The 1921 Census of Canada

There is a lot of excitement in the Canadian genealogy community right now, as Ancestry is about to release an index to the 1921 Census of Canada.  The digitized images have been available since summer, but you had to:

a)     have some idea of where your ancestors were living in 1921

b)     find out what district, sub-district that place was in at that time

c)     browse through the images, page by page, and decipher (sometimes illegible) handwriting to find the people you are looking for.

If you’re an addict, the above process is actually considered fun!

Luckily I knew that the Hogues and Girardins were still living in La Salle, Manitoba in 1921, so the process was not too time-consuming.

Hogue Thomas 1921 Census

The above snip (click to enlarge) shows Thomas Hogue and Emma (Girardin) Hogue with sons Joseph, Thomas (my Dad), Raymond, Aime, daughter Irene, son John, and daughter Louise.

Hogue Thomas Sr. 1921 Census

Next I found my great grandparents Thomas Hogue (way too many Thomases in my family!) and Philomene (McMillan) Hogue.  They were living outside La Salle with their son Louis and his family. Now, here’s an instance that shows census records can be wrong. Thomas claims his father was born in Quebec which is true, and his mother was born in Quebec, which is not.  His mother was Margaret Taylor and she was born in Manitoba at York Factory. Margaret was the first of my Métis ancestors that I discovered, and she will feature in many more posts.

Philomene claims her father was born in Scotland.  He wasn’t, he was born near Edmonton, but one of her grandfathers was born in Scotland. Philomene also claims her mother was born in France.  She wasn’t.  Her mother was also Métis, and born either in Rainy Lake near present day Fort Frances, Ontario or in Fort Alexander, Manitoba.

Why the discrepancies?  We can’t know for sure.  Perhaps it was a case of miscommunication between the enumerator and whoever in the household provided the information.  Perhaps whoever gave those answers really didn’t know the truth. It is also possible that at that particular time one didn’t proclaim Métis roots.

Girardin Napoleon 1921 Census

Now this last snip of a census record is very puzzling.  It shows a Napoleon Girardin (my great-grandfather), who is a 68 year-old widower and “chef” or head of the household, living in La Salle. Then it shows two of his sons, Telesphore and Florent.  Finally it shows a Girardin (father) as a 62 year-old widower who is the father of the head of the household!  Okay, we know for certain that can’t be right.  My best guess is that there were only 3 men in that household. Napoleon’s father died in 1878.  Napoleon had a son called Napoleon but he was married by then, and found elsewhere in the census.

As researchers learn, census records don’t always tell the truth!


Well, first thing this morning I was checking out the just-released index on and solved the problem of  the two Girardins.  I mentioned before that the census images can be hard to decipher.  That image was a great example.  Ancestry indexers interpret the last line as Girardin, Edward and have him as a “frère” or brother of Napoleon Girardin  That would work with the other information I have.  Napoleon did have a brother, Joseph Edouard, born 17 Jul 1858 in Quebec, who was separated from his wife at this time and could have been living in this household.

And as researchers learn, our information is always subject to further analysis!