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March 3, 2011

Ancestry Goof with 1861 Canadian Census

Agricultural Census returns are often overlooked by genealogists. Agricultural returns provide information such as lot and concession number, acreage, livestock and agricultural products.

In the Canadian 1851 and 1861 Census, the agricultural returns are listed by the name of the head-of-household. The agricultural returns for 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 were not kept. has the 1861 Agricultural portion of the census online. That's the good news! You can search for an ancestor in it by including the keyword "AGRICULTURAL" in the search fields.

The bad news is that only half of each page has been scanned. The 1861 Agricultural return consists of 69 columns ranging in data from Lot and Concession Number to number of acres cultivated, planted, woods etc to how many acres and bushels of various crops (wheat, barley, rye, potatoes and so on) your ancestor planted and harvested to questions about his livestock - what he has, how old they are worth.

These columns are listed on two pages in a ledger book - so we have a left side and a right side (two facing pages in the book). But Ancestry has only scanned and put online the questions and answers from the left side! So the questions (and answers) end at #38.

This is  aggravating as the agricultural census allows researchers to add so much interesting detail to an ancestor. You can build a really good image of your ancestor working his farm and tending his crops and animals. I found out that my ancestor Levi Peer, had many hives of bees. I presume he obtained honey for cooking and for his children - perhaps even to sell to neighbours.

Here is the complete list of questions on the 1861 Agricultural Census. Wouldn't it be great to see both pages on If we all report this oversight to Ancestry perhaps they will add the missing pages.


GeniAus said...

I am not surprised. The transcriptions for Australian BDMs were riddled with errors.
See my blog post and comments

FranE said...

Good to know. Glad you are feeling better

JukeboxLinda said...

Unfortunately it's not just this census set that Ancestry only scanned the left side of the ledger. I've encountered this issue with many Ontario birth, marriages and deaths.
But I guess half the info is better than none when multiple pages have been skipped for whatever reason.