Friday, August 9, 2013

Fun With the 1921 Census of Canada?? Finding the Foley and Gaull Families

Well, the day finally arrived. The images of the 1921 Census of Canada became available through yesterday at 2:00 p.m. EDT and I immediately began the process of searching for family members.

Ancestry is working on a nominal index for the census records but that searchable index is estimated to not be available for about two or three months. In the interim, the 1921 Census of Canada images are available indexed on a geographic basis. Ancestry describes this geographic index this way, "For the 1921 census, each province was divided into census districts. These districts were divided into sub-districts. Districts were roughly equivalent to electoral districts, cities, and counties. Sub-districts were typically towns, townships, and city wards."

As my paternal Hadden family members did not arrive in Canada until 1923, I focused on finding my maternal Foley ancestors. I knew that one of my maternal great grandfathers, John Foley and his family lived on Pickering Street in the east end of Toronto.

I chose the Province of Ontario and the Toronto East district. This provided me with a list of 70 sub-districts to choose between, including the inmates of the Toronto 'Don' Jail. Some of the sub-districts had geographic boundary descriptions, in rather fine print, that assisted me in eliminating them from my search. I also grew up on Pickering Street so I know all the various street names in the neighborhood. Nothing seemed to match; nothing seemed to be even remotely close geographically. 

Convincing myself that I was simply misreading or misunderstanding the sub-district listing, I began browsing through the images of the Toronto East sub-districts. No, I had been correct. The enumerated streets were in Toronto's east end but still quite a distance from Pickering Street.

A moment before I was about to inform Ancestry that they had forgotten to upload my great grandparent's sub-district, I took a moment of forced calm to again review the available district list. At the bottom of the list I found York East  and scrolling the the sub-district listing I saw street names attached to sub-district 37 that were from my old neighborhood.

Finally, in sub-district 39, I found Pickering Street!

Listed on page 17 of the sub-district census record, living at 96 Pickering Street, was my great grandfather John Foley, his second wife Annie (nee McElroy), and three of his children - Gerald (my namesake misidentified in the census record as Clarence (Clarence was married and was found living in his own home at 9 Pickering Street), my then 23-year old grandmother Gertrude, and John Joseph Foley.

All of the frustration in locating known family members dissolved  But who else was living in the area?

Scanning through the census pages, I found George Gaull, my paternal Hadden great grandmother's brother. George was a driving influence in my family's decision to settle in Toronto's east end after their immigration from Scotland and a few years of farming in Saskatchewan. George and his wife Mary (nee Coulson) can be found living at 67 Pickering Street, a house from which he operated his grocery store. With them was their one-year old son George Leonard 'Lenny' Gaull as well as George senior's sister Elsie Findlater and brother William Fowler Gaull. I knew that Elsie had lived in Toronto for some time before returning 'home' to Scotland but I was unaware that William Gaull had joined his siblings in Canada. According to the record, William arrived in Canada in 1920 and in 1921, he was working as a labourer at a lumber yard, perhaps the lumber yard that was located just a few blocks away from their house.

Patience, something I don't possess a lot of at times, ruled the day. If you are going to search images that are not yet indexed, it can handy to pack a little extra patience in your tool box.

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