Finding Royalton: Searching the 1921 Census

By Julia McIntosh

For those of you wanting to learn more about searching the Census of Canada, this blog will give you some helpful tips and techniques to use in your own research.

Background

In my work at the reference desk, I received a question about the population data for Royalton, New Brunswick, specifically the number of males between the two World Wars, as the query related to recruitment. “A piece of cake,” I thought, “How difficult can it be?” As a librarian, I tend to head to the first appropriate published document. To my surprise, Royalton was too small to have been mentioned in any of the standard print sources, which focus on larger towns and cities rather than on small rural hamlets or unincorporated villages. It was time to rethink my search strategy.

Two censuses took place between the wars: 1921 and 1931. The former was preferred because it was already digitized and my client would be able to access the documents online (see the 1921 Census).

The Issues

The first issue was to find the exact location of Royalton, according to the census districts and sub-districts. For this, I had to find a contemporary map and compare it with the 1921 Census Districts and Sub-districts: New Brunswick. I also had to determine in which county and parish Royalton was situated and then determine the correct sub-district by the written description provided. Sadly, Internet map sites tend not to provide the county detail required, nor do they provide easy access to maps of the era. However, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick did just that. Their website told me that Royalton was “Located E of the New Brunswick and Maine border, 3.16 km SW of Knoxford: Wicklow Parish, Carleton County.”

Back to the census districts and sub-districts, I searched for Carleton, assuming that the district would be related to the county name. As we all know, assumptions can be problematic! The district was not under “C,” but “V”—District 48 – Victoria and Carleton. Who knew?

My trials and tribulations were not over, however. Complicating things, there were three sub-districts in Wicklow Parish, with nary a mention of Royalton:

  • Sub-district 11 Wicklow (Parish)
    “For all that portion of the Parish of Wicklow, north and east of the following described line: Beginning at the River Saint John at the Hugh Tweedie farm; thence west along the road known as the ‘Carr Road’ to the Greenfield Road, thence north along said Greenfield Road to the Summerfield Road; thence west along said Summerfield Road to the Knoxford Road, and thence northerly along said Knoxford Road and a prolongation of the same northerly to the line between Carleton and Victoria and to include all those who border on said roads.
  • Sub-district 12 Wicklow (Parish)
    “For all that part of the Parish of Wicklow, south and east of the following line, beginning at the River Saint John at Hugh Tweedie’s farm, thence west along the road known as the ‘Carr Road’to the Greenfield Road, south along said Greenfield Road to the south line of the Parish of Wicklow, and to include those bordering on said Greenfield Road, south of said ‘Carr Road.’”
  • Sub-district 13 Wicklow (Parish)
    “Beginning at a point where the Knoxford Road crosses the county line between Carleton and Victoria, thence running west along said county line until it reaches the American boundary line, thence south along said boundary line until it reaches the Parish of Wilmot, thence east along said Parish line until it reaches the Greenfield Road, thence north along the Greenfield Road until it reaches the Summerfield Road, leading from Summerfield to Knoxford Road, thence following the Summerfield Road west, until it reaches the Knoxford Road; thence north along the Knoxford Road to place of beginning.”

What map to use? As time was of the essence, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a 1921 Census map to be called up for me, so I checked our digitized map collection. The most current available was a Population map from the 1891 Census. At that time, Royalton was found in the Electoral District of Carleton. Hoping that not much had changed in 30 years, I compared the map with the written descriptions and deduced that Royalton was in Sub-district 13 – Wicklow (Parish). Worried that a map from 1895 might be too old, a subsequent check of the Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada, 1915 confirmed the Electoral District of Victoria and Carleton, but surprisingly, Royalton was missing. At least the county hadn’t changed its boundaries in the intervening years!

A black-and-white map of the Electoral District of Carleton, New Brunswick, with boundaries indicated in a thick red line.

