Volunteers Discover Fun Facts Transcribing Historic Canadian Censuses

A FamilySearch News Release:

Volunteers Discover Fun Facts Transcribing Historic Canadian Censuses
Completed Indexes Will Be Free Online

Ontario, Canada—FamilySearch International announced its plans to make the indexes to available Canadian censuses accessible online for free with the help of online volunteer indexers and an agreement with Ancestry.ca. The first censuses completed will be those from 1861, 1871, and 1916. Online volunteers are needed to help transcribe select information from digital images of the historical documents into easily searchable indexes. The completed indexes will be available for free at www.familysearch.org.

Famous Canadians in the 1916 Census
What do Art Linkletter, Sir William Samuel Stephenson, and Elvina Fay Wray have in common? They all have ties to one of the three provinces that make up the 1916 Canada Census, and some lucky volunteer may experience the thrill of transcribing their information for the free online index.

1. Arthur Gordon Kelly (Art Linkletter) will be found as a four-year-old child at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He was abandoned as an infant and then adopted and raised by a preacher. He hosted House Party and People Are Funny both on radio and later on newfangled television, and he is best remembered for his interviews with children on the television show Kids Say the Darndest Things. His adoptive parents were Fulton John Linkletter and Mary Metzler.

2. Sir William Samuel Stephenson was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessman, inventor, spymaster, and a British intelligence specialist during World War II. Stephenson is best known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid and is considered by some to be one of the real-life inspirations for James Bond. He was born William Samuel Clouston Stanger, January 23, 1897, in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

3. Elvina Fay Wray was born September 15, 1907, on a ranch near Alberta to Elvina Marguerite Jones and Joseph Heber Wray and will most likely show up as a nine-year old-child in the 1916 census. She made her film debut in Gasoline Love (1923), but it was her lead role in The Wedding March (1928) that made her a star. She became a cult figure after her role in King Kong (1933), as the beauty captured by a giant gorilla.

Getting Involved
Interested volunteers can begin helping immediately by registering online at familysearchindexing.org, downloading the free indexing software, and selecting the 1916 Canada Census project. A digital image of a census page will appear. Volunteers simply type in the data highlighted on the computer screen and save it online. It takes about 30 minutes to complete one census page, and volunteers have a week to complete it if need be. Volunteers only need to be able to read, type, and have Internet access to participate.

“The 1916 census was selected first because it is the most recent and smallest of the three censuses targeted in the first phase. It included three of the western provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta) and has about 1.7 million names—so it will not take long to complete,” said Stephen Young, FamilySearch project manager.

There are other hidden benefits to volunteering. Volunteers become familiar with historical documents, the valuable stories they can conceal, and their usefulness and application to genealogical research.

Indexers do not need to worry about their skill level at reading censuses. Each census page is transcribed by two different indexers. Any discrepancies between the two entries will be arbitrated by a third indexer. The result is a highly accurate, free index of tremendous value to family history enthusiasts. Young says the more online volunteers that help, the quicker the free census indexes will be available online for all to enjoy and benefit from.

One indexer recently commented, “I am intrigued with how the people come alive for me as I index. I indexed a household . . . containing a family with young children, grandmother, maiden aunt, and a couple of unmarried siblings. They had five servants, and I visualized a well-to-do household; the married son working maybe as a lawyer or doctor, taking care of his extended family. I see both sad and happy stories.”

FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical records worldwide. In 2007 it announced plans to begin digitizing and indexing its collection for broader, online access—starting with popular collections like Canadian censuses. FamilySearch has digitized the 1916 Canada Census and is seeking online volunteers to help create a searchable index for it and other census and non-census Canada projects. The 1861 and 1871 censuses will be next.

Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC) owns and is providing the digital images for the Canada census projects.

1881 Canadian Census Images and Index Launched Online at the Library of Canada

courtesy 3DFlags

In all the excitement of preparing for the Summer 2008 Genea-Blogger Group Games, I noticed a few blog announcements that the Library of Canada has launched the 1881 Canadian Census with index AND images!

