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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 Rural Census
To locate an individual in a rural area, the name of the township should be known. For the 1851, 1861 and 1871, 1901 census, as well as the 1911 census, the geographical location of the individual may also be determined within the township. This is accomplished in various ways, depending on the census year consulted.
Example for 1851 rural census:
The 1851 census includes an agricultural census listing at the end of each township. You may locate your individual in the personal census enumeration, and then search for his entry in the agricultural census for that township. The personal census indicates personal information regarding the family members, while the agricultural census will indicate concession and lot number of property, and agricultural statistics.
In some cases this method will not work, if all or part of the agricultural census for your township is missing. However, there is a way to partially overcome this problem.
The 1851 census for Blenheim Township, Oxford County is found on LAC film C-11745. The film leader at the beginning of the reel indicates that Blenheim Township was enumerated in 2 parts, and also indicates that the agricultural census Part II for Blenheim Township is missing.
The information given at the top of each page of Part I indicates: Personal Census Enumeration, District No.1, Twp. of Blenheim, in the County of Oxford, Comprising 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Concessions of the said township.
The information given at the top of each page for Part II indicates: Personal Census Enumeration, District No. 2, Twp. of Blenheim, in the County of Oxford, Comprising the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Concessions. (Those words indicated in bold print were added by the enumerator to complete the printed information at the top of the pages for these two portions. These titles were on the wider part of the form and are not shown on the example). Census Records Microfilm Leader for Oxford County, Canada West.
The entry for the family of Thomas Taylor is located on printed page No. 193 located in Part II of this township. As no agricultural census for Part II of Blenheim township has survived, it is not possible to locate Thomas Taylor in the agricultural portion of this census in order to determine where his property was located. However, because he was enumerated in Part II of the personal census, we know that he lived somewhere between the 8th and 14th concessions of the township. This information will be useful in locating his land records, even though the agricultural census was missing.
Example for 1861 rural census:
The agricultural section of the 1861 census was also conducted by township, and all entries for a county are usually found at the end of the personal census records for the whole county. Generally, these agricultural pages are listed by township, and you would consult your township pages to locate your family. The township agricultural schedules were not necessarily filmed in the same order as the township personal schedules, and sometimes an enumerator failed to write the name of the township at the top of his pages. The Library and Archives Canada finding aid suggests that the researcher search the agricultural section for the entire county, as some pages may not be in the proper order.
Example for 1871 rural census:
Because all 9 schedules of the 1871 census were preserved, this is the most complete census record available to researchers. Once the family is located in Schedule 1 “Nominal return of the living”, this information may be easily used to determine the rural location of the family in Schedule 4 “Return of cultivated land, of field products and of plants and fruits”, or what we commonly refer to as the agricultural schedule.
To determine if Felix Keenan owned land in Kingston township, locate Schedule No. 4, Return of cultivated land, or field products and of plants and fruits, for Sub-District A3, Kingston township. The first column of Schedule 4 is entitled “Reference to Schedule 1”, and is divided into two subheadings, Page and Line. Look down this column on each page until you locate the entry for page 23, line 9, the entry number for Felix Keenan as located in Schedule No. 1. This one-line entry applies to the family of Felix Keenan and indicates that he is the owner of 50 acres, Concession 5, lot 34 of Kingston township, and gives his agricultural return. With this information it is now possible to trace land records for this family.
To determine if Felix Keenan owned land in Kingston township, locate Schedule No. 4, Return of cultivated land, or field products and of plants and fruits, for Sub-District A3, Kingston township. The first column of Schedule 4 is entitled “Reference to Schedule 1”, and is divided into two subheadings, Page and Line.
Look down this column on each page until you locate the entry for page 23, line 9, then entry number for Felix Keenan as located in Schedule No. 1. This one-line entry applies to the family of Felix Keenan and indicates that he is the owner of 50 acres, Concession 5, lot 34 of Kingston township, and gives his agriculture return. With this information it is now possible to trace land records for this family.
This same method may be used to relate Felix Keenan to any of the other schedules contained in this census. Conversely, if you already know that Felix Keenan was located on a farm on lot 34, Concession 5 of Kingston township, you could first consult Schedule 4 under the heading Concession and Lot, until you found the proper concession and lot number. By checking the first column for that entry you can then refer to the appropriate page and line number of Schedule 1 to locate Felix Keenan. If more than one family lived on the lot, you would need to make a note of all the page and line numbers, and check these for your family.
The 1871 census for all of the province of Ontario has been indexed (we will discuss this census indexing project further in the next module) but the above method is useful if you do not have access to the index, or if you are working with the 1871 census for a different province.
There is no agricultural schedule available for the 1881 and 1891 census records. For these years it is necessary to search the appropriate township for your family, and to consult contemporary farmers’ directories for an indication of agricultural holdings.
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 email@example.com
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
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