Map of the Electoral District of Carleton (N.B.) taken from the Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada (1895) database. Original source is the Electoral atlas of the Dominion of Canada: according to the Redistribution Act of 1914 and the Amending Act of 1915 (AMICUS 2925818)

The second issue, the identification of those enumerated as living in the village of Royalton, should have been straightforward, but it quickly became evident that this also was going to be complicated. I went to the printed Volume I – Population of the Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, and found Table 8 – Population by Districts and Sub-districts. Under Victoria and Carleton, then Carleton County, I found Wicklow – population 1,689. However, there was no entry for Royalton under the heading Towns, nor was there a breakdown by sex. However, Table 16 – Population…classified by sex gave me the breakdown for Wicklow – 900 males and 789 females. This was definitely getting closer, but remember, Wicklow Parish has three sub-districts, of which no. 13 includes Royalton. I needed to get as close to the census numbers for the village as possible.

Results

My only option at this point was to consult the raw data collected for the census, which meant going to the digitized version of the 1921 Census on our website. A search by keywords Royalton and Province: New Brunswick gave zero results. However, Wicklow and Province: New Brunswick gave 1,600, which more or less tallied with the totals I had already found for the parish. The prospect of going through all those entries was daunting, to say the least.

Luckily, after opening a few pages and skipping around the document, I found a Title page for the enumerations of District 48, Sub-district 13, Wicklow Parish, pages 1-14. Success!

A handwritten title page in black ink, which reads: 1921, N.B. Dist. 48 Carleton, Sub. Dist. 13, Wicklow Parish. Pages 1–14.

Title page for the enumerations of Sub-district 13 – Wicklow Parish, District 48 – Carleton, New Brunswick, 1921 Census.

I still had the dilemma of the breakdown by sex, however. Even though the numbers would be smaller than for all of Wicklow Parish, it would still involve a fair amount of counting. Fortunately, the enumerator had tallied the numbers on the last page of the section for Sub-district 13, Wicklow:

Males – 340; Females – 316

Still hoping for the specific numbers for Royalton, I saw that column 5 on the form was titled “Municipality.” So, with happy expectations, I set out to do the smaller count.

Remember those trials and tribulations that dogged me previously? They hadn’t disappeared in my search for the specific Royalton population count. Royalton first appears on page 3, line 39 for Sub-district 13. The enumerator starts by indicating Royalton by name in the municipality column, but then crosses these entries out and replaces the name with Carleton, which, as we all know, is the county! Subsequently, and consistently, the enumerator enters Carleton as the municipality by page 4.

First page of Census of Canada, 1921 document showing the enumeration entries for Royalton.

Census of Canada, 1921, Province of New Brunswick, District no. 48, Sub-district no. 13. See column 5, Municipality for Royalton.

At this point, I conceded that I wasn’t going to find the number of males in Royalton and passed along the information to my client, who may have been able to further tease apart the specific information by family name.

For more information on searching the 1921 Census, have a look at the section entitled Issues about this census and the database. There are some very helpful tips about navigating from image to image.

Happy searching to all who may be on a quest to find their own Royalton!


Julia McIntosh is a Reference Librarian in the Reference Services Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Census of Canada, 1921 – Available to Researchers in the Next Few Weeks

Library and Archives Canada took custody of the Census of the Canadian population, 1921 from Statistics Canada, and is beginning work to make it discoverable for Canadians. Closed for 92 years under the Statistics Act to protect individuals’ private information, the census data is being indexed so it can be mined for historical and genealogical research as soon as possible.

Taken on June 1, 1921, the census contains a wealth of information available on more than 197,500 images. The almost 11,700 commissioners and enumerators recorded by hand nearly 8.8 million individuals in thousands of communities across the country. Census returns were geographically enumerated, that is to say according to a person’s residence and not by individuals’ names, in the order in which households were visited.

Information for the census was collected on the following five subjects: population; agriculture; animals, animal products, fruits not on farms; manufacturing and trading establishments; and supplemental questionnaire for persons who were blind and deaf. This represents a total of 565 questions. The population questionnaire contained only 35 questions.

Library and Archives Canada is committed to making the 1921 Census’ rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians, no matter where they live, in the next few weeks. Further details on the 1921 Census’ availability will be shared once they are available.

Canadians can continue to access censuses taken before 1921 through Library and Archives Canada’s Census Indexes webpage to learn more about their families and study Canada’s past. Census records are among the most often consulted resources on Library and Archives Canada’s website.

1921 Census countdown!

Census records are one of the most useful sources for genealogical research. They can help you discover when and where your ancestor was born, the occupations of a household’s members, what year an immigrant arrived in Canada and many other details.