With numerous ancestors and relatives appearing in this census, it’s taking a lot of self-control not to wander over there while I’m trying to finish up the Opening Ceremonies post! 🙂

Daniel J. MacARTHUR and Martha JOHNSON


Source: MacArthur, Daniel J. and Martha Johnson. Photograph. C. 1863. Original photograph believed to be in the possession of Nancy Masten Peugh, Manton, Michigan. 1999.

This is one of my paternal 3rd-great-grandparent couples, Daniel J. MacARTHUR and his wife, Martha JOHNSON. Daniel was born 7 June 1827 in Glengarry Co., Ontario, Canada to first-generation Canadians of Scottish descent. Martha was born 20 October 1844 in Ingham Co., Michigan. Her mother’s family, the MASSEYs, brings the only ancestry located south of the Mason-Dixon line to my family tree, from Kent Co., Maryland. This photograph may have been Daniel and Martha’s wedding portrait. They were married 27 February 1863, probably in Montcalm Co., Michigan. However, it appears that Martha may be with child, and it is know that their eldest son, Henry A. McARTHUR, was born 11 December 1865 in Clinton Co., Michigan. Since Daniel was serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, it may be that they did not get an opportunity to have a photograph taken until the war was over.

Besides Henry, who died in 1944, Daniel and Martha had six other children: Daniel Thomas (1867 – 1945); Catherine A. “Kate” (1869 – 1956); George Clinton “Clint” (1871 – 1936); my ancestor Mary E. “Mae” (1875 – 1959); William Edward “Will” (1880 – 1973); and Arlie Mae McARTHUR (1884 – 1971).

Daniel served in Company I of the 1st Regiment of Berdan’s Sharpshooters out of Michigan. Near the close of the war, he was furloughed due to illness and sent home to recuperate. During that time the war ended, and for whatever reason either he did not report back to his unit or no record was made or kept of his return. At any rate, when he later applied for a veteran’s pension, he was denied, although he appealed unsuccessfully several times.

Daniel and his wife and family lived all over the lower peninsula of Michigan, from the northwest to the southeast and every county in between, it seems. I’m still putting together a timeline to show his many residences in chronological order for my research purposes. For most of his life, his occupation was listed as a farmer, except for the time when he was listed as a shoemaker on his daughter Kate’s birth record. Martha died in 1897, and Daniel outlived her by 22 years. Although he married late in life (age 35), he lived long enough to see some of his great-grandchildren. He and Martha are buried in the Phillips/Danley/Hill Cemetery, Fulton Twp., Gratiot Co., Michigan.

Daniel J. MacARTHUR and Martha JOHNSON


Source: MacArthur, Daniel J. and Martha Johnson. Photograph. C. 1863. Original photograph believed to be in the possession of Nancy Masten Peugh, Manton, Michigan. 1999.

This is one of my paternal 3rd-great-grandparent couples, Daniel J. MacARTHUR and his wife, Martha JOHNSON. Daniel was born 7 June 1827 in Glengarry Co., Ontario, Canada to first-generation Canadians of Scottish descent. Martha was born 20 October 1844 in Ingham Co., Michigan. Her mother’s family, the MASSEYs, brings the only ancestry located south of the Mason-Dixon line to my family tree, from Kent Co., Maryland. This photograph may have been Daniel and Martha’s wedding portrait. They were married 27 February 1863, probably in Montcalm Co., Michigan. However, it appears that Martha may be with child, and it is know that their eldest son, Henry A. McARTHUR, was born 11 December 1865 in Clinton Co., Michigan. Since Daniel was serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, it may be that they did not get an opportunity to have a photograph taken until the war was over.

Besides Henry, who died in 1944, Daniel and Martha had six other children: Daniel Thomas (1867 – 1945); Catherine A. “Kate” (1869 – 1956); George Clinton “Clint” (1871 – 1936); my ancestor Mary E. “Mae” (1875 – 1959); William Edward “Will” (1880 – 1973); and Arlie Mae McARTHUR (1884 – 1971).

Daniel served in Company I of the 1st Regiment of Berdan’s Sharpshooters out of Michigan. Near the close of the war, he was furloughed due to illness and sent home to recuperate. During that time the war ended, and for whatever reason either he did not report back to his unit or no record was made or kept of his return. At any rate, when he later applied for a veteran’s pension, he was denied, although he appealed unsuccessfully several times.

