Navigating the 1926 Census of the Prairie Provinces

Yesterday Gail Dever announced on her wonderful blog Genealogy à la carte that the 1926 Census of the Prairie Provinces was now available on FamilySearch for browsing. Canadian genealogists have been waiting anxiously for this census to be publicly released.  Many of us were involved in indexing this project on FamilySearch, so that the census can be made searchable. That is supposed to be happening in March.

However, the document on FamilySearch is NOT searchable yet.  It is only a series of digitized microfilms, divided by province.  I was too excited to wait to find Mémère and Pépère in La Salle, Manitoba.

There is no listing for the census districts and sub-districts of the 1926 Census yet, at least not one that I could find.  These titles and numbers can change as boundaries are redrawn, but I checked the 1921 census to make note of the fact that they were enumerated in Manitoba, Provencher, District 34, Sub-district 26, Municipality of Macdonald, La Salle Village. Then I checked the 1916 census which told me they were living in Township 8, Range 2, East of the meridian. That’s important to know and you’ll see why.

Back to the FamilySearch record which, as I mentioned, is a series of digitized films. I jumped around, clicking on the camera icon, to understand how the information was presented.

1926 list

Excerpt of FamilySearch catalogue record for Canada, Prairie Provinces Census, 1926

At the start of each film there is an index card, in beautiful, clear writing, that says which districts and townships were being enumerated on the next pages.

Index card

I discovered you could toggle between a specific page and the whole film by clicking on the icon on the left that looks like a grid. In this manner I was able to scan through the film, checking each index card along the way. I did some quick browsing and found the listings for Provencher but couldn’t find La Salle.

I remembered that even though the whole census isn’t released until 92 years after the fact!!!!!!! the statistical analysis of the population is released much sooner. I found the link to a pdf of The Census of Prairie Provinces, 1926 : population and agriculture, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta published by what we now call Stats Canada. I noticed on page 9 (image 209) that the Manitoba Electoral Districts were listed in a particular order, and had both a Provencher District and a Macdonald District.

Electoral districts

Page 4, image 209 from The Census of Prairie Provinces, 1926 : population and agriculture, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta

Aha! Back to the FamilySearch digitized microfilm, I chose the 4th film from the top, assuming the census may have been filmed in the same order as the statistics tables (which appears to be true). I was looking for the District of Macdonald this time. Still nothing, and everything was West of the meridian. So I moved up to the 3rd film and continued the process.

Voila! There they are, still Township 8, Range 2 E in the Village of La Salle, only now it’s called Macdonald District 4, sub-district 1.

It was almost a whole day of work, but such fun! Think I’ll wait for the search function next month before I look for anyone else.

FYI, if anyone is looking to do the same for Saskatchewan and Alberta, you can check  The Census of Prairie Provinces, 1926 : population and agriculture, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta for the list of districts. Saskatchewan is on page 217, image 419 and Alberta is on page 519, image 723.

Happy searching!

Constable Hogue

Manitoba Morning Free Press banner
108 years ago today, on January 13, 1908, on page 9 of the Manitoba Free Press, was this announcement:

The following recent appointments are announced in the current issue of the Manitoba Official Gazette:…Provincial constables…Thomas Hogue, jr. of La Salle.

Hogue Thomas b1879 constable1908

Manitoba Morning Free Press 13 Jan 1908

According to the La Salle local history book Then to Now, Pépère held this office until 1930. His gun and his handcuffs were handed down to two of his sons, Joe and Ray.

I’ve also found one other newspaper article, from the Manitoba Free Press, Wednesday, December 21, 1910, page 16:

Hogue Thomas b1879 article1910

Manitoba Free Press, 21 Dec 1910

There, just a short little story.  As mentioned in my previous post, I am concentrating on re-organizing my genealogy research.  When I realized the January 13th date of the announcement of the appointment…well, I just had to share!

The Girardins of La Salle, part 5

This is the last in a series of posts about Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings.

Florent Girardin was born August 25, 1892. He was 4 years old when his mother, Onesime Allard, died. He married Marie Louise Marcoux on November 9, 1921. They had 8 children, one of whom died at birth.

