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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Census Part 1 and Part 2 by Doris Bourrie, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Locating an Individual in a Large City
Special preliminary research is needed to locate a person living in one of the larger cities. This is especially important in the later census periods when the population had increased, and the enumeration for one ward in a large city might cover many pages on a reel of film, or may even extend beyond one reel of microfilm. Obviously any preliminary research that might narrow your search will be worthwhile. In this case it is helpful if the family can be located in a contemporary directory, giving the researcher the exact street address for the family.
Most city directories have a street index, as well as a personal name index. By looking at the street index you can determine which ward contains the street you need. Some directories will indicate which ward a certain street is located in, but often a street will continue across ward boundaries.
Make a note of the cross streets each side of your address, to help pinpoint the location. Also make a note of whether the house is on the east or west side of the street, or on the north or south side of the street.
Ward boundaries were usually considered to run down the middle of a road, and if your particular street happened to be the boundary line for that ward, then the ward in which your family was enumerated will depend on whether they lived on the east or west side of the street, or possibly on the north or south side of the street.
Streets may also run through more than one ward, and so knowing the cross streets on either side of your family’s home will enable you to determine which ward you need to search. If a city street map showing ward boundaries is available, this should be consulted to determine exactly where the house was situated.
Example: Steps in locating the family of George Gill in the 1881 census for the city of Montréal, Québec
- The first step is to determine all addresses listed for a George Gill in 1881 in the city of Montréal. If the name you are researching is a common one, you may find several possible entries for that name, and all the possibilities must be traced in census records to identify the individual you want to locate.
- If you know an approximate location in the city (possibly one of the addresses listed is near someone that you know is related), or if you can narrow your search because you know the occupation of George Gill, this may eliminate some of the “possible” entries on your list. Remember to cross-reference the personal entry with the street address entry, and note the ward, if given, the cross streets on either side of the address you need, and on which side of the street the house is located. Keep in mind that a directory published for 1881 may have been compiled in 1880, for printing in 1881. If possible, examine directories covering 2 or 3 years, in case the family moved during the census period.
- The listing for George Gill, found in the 1881 Montréal directory,Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, Fiche 37056 indicated he was a sawmaker, living at 201 Anne, St. Anne’s Ward. The street listing for Anne Street indicated George Gill at 206 Anne Street, and the listing indicated that Anne Street runs from the corner of Common & Colborne north to 153 William, in St. Anne’s Ward. Goad’s wall map of the City of Montréal, published October, 1890 indicates ward boundaries, and Anne Street is located in the south-east part of St. Anne’s Ward.
- The census reel for St. Anne’s Ward/Quartier St. Anne is on reel C13217. The family of George Gill was located in Division A-9 of St. Anne’s Ward, on page 45 of the publication.
Without knowing a street address for George Gill, and cross-referencing that address to the proper ward location, a search of five reels of film would be required to locate George Gill in the city of Montréal in 1881. The example for locating Rev. John A. Turnbull in the 1901 census, City of Toronto, illustrates how to use the street address of an individual to determine the appropriate ward. By searching Schedule 2 of the proper ward for that street address you can cross-reference page and line number in Column 1, and jump immediately to the entry for your individual in Schedule 1.
The 1901 census, as explained previously, includes Schedule 2 “Buildings and Lands, Churches and Schools”, and then Schedule 1, “Nominal Return of Living Persons” for each polling sub-division. Again, the researcher will need to consult a contemporary city directory to determine the street address of the individual.
Example: Rev. John A. Turnbull, City of Toronto, Ontario in the 1901 census
Upon consulting a 1901 directory for the City of Toronto the researcher will learn that Rev. John A. Turnbull lived at 316 Bathurst Street. On checking the street index it is learned that no. 316 Bathurst Street is located on the west side of Bathurst Street, between Arthur and Robinson Street. Bathurst Street is the dividing line between Wards 4 and 5. Because the house is located on the west side of Bathurst Street, it falls in Ward 5.
A guide to the boundaries of Ward 5 indicates that this address falls within Division 1 of Ward 5. The census for Division 1 of Ward 5 is found in Sections C1-C12 on LAC film T-6500.
In this case, rather than searching through all the entries in Schedule 1 of Sections C1-C12 looking for John Turnbull, it is easier to search through Schedule 2 of Sections C1-C12, looking for entries for Bathurst Street located in Column 2. Check each Bathurst Street entry until one is located for 316 Bathurst Street.
Note the page and line number indicated in Column 1, and forward the microfilm to that page number in Schedule 1 for the proper C section, and you will find your person.
Schedule 2 for John A. Turnbull, Bathurst Street, Toronto
In this example, you would check each Bathurst Street entry until one is located for 316 Bathurst Street. (we have cut out the entries from line 2 to line 44 for reproduction purposes.) The entry in column 1 for 316 Bathurst Street indicates it refers to page 10, line 28.
316 Bathurst Street, 1901 Census of Canada, Schedule No. 2—Buildings and lands, churches and schools, Ontario, Toronto West (City), (district 118), Ward 5 (sub-district C-11), page 10, line 45; microfilm T-6500, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
Schedule 1 for John A. Turnbull, Bathurst Street, Toronto
The entry in column 1 for 316 Bathurst Street indicates it refers to page 10, line 28. On going to page 10, line 28 in Schedule 1 of Section C-11 you will find the entry for John A. Turnbull.
John A. Turnbull household, 1901 Census of Canada, Ontario, Toronto West (City) (district 118), Ward 5 (sub-district C-11), page 10, line 28; microfilm T-6500, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
- ↑ The Canadian Institute for Historical Micro-reproductions (commonly known as CIHM) was established by the Canada Council in 1978. One of the objectives of the Institute was to provide better access to early Canadiana material published up to 1900. This collection is available in many large libraries on microfiche, and includes many items of interest to genealogists, including early directories, gazetteers, etc.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian Census Part 1 and Part 2 offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
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