Daniel and his wife and family lived all over the lower peninsula of Michigan, from the northwest to the southeast and every county in between, it seems. I’m still putting together a timeline to show his many residences in chronological order for my research purposes. For most of his life, his occupation was listed as a farmer, except for the time when he was listed as a shoemaker on his daughter Kate’s birth record. Martha died in 1897, and Daniel outlived her by 22 years. Although he married late in life (age 35), he lived long enough to see some of his great-grandchildren. He and Martha are buried in the Phillips/Danley/Hill Cemetery, Fulton Twp., Gratiot Co., Michigan.

Locations of my (Scots) Irish Ancestors


I’ve been lucky enough to know the exact location where my SAYERS family originated in Ireland before they emigrated to Canada in the 1830s. Letterkenny is the largest town in County Donegal, in the province of Ulster, Ireland, and apparently was the home of many Ulster Scots. I’ve mentioned before that I really haven’t done much Irish research on my family, mainly because they lived in Ireland during a period of time for which it is difficult to access records, if they still exist. Many of the records that were kept when the SAYERS lived in Letterkenny were later destroyed, or are only accessed onsite.

I enjoyed reading through Wikipedia’s descriptions of the place names I mentioned above. I also did a Google image search for Letterkenny, Donegal and Ulster, and by clicking on these links, you should be able to see some beautiful images as well.

When the SAYERS family came to Canada in the mid-1830s (the family immigrated in several stages over the course of about five years), they settled in Prince Edward County (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island), Ontario, particularly Picton and Athol Township. Some of the siblings and cousins moved into Hungerford Township in Hastings County, while my direct line traveled further to Cavan Township in Durham County and Port Hope in Northumberland County. I’m still studying the rather complicated histories of the locations and residences in which this family lived, backtracking bit by bit over time. As more and more information is available online (I haven’t been able to find many resources for these areas at my local library), I’ve been able to educate myself further. There’s much more to learn, and I’ve been keeping myself occupied with researching these lines after they came to Michigan.

I’d love to have the opportunities to visit all these locations and see the places where my Irish immigrant ancestors lived, worked, and worshiped. Until then, I’ll be satisfied in being an armchair traveler using the amazing technology of the Internet!

Locations of my (Scots) Irish Ancestors


I’ve been lucky enough to know the exact location where my SAYERS family originated in Ireland before they emigrated to Canada in the 1830s. Letterkenny is the largest town in County Donegal, in the province of Ulster, Ireland, and apparently was the home of many Ulster Scots. I’ve mentioned before that I really haven’t done much Irish research on my family, mainly because they lived in Ireland during a period of time for which it is difficult to access records, if they still exist. Many of the records that were kept when the SAYERS lived in Letterkenny were later destroyed, or are only accessed onsite.

I enjoyed reading through Wikipedia’s descriptions of the place names I mentioned above. I also did a Google image search for Letterkenny, Donegal and Ulster, and by clicking on these links, you should be able to see some beautiful images as well.

When the SAYERS family came to Canada in the mid-1830s (the family immigrated in several stages over the course of about five years), they settled in Prince Edward County (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island), Ontario, particularly Picton and Athol Township. Some of the siblings and cousins moved into Hungerford Township in Hastings County, while my direct line traveled further to Cavan Township in Durham County and Port Hope in Northumberland County. I’m still studying the rather complicated histories of the locations and residences in which this family lived, backtracking bit by bit over time. As more and more information is available online (I haven’t been able to find many resources for these areas at my local library), I’ve been able to educate myself further. There’s much more to learn, and I’ve been keeping myself occupied with researching these lines after they came to Michigan.

I’d love to have the opportunities to visit all these locations and see the places where my Irish immigrant ancestors lived, worked, and worshiped. Until then, I’ll be satisfied in being an armchair traveler using the amazing technology of the Internet!