Florent was a member of the First Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment, during World War Two, but did not serve overseas.

Florent Girardin military service act 1917 particulars of recruit

Library and Archives Canada RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 – 80 Item Number:413891

He farmed in La Salle and later in St. Norbert, Manitoba.

There are a couple of pictures of him in the La Salle history book, Then to Now.  I won’t post pictures that I don’t own, or haven’t received permission to share.  However, comparing those pictures to one I have, I THINK this is Florent.


Possibly Florent Girardin

Florent died December 13, 1953 and his wife, Marie Louise on January 23, 1972 (while on holiday in California).

Girardin Florent obit1953

Obituary of Florent Girardin Winnipeg Free Press, Monday, December 14, 1953

Marcoux Marie Louise b1900 obit1972

Obituary of Marie Louise Marcoux Winnipeg Free Press January 26, 1972


2009 07 10_1061

Gravestone of Florent Girardin and Marie-Louise Marcoux La Salle Cemetery

Mémère’s youngest sibling, Caroline, is very much a mystery to me. She was born July 22, 1894. She was only 2 years old when her mother died. In the 1901 and 1906 census records, she is at home with her father in La Salle. In 1911 she is living with Mémère and Pépère, and works as a house servant in a boarding house.

And then she disappears! I can find no marriage or death records for her. At one point I thought she had married, but that record turned out to be her aunt, also called Caroline. There are public trees on ancestry that give her death as 1936, but none of these trees have documentation for that date.  She remains, for the time being, my “brick wall”.

And what of Mémère’s father, Napoleon? So many changes in his life! To recap, Napoleon was born in 1851 in Kingsey, Quebec. He moved with his extended family to Worcester, Massachusetts where he worked as a shoemaker, and married Onesime Allard.

Their first three children all died young. In 1880 with their daughter Emma (Mémère), they moved to Manitoba where Napoleon’s mother (Louise Bernardin) and brothers had already settled. They lived first in St. Daniel, then Bruxelles/St. Alphonse and had another nine children before Onesime died in 1896.

Napoleon moved his family to La Salle. He farmed, and most of the children married. In 1922, at the age of 71, Napoleon married again, to Marie Rouleau, who was the widow of Ferdinand Rheault. And here’s one of those strange connections we sometimes find. Marie was actually the mother-in-law of Napoleon’s younger brother Simeon, who had married Marie’s daughter Helene!

Napoleon died May 16, 1929 and is buried in La Salle, although apparently his grave is unmarked.

Girardin Napoleon b1851 death1929 pt1

Death registration for Napoleon Girardin

As is so often the case, even this “official” document has errors.  Napoleon was definitely born in 1851 in Quebec, not 1852 in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the baptismal record in St-Félix-de-Valois parish in Quebec.

Girardin Napoleon b1851 baptism

Actes d’état civil et registres d’église du Québec (Collection Drouin), 1621 à 1967, Kingsey (St-Félix-de-Valois), Québec, 1851. Baptism of Napoleon Girardin, accessed on

I’ve never seen a record where Napoleon’s father, Paul, is called “Adelard”.  The maiden name of his mother was Louise Bernardin.  Charbonneau was her name after her second marriage.  But these are the sometimes inaccurate details that you find when you research.

I THINK Marie Rouleau died in 1941, and is buried in Elie, Manitoba.

Now if I could just track down the elusive Caroline!

The Girardins of La Salle, part 4

I’m continuing the story of Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings. Telesphore (Bill) Girardin was born May 9 1889. He was 7 years old when his mother, Onesime Allard, died.

Telesphore (Bill) Girardin

Telesphore (Bill) Girardin

Telesphore never married. He farmed in La Salle for most of his life. Telesphore was a Private in the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment, but I don’t believe he was ever sent overseas, serving from November 11, 1917 to his discharge on August 27, 1918.

Libary and Archives Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 - 88,Item Number:413899

Libary and Archives Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 – 88,Item Number:413899

Telesphore died on January 8, 1970. I don’t have a picture of his gravestone. His obituary states he is buried in Garden of the Holy Sepulchre, which is now known as Glen Lawn Memorial Gardens.

