The “blended family” is nothing new, of course. Back in the day when a woman dying in childbirth was no rare or unusual occurrence, and when a man in the prime of life, and seemingly hale and hearty the last time his neighbours ever saw him alive, might be carried off by influenza within the course of week, remarriage was quite common, and households containing children from a previous marriage were therefore quite commonplace. If you were a widow or a widower with a parcel of young children to be fed and watered, your best bet was probably to find yourself a new spouse: a new husband to bring home the bread, or a new wife to bake it. And the possibility of a remarriage is something to keep in mind when you’re looking through the 19th-century census returns: don’t assume that all of the children in a household are the children of the enumerated married couple of that household.
When Eugene McCarthy married Ann McDonald (21 March 1872), he was the widower of Catherine Trainor, with whom he had five known children (with one of them, Charles, presumably dying in infancy). And when Ann McDonald married Eugene McCarthy (21 March 1872), she was the widow of David Mahoney, with whom she had three known children, all of them daughters. Here is their blended family household from the 1881 Canadian census (transcription by ancestry.ca, with original image [LAC] here):
mccarthy_eugene_household_1881census.jpg
The above household contained children from three separate marriages:
1. Eugene McCarthy and Catherine Trainor (Jeremiah, James, Mary, and John McCarthy);
2. David Mahoney and Ann McDonald (Mary J., Abigail, and Annie Mahoney);
3. Eugene MCarthy and Ann McDonald (Ellen and Catherine McCarthy)
Abigail (Catherine Abigail, nickname “Abby”) Mahoney is mentioned in Catherine McCarthy’s (Mrs. Arthur McGlade’s) obituary as “Mrs B. Dignan,”  which again, was initially a bit mystifying to me. She married Bartholomew, son of James Dignan and Catherine Cahill, whose nickname in combination with his surname (“Bartley Dignan”) is perhaps my favourite name ever to be found in my family tree, though with the duo of Mickey and Maisie Moran running a close second (when John Levi [Leavy] “Mickey” Moran married Mary Katherine “Maisie” Dunn, to become Mickey and Maisie Moran, that couple should have put on a Broadway show or something, their paired names had such a lovely alliteration).

Canadian Census: (A Few) Religious Designations/Abbreviations

One of the most useful bits of information that the Canadian census can supply is that of the religious affiliation of your ancestor(s). This is worth knowing not only as an interesting and sociologically significant detail about the life of your ancestor, but also as a guide to further sources (church records, cemetery records, and so on).
However, you may come across an entry in the Religion column of the Canadian census that doesn’t immediately make sense to you, perhaps because the enumerator used an abbreviation that is no longer in common use, or perhaps because he used his own version of a shorthand designation.
For example, you may come across an ancestor, let’s say born in Upper Canada of Scottish origin, whose religion is listed as FC. What does that FC mean? The FC stands for Free Church, or Presbyterian. Or it may be FK, for Free Kirk (Scottish for Church, also Presbyterian). Or perhaps you’ll find an ancestor, born in Ireland and therefore of Irish origin, with religion listed as English. That English refers to the Church of England, which means that your ancestor was enumerated as an Anglican. Or maybe your ancestor was born in Ontario of Irish origin, with religion listed as C. Rome. C. Rome stands for Church of Rome, or Roman Catholic. 
Library and Archives Canada has a very brief list of religious abbreviations here. The Ontario GenWeb Census Project has a more extensive list of religion codes here.
Here are a few of the abbreviations/designations that I’ve come across for Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian:
Roman Catholic:
Catholic
R. Cath.
Catholique
RC
Church of Rome
CR [for Church of Rome]
Papist (actually, I don’t think I’ve seen this in the census, but I’ve certainly seen it in a couple of Ontario civil records).
Anglican:
Church of England
C of E
CE
English
England
Anglais
Presbyterian:
Church of Scotland
Free Church
FC
Free Kirk
FK
Scotland
Scottish

Patrick Kenny: Home Child

Found in the household of John Scissons and Hannah O’Malley in the 1891 census of March township, Carleton Co., Ontario:

Patrick Kenny, age 20, born about 1871 in England, father born England, mother born England, religion Roman Catholic, occupation Farm Labour.
This is very possibly the same Patrick Kenny who emigrated from England to Canada in 1886, at the age of 15, travelling from Liverpool to Québec with Ottawa as the destination.
It may also be the same Patrick Kenny who married Mary Moylan, daughter of John Moylan and Margaret Birmingham and widow of John Walsh, at St. Mary’s (Notre Dame du bon Conseil), Ottawa on 7 January 1919. The marriage records lists him as “Patrick Kenny, born in England, laborer, son of age (47) of John Kenny and Elisabeth Murray.” The Ontario civil registration of this marriage lists Patrick Kenny’s birthplace as Wolwich, England, and Maria [Moylan] Welch’s birthplace as South March, Ontario.

Moran household, 1842

From the 1842 census of Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario (Upper Canada),1  a snapshot of the household of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson.

