Sunday, 3 March 2019

Flashback to My Ancestors in 1926


Census taker visits a Romani family living in a caravan, Netherlands 1925 from Wikipedia
Almost 93 years ago on June 1,1926,  a high of 12 degrees Celsius was recorded at Brandon but four days later a temperature of 25 degrees would have had my Manitoba ancestors working and playing in their shirt sleeves! Farmers all, they may have been annoyed at having to stop their daily activities to answer the questions of the visiting enumerator for the census but I am glad they complied!  Liberal William Lyon Mackenzie King was holding onto a minority federal government for just another month and Manitoba was led by premier John Bracken of the Progressive party. Hopes were high for another  large wheat harvest across the prairies and seeding would have been in full swing.

Back to present time - 2019 - my Twitter feed let me know that the database of the 1926 census of the 3 prairie provinces had just been released. Although the census was available earlier, there was no way to search for a particular name but you had to look page by page. Since 1871, a Canada-wide census has been held every 10 years. However, the population of the Prairie provinces was rapidly expanding, so there was a need for more frequent population counts in those provinces. It was decided to conduct a census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in June 1906 (in between the Canada-wide censuses), and every 10 years thereafter. The Statistics Act states that census returns will be transferred from Statistics Canada to Library and Archives Canada 92 years after a census has been taken so here we are.  The 1926 census database was created in partnership with FamilySearch where volunteer genealogists indexed the records to make them searchable.

Grandma Frances Milne is listed as 20 years old with her parents Alexander and Jean on 14-11-27 in the RM of Wallace with 3 of her brothers Alexander, Jim and Charlie and her sister Nan. The last 3 were noted as students.  The Milne’s are identified as Scottish with Alex immigrating in 1905 and Jean the next year.

Grandpa Frank Kinnaird would be married to Frances the next year but and in 1926  he is found as a 30 year old single man on the page before the Milnes. He lived at 1-11-27 in the RM of Wallace with his employee 48 year old Dave McMannus. A piece of information that I found interesting was that this census says both of Frank’s parents were born in Ireland when I believed they were born in Ontario. The census taker has indicated his racial origin is Irish. Hmmmm

Frank and Frances Kinnaird about 1927
Grandma and Grandpa Simms- Alexander and Mary Tait - are married and living on 15-14-22 with three of their children listed this way: Robt Alex (9), Doris Ellen (5) and Gwenny Elizth (2). Only a very few others on the page have middle names recorded by this enumerator (P.W. Thompson) so it makes me think it was Alex or Mary that gave the names that way. The surname is written "Sims" so evidently he was just writing what he heard.  The family was living in a small house built after the fire that destroyed their home on New Years Eve 1923. No doubt as they told Mr. Thompson the names of their children, they were thinking of Glenn James who had died at the age of two years old less than a year before.
Construction began on the Simms home a few months after the 1926 census was taken. 
 As seemed to be quite common in the area. Simms's have a labourer living with them of Polish origin named Joseph Bialas -19 years old and born in Manitoba. Neighbours on section 28, the Morcoms had a domestic living in their home, 17 year old Mary Bialas, perhaps the two were siblings or even a young married couple.
Above and left - Sinclair house and barn in the 1920's.

Mary Tait Simms's parents live on the next section #16, James and Elizabeth Sinclair with daughters Ellen (30) and Elizabeth(28) and son William(25). The year of immigration for James confirms he was an early prairie homesteader coming in 1883 from the Orkneys. His wife Elizabeth Henry was in Ontario much earlier, 1859 from Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland.


Irving Shadford who identifies as Irish and William Vanderbosh of Dutch origin are labourers in their twenties living at the Sinclair farm in June of 1926.  

I hope I have interested you enough to go back and peek in the windows of your ancestors' lives.  They are just a mouse click away!