Obituary for Telesphore Girardin

Obituary for Telesphore Girardin

Marie Helene (Ellen) Girardin was born July 19, 1890. She was 6 years old when her mother died. I have had the good fortune to have had one of her granddaughters find my blog and share pictures and information.

Marie E. Girardin

Marie E. Girardin

Marie is believed to have spent some time in a convent/boarding school in St. Boniface, as did her sister Geraldine. She married Walter Milton Gerdin, from Minneapolis, on December 8, 1917, in Minneapolis. Her granddaughter tells this family anecdote:

“From the time I was a little girl, my mom would tell stories about her
family. She described her mom as fun loving.  Everybody loved Marie. She was
a waitress in Winnipeg when my grandfather’s brother and wife met her and
thought my grandfather would love her.”

They raised one son and four daughters. Their son,Warren, died in World War II.

Walter died in 1950 and Marie in 1956.

Obituary for Marie E. Gerdin

Obituary for Marie E. Gerdin

And here is one of the most intriguing photographs that has been shared by one of Marie’s granddaughters.

Girardin Girls

Girardin Girls

The photograph was identified as Emma, unknown, Marie, Geraldine.  Isn’t it beautiful?

And here’s another picture.  Marie is the one standing.  The other woman certainly is a sister…there is such a strong resemblance, but which one?

Marie Ellen Girardin (standing) and ?

Marie Ellen Girardin (standing) and ?

It would be amazing if some other Girardin descendant  owns a copy of these pictures, so we can compare identifications.  Hope springs eternal!


The Girardins of La Salle, part 3

I’m continuing the story of Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings. Maria Maximillian Girardin, also known as Martha, was born June 11, 1885. She was just about to turn 11 years old when her mother died.


Maria Maximillian Girardin

On January 15, 1922, at the age of 36, she married Herbert Heckford Burrell in Winnipeg. Herbert sounds like an interesting man. He was born in India to British parents, his father being a missionary. Herbert served in World War One, and was also a noted chess player. You can read more about him here and here.

I have not been able to discover any details of Maximillian’s life after 1901 up until her marriage. Perhaps she left La Salle to work in Winnipeg. Maximillian and Herbert had one son, Arnold, who became a well-known artist. You can read about him here.

Maximillian, Herbert and Arnold moved to British Columbia in 1935. Maximillian died October 30, 1968 in Duncan, British Columbia. I have not been able to find an obituary for her.

Herbert had predeceased her on March 23, 1956.

Burrell Herbert obit1956
Geraldine Girardin was born April 23, 1887. She was 9 years old when her mother died. One of her grandchildren recalls her mother saying that Geraldine had been sent to an orphanage run by the Grey Nuns.  I haven’t been able to find any documentation on this, but the younger children may certainly have spent some time at a boarding school or convent.  By 1911 Geraldine was working in Winnipeg, as a laundress in a hotel and boarding at 316 Edmonton Street.

On November 14, 1916, she married John Butchart. Here’s a picture, generously shared by one of their granddaughters. What a handsome couple!

Girardin Geraldine b1887 wedding

John Butchart and Geraldine Girardin

John and Geraldine had 4 children, 1 son and 3 daughters. One of their daughters lived with her husband and family on the same street as I did as a child, and I attended elementary school with one of their grandsons. Through this blog I’ve had the opportunity to “meet” other granddaughters, who have so kindly shared pictures and information.

John died April 6, 1957 and Geraldine on October 10, 1969.

Butchart John b1883 obit1957

Girardin Geraldine b1887 obit1969

Here’s a picture of Mémère (Emma) with both of these sisters in 1968.

Mary (Maximillian), Emma, Geraldine in 1968

Mary (Maximillian), Emma, Geraldine in 1968

The Girardins of La Salle, part 2

Albert Girardin, son of Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard, was born April 7, 1882. He was 14 years old when his mother died.

Girardin Albert b1882

Albert married Arthemise Lapointe on July 16, 1907, just a few months after Mémère and Pépère were married. Albert and Arthemise had 8 children, 2 of whom died young.