Census returns were enumerated geographically (according to a person’s residence), not by an individual’s name. The information for each sub-district was recorded in the order in which the enumerator visited each household. Many genealogical societies and individuals transcribe and index census returns by name and make them accessible.

Our census indexes page provides you with helpful links to these indexes. Starting in 1851, a census for all of Canada was held every ten years, with the addition of a census specifically for the Prairie Provinces in 1906 and 1916.

Of course, genealogists and family historians are always eager to consult a new census and we have been receiving questions about the 1921 Census and when is it going to be available.

The 1921 Census of Canada

Census returns after 1916 are in the custody of Statistics Canada, not Library and Archives Canada. The records are closed under the Statistics Act and the Act to Amend the Statistics Act [www.parl.gc.ca/common/Bills_ls.asp?lang=E&Parl=38&Ses=1&ls=S18&source=Bills_Senate_Government]. Under the legislation, when 92 calendar years have elapsed since the taking of a census, those records will be opened for public use and transferred to Library and Archives Canada.

The 1921 Census was taken on June 1st, which means that it will be in the custody of Library and Archives Canada on June 1, 2013. Our intention is to make it available to researchers online, in the same format as previous censuses, as soon as possible after that date.

A few facts about the 1921 Census:

  • it was taken on June 1, 1921
  • it is the sixth comprehensive decennial census to be taken since the creation of the Dominion
  • there were five schedules with a total of 565 questions
  • 241 commissioners and 11,425 enumerators were employed
  • the most important growth of the population was in the prairie provinces with 47% since the 1911 Census
  • the overall population of Canada was 8,788,483 individuals

Share some of your research tips!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

UPDATE

Census of Canada, 1921 – Available to Researchers in the Next Few Weeks

Library and Archives Canada took custody of the Census of the Canadian population, 1921 from Statistics Canada, and is beginning work to make it discoverable for Canadians. Closed for 92 years under the Statistics Act to protect individuals’ private information, the census data is being indexed so it can be mined for historical and genealogical research as soon as possible.

Taken on June 1, 1921, the census contains a wealth of information available on more than 197,500 images. The almost 11,700 commissioners and enumerators recorded by hand nearly 8.8 million individuals in thousands of communities across the country. Census returns were geographically enumerated, that is to say according to a person’s residence and not by individuals’ names, in the order in which households were visited.

Information for the census was collected on the following five subjects: population; agriculture; animals, animal products, fruits not on farms; manufacturing and trading establishments; and supplemental questionnaire for persons who were blind and deaf. This represents a total of 565 questions. The population questionnaire contained only 35 questions.

Library and Archives Canada is committed to making the 1921 Census’ rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians, no matter where they live, in the next few weeks. Further details on the 1921 Census’ availability will be shared once they are available.

Canadians can continue to access censuses taken before 1921 through Library and Archives Canada’s Census Indexes webpage to learn more about their families and study Canada’s past. Census records are among the most often consulted resources on Library and Archives Canada’s website.

Summary of comments received in French up to September 30th, 2013

  • Many users asked when the 1921 census will be available online. LAC informed then that the official release date is June 1st, 2013. Afterwards, LAC will start the digitization of the census. The digitized images of the 1921 census were available to the public on August 7th, 2012 on the Ancestry.ca website.
  • A user asked if it will be possible to participate in the indexing process. LAC responded that multiple options were being explored.

Summary of comments received in French between April 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014

  • A client is unhappy about accessing the 1921 census through Ancestry.ca and agrees with previous commentators that this situation needs to be changed.
  • A client agrees with the previous commentator regarding the 1921 census.

Summary of comments received in French between October 1 and December 31, 2014

  • A client is unhappy that the Canadian and Ontario governments have allowed Ancestry to digitize the archives and asks whether Quebec will soon follow.
  • A client wants to know the meaning of a code in box 24 (other language) of the census and where they can find information about the codes. LAC responds: After the census was taken in 1921, codes were added by the statisticians to analyze the results. Unfortunately, the tables containing the significance of the codes were not kept. Only the code tables for professions were retained. Please contact our genealogy services by using the online form (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/assistance-request-form/Pages/assistance-request-form.aspx?requesttype=1) if you have questions about the profession codes.