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Article Published July 31, 2005

Gordon A. Watts POST-1901 CENSUS NEWS (Canada)
By: Gordon A. Watts,

Greetings Readers, and Members of Parliament

Bill S-18

For those who missed my last column, on 28 June 2005 Bill S-18 - An Act to amend the Statistics Act, was deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, read a third time and passed. Genealogists and historians had been pressuring their Parliamentary Representatives to do just that before Parliament recessed for the Summer, but it had been looking like there was little chance of it happening. We were pleasantly surprised.

For the past while I had been a constant watcher of proceedings in the House of Commons on CPAC, that morning I tuned in about five minutes after the motion regarding Bill S-18 received unanimous consent of the House to be passed. I was unaware of what had happened until I received a welcome telephone call from Senator Lorna Milne a few minutes later.

Bill S-18 received Royal Assent on 29 June 2005 and its provisions are now Law! From this point on we are assured that "care and control" of Census records from 1911 to 2001 will be transferred to Library and Archives Canada, 92 years after collection, and will be made accessible to the public in accordance with provisions of the Access to Information and Privacy Acts. The same applies to Censuses from 2006 and on, provided that the respondents have given consent for information they submit to be released 92 years in the future.

One provision of Bill S-18, that has received little publicity, provides for a Parliamentary Review of the 'administration and operation' of the 'informed consent' provision. This Review is to be conducted by a Committee of the Senate, the House of Commons, or both, and is to take place after two Censuses have been conducted under it.

We will not be waiting for two Censuses to take place before seeking to see how the 'informed consent' provision that is now Law, is affecting the ability of our descendants to find us in future Censuses. The 2006 Census of Canada will take place less than a year from now. Soon after that Census is conducted we will be seeking information from Statistics Canada regarding how people have responded to the 'informed consent' question. We will post that information as soon as it is available.

1911 Census of Canada

Library and Archives Canada, without any formal announcement or fanfare, made records of the 1911 National Census of Canada accessible online on 21 July 2005. This was earlier than the expected release time of early August. It is believed that making the records accessible in this manner - quietly and without announcement - was an attempt to avoid overloading the servers on which the Census records are housed.

Two days later, we began getting messages of complaint regarding the inability to access the records. We originally assumed this was a problem created by too many people trying to access the records at the same time, thus overloading the servers. However this proved to be not the case. Without making obvious reference to the old saying about what happens when we 'assume', let us just say we were mistaken.

In our haste to access the 1911 records that were made accessible online on 21 July, many researchers, including myself, missed the notice on the LAC website that gave advance notice that electrical power in the LAC building would be shut down on 24, 25 July. The result was many messages of frustration and complaint.

As I write this, power has been restored to the LAC building, and researchers are once again able to access the records they seek.

It is interesting to note that even before Bill S-18 was passed; increasing interest in online access to Census and other databases caused LAC to increase their server capacity twice in recent months. The following is part of an email message I received earlier from Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.
    "We are working actively and quickly to prepare the 1911 Census for web access, and as you know from our web site we expect to have it available early in August. We are trying to anticipate likely demand by adding to our server capacity. We had been tracking demand on our site and found in March-April that demand was bumping up against the ceiling of our capacity. We added 50% to capacity in April and found that in May and June we were again bumping against our limits so we are investing in another 50% addition. We are also looking at other solutions to help us with the possible demand level as we all remember the experience in the UK when their 1901 census went live."
While recent emphasis has been placed online access to the 1911 records, there are those who are equally interested about when copies of microfilm records will be available in the LAC reading rooms. The following information is taken from the LAC website for the 1911 Census records.
    "Microfilm copies for the Census of Canada, 1911 will be available for on-site consultation at Library and Archives Canada and for interinstitutional loan in the upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, we invite you to consult the digitized images. Libraries and institutions that would like to purchase copies are invited to contact Library and Archives Canada."

Canadian Directories added to LAC databases

FYI. I copy here a message forwarded to me from Ian Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

A quick trip to the site mentioned was enough to make me believe the directories provided here will be of great interest to many genealogists. I found some of my own ancestors in an 1884 Directory that included Lavant Township in Lanark County, Ontario.
    "Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the launch of phase two of the Canadian Directories site (a project funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage through its Canadian Culture Online initiative). The addition of 80 new directories to our growing database brings a total of 95 searchable directories to the site.

    With this phase, we have focused upon the regions of Ottawa, Halifax and environs; these regions were selected to complement the digital initiatives of our colleagues across the nation, including Bibliothèque nationale de Québec and Our Roots: Canada's Local Histories Online.