This census lists only the head of household by name (here Jas. [=James] Morin [=Moran]); other members are counted under various headings having to do with sex, place of birth, and religion.
While James and Margaret had 10 children (7 daughters and 3 sons), only 7 of them (5 daughters and 2 sons) are counted here. Eldest daughter Marcella had already moved away from the household when she married John Hogan in 1838; but this still leaves one daughter unaccounted for. Possibly second youngest daughter Anna (born 1834) had died by 1842? She is certainly not found with her parents in the 1851 census. I’m not sure why only two of three sons were enumerated in 1842. James (Jr., born about 1824) died of cholera in 1851; while Thomas (never married) and Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael died of “la grippe” within a week of one another, in January 1892. Sandy Moran went up to the White Lake district near Pakenham shortly after his marriage to Mary Ann Leavy, before returning to the Moran farm at Concession I, Lot 11 at Huntley township; Thomas almost certainly never left the Moran homestead at Huntley.

Apparently the Morans in 1842 had 5 hogs, but neither horses nor cattle. They grew oats and potatoes, mainly.
1. Houses Inhabited 1
4. Name of the Head of Each Family Jas. Morin
5. Proprietor of Real Property Jas. Morin
8. Trade/Profession Farmer
12. Number of natives of Ireland belonging to each family 2
15. Number of natives of Canada belonging to each family of British origin 7
18. Number of years each person has been in the Province when not natives thereof 21
21. Female. /five years of age and under. 1
22. Male. \Number of persons in the family above 2
23. Female. /five and under fourteen years of age. 4
30. Married. \MALE 30 and not 60. 1
34. Married. \FEMALE 14 and not 45 1
48. Number of persons in each family belonging to the Church of Rome 9
69. Number of acres or arpents of land occupied by each family. 200
70. Number of acres or arpents of improved land occupied by each family. 20
71.* Wheat. 40
74.* Oats. 100
78.* Potatoes. 500
84. Hogs. 5
122. Concession Number 1
*Produce raised by each family during the year, and estimated in Winchester Bushels.

1 J.M. Robinson, 1842 Census, Canada West, Carleton County (Ottawa: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2000).

Albert Austin Massey: Home Child

Albert Austin Massey was born in London, England about 1884,* the son of Thomas Massey and Mary Armitage (his parents’ names come from his RC parish marriage record, and also from the Ontario civil marriage record which was based on that parish register). He emigrated to Canada around 1895 (at about 10 or 11 years of age), where he ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario.

On 4 July 1900, at the Church of St Anne, Sebastopol, Renfrew Co. (record found in the parish register for Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell), Albert Massey made his Confirmation, at which point he was described as “adopted by Frank Kilby,” age 13. He is found in the household of Francis Kilby in the 1901 Canadian census (Ontario, Renfrew South/Sud, Sebastopol, household number 39, pages 5-6), where he is listed as Massey, Albert, Male, Domestic, Single, born 2 Aug 1886, age 14, country of birth England, year of immigration 1895, racial or tribal origin English (the other members of this household are Irish in origin), nationality Canadian, religion R. Cath. [Roman Catholic], occupation Servant. Next door to the Kilby household, or next field over, perhaps, or very close by, at any rate, at household number 40, was the family of William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong.
Albert Massey married the above Lucy Armstrong on 6 May 1909 (Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell).

Brennan-Connelly Query

On 12 February 1870 (Ste. Anne, Calumet Island/l’Île du Grand Calumet, Pontiac Co., Québec) Thomas Brennan, son of Patrick Brennan and Matilda Shirley, married Susanna Connelly, daughter of John Connelly and Ellen Cahill. This couple then seems to disappear from the Canadian records. Did they emigrate to Leadville, Colorado?

The 1880 US federal census for Leadville, Lake, Colorado has a T.W. Brennan (age 37, born Canada), with wife Susan (age 33, born Canada), and children Shirley [male], Delacey, Mary, D. [?] and Margaret. The names Shirley and Delacey (here given as first names) are surnames found in the family trees of Thomas Brennan and Susanna Connelly, respectively.

Irish Origins through Canadian Sources: Introduction

On my father’s side, all of my ancestors came from Ireland, some arriving in Canada as early as 1820 or so, some arriving during the Famine. On my mother’s side, a little over half of my ancestors came from Ireland, with all but one branch emigrating during the Famine (the other almost half of my maternal ancestors are French Canadian).

So that’s a lot of Irish ancestors, and they came from the north and the west and the south and the southwest of Ireland (though not, so far as I have yet to discover, from the east). Once in Canada, they tended to marry as one Irish Catholic joining up with another, which probably tended toward the construction of a new, colonial Irish identity (back in Ireland, they never would have met one another, let alone married, since one came from Armagh, and another from Cork, and so on and so forth: but in Canada, they were all the same people who all came from the same place). When I was a kid, come to think of it, “The Wild Colonial Boy” was a song that I and my sisters used to sing for the company, it was something of a party piece for us, which we had learned from a couple of uncles. That song has to do with Irish emigration to Australia not Canada, of course, but I think the colonial theme resonated with us, or at least with our uncles.