Albert died December 23, 1963.

Obituary of Albert Girardin from Winnipeg Free Press, December 24, 1963

Obituary of Albert Girardin from Winnipeg Free Press, December 24, 1963

Arthemise died January 1, 1967.

Obituary of Arthemise Lapointe from Winnipeg Free Press, Tuesday, January 3, 1967, page 27

Obituary of Arthemise Lapointe from Winnipeg Free Press, Tuesday, January 3, 1967, page 27

They are buried in the La Salle Cemetery, but I have somehow neglected to get a photograph of their grave. I have added that to my genealogy to-do list.

Napoleon Wilfred Girardin was born February 12, 1884.

Girardin Napoleon

He was 12 when his mother died.  1907 was a popular time for wedding for the Girardins, as Napoleon wed Virginie Hogue, daughter of Thomas Hogue, Sr. and Philomene McMillan, on November 26, 1907.  This was the 3rd Girardin-Hogue marriage in La Salle.  No wonder Dad had so many cousins there!

Napoleon and Virginie only had one child, Luc, who tragically died at the age of 10, apparently from diphtheria.

Here’s a picture I believe is of their son Luc.

Girardin Luc

Napoleon died June 17, 1946 and Virginie on November 4, 1982.

Girardin Napoleon obit1946

Hogue Virginie b1886 obit 1982


Napoleon, Virginie and Luc are all buried in the La Salle Cemetery.

2009 07 10_1059


The Girardins of La Salle

Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard

Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard

In a previous post here, I mentioned the untimely death of Mémère’s mother, Onesime Allard, in 1896. Mémère’s father, Napoleon Girardin, was left with 10 children, the youngest, Caroline, only 2 years old, and the oldest, Emma (Mémère), a month shy of her 18th birthday. Onesime was buried at Bruxelles, but at some point the body was interred in another cemetery where other Allards were buried. I suspect that may have been St. Francois Xavier.

Napoleon was offered a position at the St. Hyacinthe seminary college farm in La Salle, and moved the family there. In the book Hugging the Meridian: Macdonald: A Manitoba Municipal History 1881-1981 by Betty Dyck, Emma was interviewed and recalled:

“We came by horse and wagon. Mr. Joseph Cormier made us a bed for the night on straw. The next day he took us to the college farm. When I married Thomas Hogue I moved to La Salle town April 16, 1907 to where the house is now on the Main Street.”

In the 1901 Census for La Salle (Macdonald, Selkirk, Manitoba; Page: 9) the Girardins are family #76 and the Hogues are family #77. It’s easy to understand how three Girardins married three Hogues!

1901 Census of Canada

1901 Census of Canada

Obviously Emma had a great deal of responsibility for her siblings. However, other descendants of Napoleon and Onesime have related to me that some of the siblings were sent to either an orphanage or convent or boarding school. This may have been an institution run by the Grey Nuns in St. Boniface, in the building which is now the St. Boniface Museum (see here). Or it may have been St. Joseph’s Academy run by Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (see here).  I have not yet been able to track down any records to document this.

So who were Mémère’s siblings?  I’ll begin a series of posts to share what I have learned.

The first was Arthur, born August 2, 1880 in Winnipeg almost as soon as Napoleon and Onesime arrived. Arthur was almost 16 when his mother died. He married Sarah Hogue (daughter of Thomas and Philomene) in 1901. Arthur worked as a foreman for the Canadian Pacific Railway. They had a family of six. Here’s a picture of them later in life.

Arthur Girardin and Sarah Hogue

Arthur Girardin and Sarah Hogue

Arthur died December 14, 1955 and Sarah on February 23, 1960. They are buried in the La Salle Cemetery. As you can see from the gravestone, two of their children died young.

2009 07 10_1055

Winnipeg Free Press Friday December 16, 1955 p. 15

Winnipeg Free Press Friday December 16, 1955 p. 15

Winnipeg Free Press February 25, 1960

Winnipeg Free Press February 25, 1960

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two of Arthur and Sarah’s granddaughters, who have generously shared information and photos with me.