An estimated half of all Canadians will have an ancestor in the
historical censuses / one in four Canadians cannot trace roots back
beyond their grandparents
- 32 million names and 1.3 million images of original records
- Famous names with ancestors in the censuses include Conrad Black,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff,
Pamela Anderson and Alanis Morissette - original images available
TORONTO, June 10 /CNW/ - Ancestry.ca, in partnership with Library and
Archives Canada (LAC), today completed the world-first online launch of the
Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916. Never before have all of the nine
available national censuses(1) been published online, fully indexed and
including original document images.
Together, these censuses contain more than 32 million names - all
searchable for the first time - of those living in Canada from the mid 19th
century through to the early 20th century - a period of nationhood, new
arrivals, great change and significant growth.
It is estimated that half of all living Canadians (16 million people)(2)
will be able to trace their ancestors in the censuses - Ancestry.ca has found
those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff,
jailed businessman Conrad Black, singer Alanis Morissette and actress Pamela
Anderson (original images available).
So what is a Canadian? Canadians have been asking themselves this very
question for as long as we have existed as a country.
A recent national online survey(3) showed that 74 per cent of Canadians
consider themselves 'Canadian' first and foremost yet more than half of all
Canadians still identify with a nationality other than Canadian. Furthermore,
a quarter cannot trace their ancestors back more than 50 years (beyond their
grandparents), and just 16 per cent can trace their ancestors back more than
150 years (five generations).
The good news is that despite this lack of general knowledge, 85 per cent
indicated that they were keen to learn more about their family history. With a
one in two chance of finding ancestors in the Historical Canadian Censuses,
1851-1916, the originals of which are held by LAC, Ancestry.ca expects the
collection to explode interest for family history in Canada.
Digitizing and indexing the nine censuses, which contain a range of
information about individuals, families and residents living at a particular
address, took an estimated 600,000 man hours to complete (the equivalent of a
person working 24 hours a day, seven days a week for approximately 70 years).
Making all the historical censuses available and fully searchable online
will enable both new and advanced family history researchers to learn more
about all members of a given household including family, lodgers and 'the
help', on the day that census was taken.
For many, this will mean having first-time access to vital information to
help them search and map their personal history: of family members, their
ages, occupations, religions, native tongue and ethnicity, addresses and house
type, parents' birth place where applicable, and immigration year and military
service (in selected censuses) at both given and multiple points in time.
Given the richness of the information they contain, censuses are
considered the 'backbone' of family history research, representing both a
comprehensive starting point and a vital guide for researchers by providing
further clues on other record sets such as birth, marriage, death, military
and immigrations records, which may also contain information about their
In making this collection available online, many Canadians who are
interested in knowing more about their family history but who simply don't
know where or how to get started may now be inspired to do so.
The Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916 contain records from the
ancestors of present day politicians, business moguls, actors, movie directors
and athletes. These prominent names have roots firmly planted in Canadian
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper - Harper's grandfather Harris Harper is
found in the 1911 Census as an 8-year-old boy living in Westmoreland,
Ontario with his parents Joseph and Agatha. His father is listed as a
- Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff - The Liberal Leader spent many years
working in the United States and UK, but his roots are firmly
Canadian. The 1881 Census lists his maternal grandfather William L.
Grant as an 8-year-old boy living in Kingston, Ontario with his
parents George and Jessie. Michael's great-grandfather George is
listed as the Principal of Queen's University.
- Conrad Black - Quite fittingly, Black comes from a family of
businessmen. His grandfather George Black is listed in the 1916 Census
as a 5-year-old living with his parents, George Senior, who is listed
as a financial agent, and mother Margaret. The family lived in some
comfort with three servants listed as members of their household.
- Alanis Morissette - The Canadian songstress' great-grandmother Noellah
McConnell can be found in the 1901 Census living in Nipissing,
Ontario. She is enumerated as Luella, aged 10, with her date of birth
listed as December 25, 1890. Noellah's father Erie is listed as a
- Pamela Anderson - Anderson, arguably Canada's most famous blond, has
Finnish origins - her great-grandfather Juho Hyytiainen arrived from
Finland in 1908. Having anglicised his name, Juho appears in the 1911
Census as Herman Anderson. He is listed as a miner living in New
Josh Hanna, Senior VP, Ancestry.ca, comments: "Canada's early censuses
are among its most valuable historical documents, providing a broad snapshot
of life in a particular place and time as well as detailed accounts of the
lives of millions of individual Canadians during a period of change, growth
"Ancestry.ca's partnership with LAC has ensured the digitization of these
vital records and will enable millions of Canadians, not to mention countless
others around the world in countries such as the UK, France and the US, to
access the records online for the first time and search for their family."
Familysearch International also worked on this ambitious project to
deliver the images and indexes for the 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1916 Censuses.
The Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916 are now available to Canada
and World Deluxe members and through a 14-day free trial and can be viewed at
Ancestry.ca was launched in January 2006 and has 425 million Canadian
names in such collections as the Historical Canadian Censuses, 1851-1916,
Ontario and British Columbia vital records from as early as 1813, Quebec vital
records (The Drouin Collection), 1621-1957, Canadian Passenger Lists,
1865-1935, and U.S./Canada Border Crossings, 1895 -1956.
Ancestry.ca is part of the global network of Ancestry websites (wholly
owned by The Generations Network, Inc.), which contains eight billion names in
28,000 historical record collections. To date more than 10.5 million family
trees have been created and one billion names and 19 million photographs
uploaded. 8.7 million unique visitors logged on to an Ancestry website in
April 2009 (comScore, April 2009).
The Ancestry global network of family history websites - www.ancestry.ca
in Canada, www.ancestry.com in the US, www.ancestry.co.uk in the UK,
www.ancestry.com.au in Australia, www.ancestry.de in Germany, www.ancestry.it
in Italy, www.ancestry.fr in France, www.ancestry.se in Sweden and
www.jiapu.com in China.
ABOUT LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA
The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary
heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations and to be
a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the
cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives
Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the
acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the
continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
The Canadian Genealogy Centre (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/)
includes all physical and online genealogical services of Library and Archives
Canada. It offers genealogical content, services, advice, research tools and
opportunities to work on joint projects, all in both official languages.
(1) Due to Canadian privacy laws, no Canadian census may be made public
until 92 years after it has been commissioned therefore the 1916 Census
of Canada is the latest to be made publicly available. 1851 marks the
first time a comprehensive census of the Canadian population was taken.
(2) Using Statistics Canada data, the cumulative immigrant population
post 1916 was mapped, including births within this population. This was
then subtracted from the current population to give the number of
Canadians who descend from the eight million people living in Canada in
1916 (approximately 16 million).
(3) MarketTools online survey of 1,000+ Canadians, commissioned April,
For further information:
For further information: interviews/images/case studies: Media Profile,
Patrick Erlich, Jeri Brown, (416) 318-3821, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Library and Archives Canada, Richard Provencher,
Chief, Media Relations, (819) 994-6030, email@example.com