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Trace Your Ancestors Through the Canadian Census

Canadian Author Lucy Maud Montgomery and Three Generations of Her Ancestors

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Lucy Maud Montgomery, age 29 (1903). Photo: University of Guelph Library.
University of Guelph Library
Maud Montgomery in the 1891 Canadian Census. Image: Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada

Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known for her series of novels "Anne of Green Gables,"  was born in New London (then known as Clifton), Prince Edward Island, on 30 November 1874, just one year after Prince Edward Island joined the Canadian Confederation. To demonstrate the fun of researching ancestors in the Canadian census, I've traced Maud and three generations of her ancestors through a fun variety of Canadian censuses online:

1921 Census of Canada -- By 1921 Lucy had completed the third of her eight-novel series, "Anne of Green Gables," but in the 1921 Canadian census someone has crossed out "author" as her occupation and written in "none!" She's living with her husband Rev. Ewan MacDonald, and sons Chester (8) and Steward (5), in Scott Township, Ontario.

1911 Census of Canada -- In the months between the death of her grandmother, Lucy Macneill in March 1911, and her marriage to Ewan MacDonald on 5 July 1911, Maud Montgomery appears to be the woman living with her aunt Mary (MacLeod) Montgomery and Mary's son, Cuthbert, in the Queens District of Prince Edward Island on 14 June 1911. Although listed as the "daughter" of Mary, Maud's occupation is recorded as "writing" for up to "60 hours" per week although, as in the 1921 census, this occupation is mysteriously crossed out. Mary MacLeod and Hugh Cuthbert Montgomery, brother of Maud Montgomery's father, Hugh John Montgomery, only had one known child, Cuthbert.

1901 Census of Canada -- Living with her grandmother "Mrs. Alexander Macneill" in 1901, Maud is listed as "granddaughter" with a birth date of 30 November 1874. Nearby are several of her Macneill relatives, including David Macneill and his unmarried sister, Margaret, who lived in the house that would later be known as Green Gables.

1891 Census of Canada -- Maud spent most of her childhood living in the home of her maternal grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Ann Macneill, but for a brief period she lived with her father and his second wife, Mary Anne McCrae, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In addition to her father and stepmother are Maud's half-siblings, Katie and Bruce.

1881 Census of Canada -- The first census in which Lucy Maud Montgomery was enumerated is 1881, where she is found as "Lucy M. Montgomery," living with her maternal grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Ann Macneill, and two of their children, Chester B, and Mary E. in Queens, Prince Edward Island.  She was living with them because her father, Hugh Montgomery, relinquished his young daughter into their care following the death of Maud's mother in 1876.

1861 Census of Canada -- Senator Donald Montgomery, father of Hugh John Montgomery and paternal grandfather of Lucy Maud Montgomery, is residing here in Queens, Prince Edward Island, with eight of his children. Nearby, in Lot 23 (Cavendish) the census enumerator asked dozens of questions of Lucy's maternal grandfather, Alexander MacNeill, to record on the 1861 agricultural schedule.

Want to explore your own family history in the Canadian census? Researching Ancestors in the Canadian Census will guide you through the available national census records, what you can expect to find in them, and how to access them online. For census records prior to Canadian Confederation in 1867, see Research in the Provincial Censuses of Canada. Have fun!

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