Discover your inside story. Save 20% on Ancestry DNA April 21-26

June 11, 2009

Caveat re 1861 Canada Census Online

A source in the UK who has been doing her own transcription of the 1861 Toronto census, wrote to me to share a very interesting (but disturbing) problem with the new 1861 Canada census on

My correspondent states:

For the past few years I have been working on my own transcription of the Toronto Ontario census for 1861. When the index and film came online last night I was curious to have a look and found that I could browse the actual film pages.

I was surprised that only had 8390 images of Toronto, particularly when there were two pages for each folio or household. Thus, Ancestry appears to havecovered only 4195 households in Toronto.

In my inspection I came across one of the pages that the Library & Archives Canada (or its predecessor) used to introduce a ward. This lists the names of the wards and the number of folios used by each:-

St Andrew's 1111
St David's 1460
St George's 489
St James's 1413
St John's 1604
St Lawrence's 749
St Patrick's 1149

This totals 7975 folios.

This infers that at least 3780 households are missing, and since Ancestry has included the introductory and concluding pages around the wards and the divisions within the wards, this must be an under-estimate.

I have inspected provision sufficiently to know that the whole of St Lawrence's and St Patrick's Wards have been omitted. I am suspicious that a fair section of St Andrew's (divisions 2-4 inclusive) and St John's (divisions 5 and 6) are also missing, but I have not made a complete check on these as yet.


Dave said...

Has anyone brought this to Ancestry's attention?

The Grandmother Here said...

The thing about that irks me the most is that their transcribers know nothing about the local place names. People from East or West Nissouri are often listed as born in Missouri. Scream! [end of rant]

Thomas MacEntee said...

I will echo what The Grandmother Here has said - I have had many many transcription errors which come from outsourcing this type of work out to India and other locales. How can you possibly have a non-native speaker understand the need to view names in context if you are going to do this?

Janet Iles said...

Thanks for passing on this information. I wonder how many other places are incomplete?

maryc said...

My Loane family, St. Andrews - district 2, are on but they aren't in the Toronto section, but in the York County section. Is it possible that some of the Toronto pages are in with the York Co pages?

Anonymous said...

It's not just Toronto that is missing - I put my own ancestor's names into the search field and they did not appear....they were in Darlington Twp, Durham County - they are on the Township census that I have transcribed.

Anonymous said...

I live in the US. When I can't quite read a city name I Google it and usually get results.
This is bad enough, however your medical records are also being transcribed all over the world. I work in a hospital and you should see some of the transcription errors; frightening.

Paul Nauta said...

FamilySearch and are aware of the missing content from the 1861 Canada Census. The missing content is being addressed and will be added to the database within the next 90 days. Thank you for your support and vigilance.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Sher, it could be that your ancestors can't be found due to transcriber error rather than whole sections missing. Did you browse page by page through all the images for that area?

Genealogy Blogger said...

Thank you for posting Paula and letting readers know what is happening

Anonymous said...

The 1861 census was indexed by LDS volunteers on the RecordsSearch Pilot Site, so it might be of better quality than the usual Ancestry indexes.

Sher - try the RecordsSearch index first - it is more complete than the Ancestry index.
The family I was looking for is in St Patrick's Ward in the RecordsSearch index, but is not in the Ancestry index.

Paul - that's funny. When I they responded today to the support request I sent in on Wed asking about St. Patrick they never mentioned that they knew it was missing. They said:
"Thank you for your email and for taking the time to itemize the list of microfilm numbers. I will make sure our developers are aware of this.
Please note from the description of this database, "Note: Not all of the 1861 censuses have survived, so this database does not contain a complete representation of the above areas.
We are currently missing records for the townships of South Dumfries, Oakland, Tuscarora, and Onondaga, and the village of Paris in Brant County, Ontario. These records will be added in a future update."

Anonymous said...

About a year ago I let know that the 1880 census of Dist. 4, Beat 5, Henry Co., Alabama Enumeration Dist. 82 pages 22, 23 and 24 were missing. I was looking for my gg grandparents and couldn't find them. I knew that was were they were living and found all their married children surrounding them. So I did a page by page search and discovered those pages were missing. I still haven't heard from ancestry. I have been a subscriber to ancestry since 2000. That means in dollars they have received about $2000 just from me. You would think they would take better care of the people who put the bread and butter on their table.

Anonymous said...

I have also found large gaps in the 1861 transcription online. In my case it is in the township of Saltfleet (Stoney Creek). As of last week, only a small fraction of the total have been transcribed. The FamilyHistory and Ancestry sites are both similarly lacking.