Lifestyle

How to find family history info for free

Family history is a world many of us would love to explore. However, a mistaken belief that it’s an expensive hobby requiring pricy subscriptions or trips to a special library are holding back many would-be genealogists.

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to pay for the information you need. The Canadian census is one of the best tools available for research into family history. And you can find it all for free.

Nearly all the available Canadian censuses are freely accessible through Library and Archives Canada, and the censuses from 1825 to 1926 can be individually searched using an online database.

You can learn many things from the census. But remember that every census is different because the questions change from census to census, as do the possible responses people could give. These changes reflect how Canadian society has transformed from one generation to the next.

In general, since 1871 you should be able to track your ancestors by the following information:

  • age
  • sex
  • marital status
  • country or province of birth
  • religious denomination (after 1951, questions about religion have only been asked every ten years)
  • ethnic origin
  • occupation
  • education.

The earliest censuses might be missing certain information since weather or environmental disasters could make it impossible for all the information to be collected back then, or original records may have been lost to fires or water damage.

Family history can teach us so much about how our lives came to be. While it’s not always easy to find the information you want, finding free resources like the census can sure make it easier. The census is a great place to start. The 2021 Census starts on May 3. Find more information or complete your census at census.gc.ca.

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