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Article Published July 31, 2000, Vol. IV No. 13

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

Greetings Readers, and Members of Parliament

No News is Good News?

Or so the saying goes. At this stage of the game I have my doubts.

The only Post 1901 Census news at the time of writing is that there is NO news. We still wait (im)patiently for word on both the report of the Expert Panel on Access to Historic Census, and the Nation-wide Environics Research Survey that was commissioned by Statistics Canada for use by the Expert Panel.

The reason Dr. Pamela White gives for the Environics Survey not yet appearing on the Statistics Canada website is that it cannot be posted until it has been translated so that it can be posted simultaneously in both official languages. It seems, however, that the translation is taking an inordinately long time. At this time it is questionable whether the intention is to post it to the StatCan website, or simply direct it to the PWGSC (Public Works and Government Services Canada).

This evening I sent an email to Dr. White stating that I did not have the requirement the Government does for a translation of the document and asked if there was any way she could send me a copy of the report. If that is possible I should have it prior to writing my next column.

Hon. John Manley Receives Report of Expert Panel

In the same email in which Dr. Pamela White informed me of the Environics Research Survey report, she advised that the Hon. John Manley, Minister of Industry, was given the report of the Expert Panel on Access to Historic Census on 30 June 2000.

On 10 July 2000 I sent the following email to Industry Minister John Manley. To date I have received neither acknowledgement nor response.
    Hon. John Manley,
    Minister of Industry.
    Ottawa, Ontario.

    Dear Sir.

    I have been advised by Dr. Pamela White, Secretariat of the Expert Panel on Access to Historic Census, that the report of that esteemed Panel was delivered to you on 30 June 2000, and that it is the responsibility of yourself to determine when it will be released.

    Would you be so kind as to advise when that report will be made available to the Public, and by what means I might obtain a copy of it. I represent a great number of Canadian historians and genealogists who anxiously await this report.

    Thank you.

    Gordon A. WATTS <>
    Canada Census Committee

Submission to Expert Panel

One of our supporters, and a frequent contributor of information, Gwen XXX, forwarded the following submission to the Expert Panel on Access to Historic Census. While not a long submission, it is obviously heartfelt. Thanks for forwarding it to us Gwen.
    March 12, 2000

    Expert Panel on Access to
    Historical Census Records
    Att: Dr. Pamela White, Secretary
    Statistics Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6

    Gentlemen and Ladies:

    I am writing on behalf of my family and perhaps one quarter of the Canadian population who care deeply about our family history and that of our forefathers. I am truly humble at having been able to trace my mother's family back to the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe, and to learn of their arrival in our wonderful country 250 years ago. They were some of the original settlers of Nova Scotia and honoured today in many ways in our Province. It is wonderful to know our roots and we have a strong and keen desire to continue our family's travels into the 20th century. Unfortunately, if the laws, as they are presently interpreted by "some of our representatives" in Ottawa and the Privacy Commissioner, cannot be changed to permit historians and genealogists to continue their quest into our heritage, much of the desired information will be lost forever.

    Unfortunately, we cannot learn anything about my father's family. He was born about 1907, and as a child was labelled a "bastard", a term which he naturally could not accept or ever truly come to terms with.

    In order to obtain pensions, he eventually obtained a birth certificate through school records. Despite his requests for information, he never learned anything regarding the circumstances of his birth, and cried for all of his 88 years in a desire to know who his parents may have been.

    My prayer now is that he does know. His yearning desire to know his roots was profound and affected his wife and children deeply on countless occasions over the years. Only one who has experienced or lived with such circumstances could truly understand the sadness and frustration. Our last hope to obtain this information is through access to post 1901 census data. We may not be successful but at least we will have tried, which is more than was ever offered to my Dad.

    My sister suffers from debilitating illnesses, and other conditions in the family make our search more important as time passes so that we may learn of genetic or hereditary conditions.

    All Canadians know their privacy today is at a minimum. We also know that laws of our country and those with which we live are changed almost daily. To deprive and rob Canadians of their culture, heritage and genetic history is scandalous. Most other societies and countries in the world today encourage their peoples to research the history of their country and their families so as to preserve an interest for future generations of deprivations, hard work, and opportunities which they enjoyed and passed on to all of us - NOT to politicians and NOT to Government.