Meeting a SAYERS Cousin

A couple of weeks ago, I checked my old e-mail address at Juno. I had it for years, and when I switched to Gmail, decided against closing my Juno account, as I had done online genealogy for so many years using that e-mail address. Every few weeks or so, I’ll check on it, delete the piles of spam that have accumulated, and find a few messages from people that were unaware of my address change.

One such person was my cousin, Beverly (STRACHAN) STRONG, a fifth cousin, once removed and fellow descendant of William SAYERS, Sr. (1758 – 1860) and his wife, who we believe had the maiden name of GILLESPIE. Scots-Irish they were, from Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland. We know they had at least five children: William, Jr. (Bev’s ancestor); Catherine, who married Stephen MARTIN; Henry; Gillespie; and John (my ancestor). We know from a history of the Martin family that some of these Sayers children came from Ireland c. 1830 with a group to the Bay of Quinte and settled in what is now Prince Edward County (not to be confused with P.E. Island), Ontario, Canada. A year or so later, they sent for their widowed father along with wives and children they had left behind in Ireland. Imagine being around 80 years of age, leaving the only home you had known, and boarding a wooden ship in order traverse the stormy Atlantic! Perseverance and luck played out, and William, Senior lived to the ripe old age of 102 before passing away in 1860 in Hungerford Township, Hastings County, Ontario.

William’s descendants multiplied, as descendants will do, and today they can be found not only in Ontario, but in Alberta and British Columbia. Some of them crossed the border from Western Canada and resided in Western Washington. My particular ancestors, children of William’s son John, headed southwest from Prince Edward County and settled in Muskegon County, Michigan. I’ve done a great deal of research in Muskegon County vital and cemetery records and found all sorts of branches of the SAYERS and related families, piecing them together and adding them to the family tree that Bev had begun to build.

I connected to Bev years ago (I just checked my files and it was in 1997) through another SAYERS descendant, Marge (DAINARD) McARTHUR, who had seen my information online (probably on a message board) and had called me from B.C. to tell me there was a whole tribe of Sayerses out there! Bev and I, and Marge and I, began corresponding and sharing information in earnest, along with a few other Sayers descendants we picked up along the way. For a while, we had a Sayers Family Website at MyFamily.com that was fairly active, until it became a subscription site (no one wanted to pay the high cost of storing all the family photos on that site).

Bev (my dad’s age and generation) and her husband, Ron, were for years directors of their local Family History Center in Alberta. While volunteering there, she went through roll after roll of microfilmed Ontario vital records and extracted names, dates, and places not only of the SAYERS family life events, but also those of other Bay of Quinte ancestors she was researching (DAINARD, WANNAMAKER, WESSELS, McCAMON). She and Marge and quite a few of the Sayers are descendants of many pioneers of this colony; I am not. Bev, out of the kindness of her heart, looked up my WILKINSON surname and extracted what little she could find out of those microfilms for me (William, Senior’s granddaughter, Mahala Sayers, was my last Sayers ancestor, and she married John WILKINSON).

A few years ago, Ron and Bev applied to serve a mission for the LDS church, and fortune most certainly smiled upon them, for they were called to do a two-year mission at…the Family History Library in Salt Lake City!!! Now on leave, they are traveling around visiting family and friends, and it was Bev’s message in my Juno inbox that I found not long ago, asking if it would be an imposition if they dropped by on Labor Day. Of course I jumped at the chance of finally meeting her after 10 years of correspondence, and I’m so glad we did! What fun we had visiting! Their descriptions of serving in the FHL were truly amazing! The logistics of coordinating thousands of volunteers for the Family History Library and Church history archives must be staggering; yet the FHL runs like a well-oiled machine. As we covered everything from genealogy to the latest matter concerning Ancestry.com, we ended up discussing a topic we had in common: working with the disabled. It seems that the LDS Church accepts their developmentally impaired members for missions as well. Paired up with a non-disabled person, these missionaries are able to contribute to their community and church and help further the cause of genealogy. According to Ron and Bev, the library is also well-equipped to handle disabled patrons, no matter what their needs may be.

After visiting for a few hours, the Strongs took us out to dinner. We had an enjoyable meal together, then wished them well, as they continued their journey. Such a sweet and pleasant couple, so interesting and entertaining…it was nice to make new friends that were also family!