Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census

Counting Canada by Dave Obee - book cover

Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census by Dave Obee (Victoria: 2012) gives genealogy and family history researchers ‘all the facts’ about Canada’s census from 1604 to 1931 and even beyond. The author is one of Canada’s most experienced researchers and the author of several other books on related topics, including Canadian directories, voters’ lists and immigration records.

In this book, along with a census timeline, he’s included chapters on each Canadian census, including representative questions asked, and information about census legislation and administration – even  how confused instructions and then the weather affected the 1861 enumeration in Lower and Upper Canada, for instance.

Throughout are the best tips and strategies for searching for ancestors in the Canadian census – whether on film, paper, or on-line – all nicely illustrated with photographs, maps, even cartoons, and census entry examples for famous Canadians like Chief Dan George, and others far less well known, like Walt Disney’s paternal ancestors.

The chapters entitled “De jure or de facto” and “Why aren’t they there?” explain the more frustrating errors and omissions census researchers may come across including the use of the [dreaded] ‘ditto’, and some misunderstandings and practices that happily resulted in additional details being listed for some individuals. The “Supplementary Sources” chapter will assist researchers in following up on census details or ‘missing’ individuals in other records, like voters’ lists and directories.

An attractive book of 220 pages with a bibliography, index and a list of useful Internet sites, Dave Obee’s Counting Canada will be a handy addition to all Canadian researchers’ bookshelves. Available now from the BCGS Boutique. ($30.00) at meetings and events, or by contacting the BCGS Boutique Chairperson, Cathy Magee.

Reviewed for the BCGS website by BCGS Editor, M. Diane Rogers, July 2012.