The 1881 Canadian Census
By Ruby M. Cusack
Finally Saturday morning arrived. I was so excited as Mum had promised me that I could make a batch of Boston Drop cookies all by myself with no help from her.
With an apron tied around my waist and Mum’s scribbler recipe book in front of me on the kitchen table, I became a cook.
When I removed the cookie sheet from the oven, Mum commented, “They smell delicious.”
Just at that moment Cliff poked his head into the kitchen. I handed him one of my wonderful drop cookies.
To my surprise, he took one bite and immediately spit it into the sink with a moan of, “Salty!”.
Mum asked, “How much salt did the recipe call for?”
I looked in the tattered hand written cookbook and replied, “One or two cups.”
She smiled and explained 1 / 2 meant one half and the ‘t’ that I thought was a ‘c’ for ‘cup’ actually was a ‘t’ for teaspoon.
Way back in 1881, the census taker, who was called the enumerator was required to make all entries on the schedules in ink of good quality, and every name, word, figure or mark should be clear and legible.
These government instructions sounded great but it appears many of the enumerators did not have lessons in penmanship and neither did some of them have the spelling skills to properly record the surnames or possibly the householder who gave the information wasn’t at the top of the class in Spelling. Thus a century later, the transcribing by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of these written 1881 census documents concerning 4.3 million individuals of Canada was not an easy task.
The compiled information for the residents of the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the Northwest Territories was placed on three CDs. Included is the province, parish or ward, page and family number, sex, marital status, age, place of birth, occupation and religion for the members of each household. A really helpful feature is the capability to view the neighbours. In fact one can view every person in each ward or parish by just scrolling up or down the screen while using this neighbour feature.
A search can be done by surname for all of Canada or narrowed to a certain province, county or city, as well as by place or date of birth.
The 1881 Canadian Census CDs were compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To search the 1881 census or to order the CDs visit http://www.familysearch.org/ .
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Ruby is a genealogy buff. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at email@example.com. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.