Famous Canadians in the 1916 Census
What do Art Linkletter, Sir William Samuel Stephenson, and Elvina Fay Wray have in common? They all have ties to one of the three provinces that make up the 1916 Canada Census, and some lucky volunteer may experience the thrill of transcribing their information for the free online index.
1. Arthur Gordon Kelly (Art Linkletter) will be found as a four-year-old child at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He was abandoned as an infant and then adopted and raised by a preacher. He hosted House Party and People Are Funny both on radio and later on newfangled television, and he is best remembered for his interviews with children on the television show Kids Say the Darndest Things. His adoptive parents were Fulton John Linkletter and Mary Metzler.
2. Sir William Samuel Stephenson was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessman, inventor, spymaster, and a British intelligence specialist during World War II. Stephenson is best known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid and is considered by some to be one of the real-life inspirations for James Bond. He was born William Samuel Clouston Stanger, January 23, 1897, in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
3. Elvina Fay Wray was born September 15, 1907, on a ranch near Alberta to Elvina Marguerite Jones and Joseph Heber Wray and will most likely show up as a nine-year old-child in the 1916 census. She made her film debut in Gasoline Love (1923), but it was her lead role in The Wedding March (1928) that made her a star. She became a cult figure after her role in King Kong (1933), as the beauty captured by a giant gorilla.
Interested volunteers can begin helping immediately by registering online at familysearchindexing.org, downloading the free indexing software, and selecting the 1916 Canada Census project. A digital image of a census page will appear. Volunteers simply type in the data highlighted on the computer screen and save it online. It takes about 30 minutes to complete one census page, and volunteers have a week to complete it if need be. Volunteers only need to be able to read, type, and have Internet access to participate.
"The 1916 census was selected first because it is the most recent and smallest of the three censuses targeted in the first phase. It included three of the western provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta) and has about 1.7 million names—so it will not take long to complete," said Stephen Young, FamilySearch project manager.
There are other hidden benefits to volunteering. Volunteers become familiar with historical documents, the valuable stories they can conceal, and their usefulness and application to genealogical research.
Indexers do not need to worry about their skill level at reading censuses. Each census page is transcribed by two different indexers. Any discrepancies between the two entries will be arbitrated by a third indexer. The result is a highly accurate, free index of tremendous value to family history enthusiasts. Young says the more online volunteers that help, the quicker the free census indexes will be available online for all to enjoy and benefit from.
One indexer recently commented, "I am intrigued with how the people come alive for me as I index. I indexed a household . . . containing a family with young children, grandmother, maiden aunt, and a couple of unmarried siblings. They had five servants, and I visualized a well-to-do household; the married son working maybe as a lawyer or doctor, taking care of his extended family. I see both sad and happy stories."
FamilySearch manages the largest collection of genealogical records worldwide. In 2007 it announced plans to begin digitizing and indexing its collection for broader, online access—starting with popular collections like Canadian censuses. FamilySearch has digitized the 1916 Canada Census and is seeking online volunteers to help create a searchable index for it and other census and non-census Canada projects. The 1861 and 1871 censuses will be next.
Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC) owns and is providing the digital images for the Canada census projects.