When Ancestry.com fails: a Toronto street guide to the 1911 census
by Bill Gladstone December 18, 2012
Map of Toronto Center, 1911
Click to enlarge
Problem: you know your Jewish ancestors or relatives lived in Toronto in 1911 you even know their street address yet you can t find them in the 1911 census. No matter how many times you search, they do not show up in Ancestry.com s database of the 1911 census. Frequently the problem occurs because a family name is terribly misspelled in the index due to messy handwriting, or due to a faded, smeared or otherwise illegible census page. And yes, in some cases the enumerators missed people.
Solution? Search the 1911 census by address. Use the index below to determine what Ward, subdistrict and sheet the family will be on, depending on where they lived. If you subscribe to Ancestry, you may easily do the search on Ancestry. It is not complicated and it works. You may also do the same search on the Library and Archives Canada website. on which researchers may search by location but not by name (it s free no subscription necessary). Below are the basic instructions for conducting the search on Ancestry; if you try it on the Library and Archives Canada website, enter the same selections there.
When you search the 1911 census in Ancestry, note the Browse this collection window to the right of the main search window. Choose Ontario as the province. Immediately below, you will have a drop-down menu showing many districts; including these five Toronto-area Districts: Toronto Centre, Toronto East, Toronto West, Toronto South, Toronto North. (Ancestry may also offer in-situ drop-down menus.) So you must choose a District. For your reference, a map of Toronto Centre in 1911 appears above; at right is a map of the city s electoral districts in 1904. As the city was expanding rapidly in that era, the boundaries changed several times, but the maps give a good indication of the electoral districts.
Next, choose the sub-district (the corresponding Ward is shown as well), then click on the link. Ancestry will take you to the first in a series of sheets for that sub-district. Go the Images box at upper right (see diagram ), key in the number of the sheet you wish to examine, then press Go. If you have calculated correctly, you will quickly find your relatives on the census page that appears. (If not, check that the addresses on the sheet are as expected.)
Note that the District names correspond to District numbers; for example Toronto Centre is the same as District 124. In 1911 most of the city s Jews lived in Ward Three, which was also known as St. John s Ward; the cluttered and populous section inhabited mostly by Jews, Italians, Portuguese and other immigrants came to be known as just the Ward. But there were also a large population of Jews to the west in Wards Four and Five, and smaller pockets in Eastern Toronto s Wards 1 and 2, and in the West Toronto Junction.
The chart below offers a street index of the main Jewish residential areas in Toronto according to the census of 1911. Within the Jewish areas of the city, each sheet of the census is assessed and annotated to give some idea as to the number of Jewish families listed. In some cases actual family surnames found on the page are shown. The symbols are as follows:
- nJ = no Jewish families
- 1JF one Jewish family
- J indicates presence of several Jewish families (may use words like few or many or all. )
Street names are often initially spelled out once and then subsequently abbreviated; i.e, Cen means Centre, Vic means Victoria, Bath means well, you get it. But they are usually spelled correctly at least once in each section, so if you re looking for a particular street, it s a good idea to do a search for that street using its full name. Note that census pages were only selectively or intermittently scanned in areas not known as strongly Jewish and where low numbers of Jewish residents were found (as in 124-12/W2 in the George Street and Jarvis neighbourhood).
Please also note that for inexplicable technical reasons lines on the chart may not always display properly (the line breaks may disappear). I apologize for any confusion that may result. Please let me know if you find a previously elusive family in the 1911 census by using this chart. Good luck! ♦
Article and chart, Copyright © 2012.