    In addition, we've introduced a new section entitled CityScapes, which offers a brief historical overview of the cities whose directories have been digitized. You are invited to visit the site at:

    For more information, please contact Project Manager Susan Globensky at 613-992-2520,

    Gabrielle Blais
    Direction des Programmes
    Tél: 613.996.3405 "

Postage costs for Inter-Library Loans

I recently received a message from Ann Ritchie expressing concern regarding something that will affect many genealogists, historians and others who use Inter-Library Loan to obtain information not available locally. I copy the text of her message here:
    "Just when the problem with the release of the 1911 Census has been resolved, another problem seems to rearing its ugly head.

    Canada Post is in the process of preparing its budget to take effect March 1, 2006. One of the proposed changes is that libraries will no longer have a special postage rate to ship materials by mail on inter-library loan. The example given to me is that a 4" x 7" x 3/4" paperback book which can currently go out on inter-library loan at a cost of 87 cents, effective Mar. 1, 2006 will cost $7.44 in postage.

    There will be very few libraries that will be able to absorb this large increase. My local library has already decided that inter-library loan will no longer be available after Mar. 1, 2006 as they just cannot afford the cost.

    Lack of inter-library loan will not only affect those of us doing genealogy, but also students, researchers and those who simply want to read a book that is not available at their local library. This is supposed to be the information age but not everything is available on the internet and not every household has a computer. Everyone using inter-library loan will be affected regardless of whether they live in urban or rural areas, but those in rural centres will probably be hit harder as their libraries are small and research materials available are limited.

    Once again it is necessary to email or write to the Prime Minister, the Federal Minister of Heritage and any other Federal MPs who can perhaps do something to prevent this rate increase from happening. This time, unlike with the 1911 Census , and since most libraries receive some funding from the provincial governments, provincial premiers, and provincial members of parliament should also be made aware of what is happening. Letters to the mayors of larger centres and to local newspapers will help to bring this issue to the public's attention.

    Canada Post will finalize this budget on Sept. 1, 2005, so there is some urgency in showing how much opposition there is to this increase. They would probably be happier if this proposed change did not become public until they can say it is to late for them to do anything about it, so I guess that once again it is up to the public to make lots of noise about the issue."
Ann's message was also posted to a genealogy news group, interestingly one from Britain at:

Another reader of that news group contacted Don Butcher, Executive Director of the Canadian Library Association, for verification of Ann's concerns. His response to her, was posted to the news group with permission: It reads as follows:
    The situation is a little more complicated than this e-mail indicates, although the e-mail is not wrong.

    It is true the Publications Assistance Program, under which the Library Mail Rate falls, was only extended for one year, to March 31, 2006. So technically, yes, the Library Mail Rate expires March 31 (not March 1) 2006.

    However, discussions have been on-going since April on the future of the Mail Rate, and traditionally negotiations on the Mail Rate don't start until the fall, so there's no particularly urgency. Canada Post's budget is not materially impacted by the Mail Rate - it's a $15 million non-cash item on a multi-billion dollar budget - so the September date doesn't appear to be important

    The e-mail is absolutely correct in that the loss of the Library Mail Rate would have a devastating impact on inter-library loans and the Canadian library system.

    CLA is not promoting an advocacy campaign at this time, although it is our expectation we will have to organize one this fall.

    Thank you for your interest. Please keep abreast of the news on this - we may need your help in the fall.

    Don Butcher, MBA, CAE
    Executive Director

    Canadian Library Association 328 Frank St.
    Ottawa, ON K2P 0X8
    Tel: 613-232-9625 ext. 306
    Fax: 613-563-9895
    Home page:
It would appear that concerns regarding the possible loss of the special postage rate for libraries and Inter-Library Loans have reached people in government and Canada Post. Recent announcements have indicated that current postal rates will remain in effect for at least another year. What happens after that remains to be seen.

A little humour

Like everyone else, I have a number of friends whose greatest joy in life is forwarding jokes and other items by email, that friends of theirs have in turn forwarded to them. Every once in awhile one catches my attention more than they usually do. The following is one such message that arrived as I started writing this column. Considering that many genealogists are grandparents that spend considerable time at their computers, it may be appropriate to pass this one on.

    The computer swallowed grandma.
    Yes, honestly its true.
    She pressed 'control' and 'enter'
    And disappeared from view.

    It devoured her completely.
    The thought just makes me squirm.
    She must have caught a virus,
    Or been eaten by a worm.

    I've searched through the recycle bin,
    And files of every kind;
    I've even used the Internet,
    But nothing did I find.

    In desperation, I asked Jeeves
    My searches to refine.
    The reply from him was negative,
    Not a thing was found 'online.'

    So, if inside your 'Inbox,'
    My Grandma you should see,
    Please 'Copy', 'Scan' and 'Paste' her
    And send her back to me!

    Authour Unknown
Until next time. Happy Hunting.

Gordon A. Watts

Post 1901 Census Project Web Site:
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