    As members of the Panel appointed by Ottawa, we plead with you to consider what is in the best interests of Canada and Canadians - and not the opinions of some bureaucrats or politicians who obviously have their own agenda, which is not necessarily in the best interests of the Canadian people who tryly care about our country and its people.

    Please consider encouraging the Canadian Government to release post 1901 census data after a reasonable period of time. The issue of confidentiality in early census records was undoubtedly only to assure those giving information that it would not be used at that time by Governments or broadcast publicly by census takers and others controlling this information.

    We cannot believe that so many years later that our forefathers would not have wanted us to know who they were and the heritage they were passing on to both their families and historians. I am sure they would be proud to know we cared enough to learn about them.

    About two weeks ago on the CBC national News, Maureen McTeir said:
      "Everyone has the right to know who they are."
    Canadians, historians and genealogists would agree with her. I hope you will too.

    Gwen XXX

Dear Ancestor

Sandy ??? sent the following poem to one of our Committee members. While not dealing specifically with Post 1901 Census issues it serves to show why many of us are concerned with accessing Census. The webpage it was taken from is:

Dear Ancestor:

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone. The name
and date are chiseled out,
on polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care.
It is too late to mourn.
Your did not know that I exist,
you died, and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts, and beats a pulse
entirely our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
one hundred years ago.
Spreads out among the one you left
who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved.
I wonder if you knew,
That someday I would find this spot,
and come to visit you.

~ author unknown ~

Petitions still accepted

Just a note to advise that petitions to the House of Commons and to the Senate are still being accepted. Download the Petitions from the Post 1901 Census Project Website at:

Summer time, with travelling, holidays, camping, and family reunions is a good time to gather signatures. To date, more than 7000 signatures have been received on Petitions to the House of Commons, and more than 3000 for the Senate. This does not count signatures on petitions other than our own.

Letters and E-mail still Required

Letters and e-mail to your elected representatives, urging them to support access to Post 1901 Census, are still required, perhaps now more than ever. Lately, many more MPs have been responding to our questions than previously, perhaps because they are in summer recess and have a little more time. Perhaps also, the message that we want access is finally sinking in.

Post 1901 Census Project website updates continue

The MPs Scoreboard is being kept up to date with the information that we receive from you, or directly from the MPs. Your assistance is still required. Check out the Scoreboard and if you have received responses that differ from that shown there, please send them to me at:

The Question: "Would you, as an elected Member of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada, vote FOR or AGAINST a Bill supporting release to the Public, of Post 1901 Census Records, 92 years after they were recorded. ( 1911 Census information available in 2003, 1921 in 2013 etc)"

The totals shown by current information are:

Standings as of
19 July, 2000
Sitting on the Fence

Currently, Nova Scotia is the ONLY PROVINCE which has received a response from every one of it's MPs. Not all Nova Scotia MPs show a gold tick, but I am sure you will continue working on those who do not. The Province of Quebec has the poorest showing, based on responses from MPs. Almost none of the MPs from Quebec have responded to our questions.

Extracts from Hansard for the Senate relating to Census issues have been updated and are complete on the website now. Included are two Annual Reports of Bruce Phillips, Privacy Commissioner, presentation of numerous petitions, debate and speeches of several Senators addressing Census and Senator Lorna Milne's Bill S-15, currently in second reading. These debates have some interesting reading and the hard work, that of locating debates of interest, has been done for you.

Other pages on the Post 1901 Census Project website will be updated as time permits. I have been concentrating on the more important pages first.

Request for Submissions to the Expert Panel

Have you made a major submission to the Expert Panel on Access to Historic Census Records - on behalf of a genealogical or historical society, or yourself? If so, please send me a file(s) containing that submission so that I might include it in future columns, and thus inform our readers.

Canada Census Campaign Mail List

The Canada-Census-Campaign-L mail list was set up to provide a forum for those interested in obtaining release of Historic Census Records in Canada.  It is not for look-ups or individual queries.  Your comments and questions relating to release of Post 1901 Census records are welcome.  Subscribe to the list by sending an e-mail to

With only the word subscribe in the subject line and the body of the message.  Do not include any other text or signature files in the body of the message.  To subscribe in Digest mode, change the ‘L’ in the address to a ‘D’.

Post 1901 Census Project website

If you have not already done so, please send me any responses you have received from your Member of Parliament regarding the Census problem. You are invited to view the website at:

More Information On The Census Project

Until next time.  Happy Hunting.

Gordon A. WATTS

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