Who Lived Here In 1911? (part 1)

I have spent more than a few days recently with my head in the Canada Census for 1911.  The original census takers’ sheets are now available on line (I’ll have more to say on that at the end of this post.) and it is possible to build up a fairly detailed picture of the pioneers who lived on what was then Park Drive (the present Commercial Drive) in July 1911. This post is a quick review of some what I’ve found.

I have been able to identify 179 individuals living on Park Drive in the summer of 1911. These folks made up 60 families, living in 34 buildings. There were 91 men and 86 women, well balanced in terms of age

[Note: the records of 2 individuals were so badly defaced that gender could not be determined; also, clicking on the image will enhance the view].

Many people today consider the Drive to be a multicultural neighbourhood with a strong background Italian influence. That is certainly not the case in the Drive’s first few years when Park Drive was overwhelmingly British, with 86% of all residents self-describing themselves as of English, Scottish or Irish extraction.

They were a religious lot, too, with churches being some of the first buildings erected.  Their choice of faith was broad if limited almost exclusively to Protestant Christianity.

There is a great deal of information that can be teased out of these census records, and later I will post about immigration, employment, wages, and the place of women in Grandview in 1911.

The census records are available online but they are not so easy to use if you are trying to put together location-based data rather than simply searching for an ancestor.  Vancouver records are found in British Columbia District 12.  District 12 is broken down into a great many sub-divisions.  I couldn’t find any overriding geographical structure to the sub-divisions and so had to look through hundreds of page to find my Park Drive data. This was scattered across 17 different pages in 3 different sub-divisions.  Bizarre. And that can be the easy part!

The census pages themselves are hand-written by normal people and therefore the quality of the writing is all the way from indecipherable to almost OK.  Add to this erasures, stains, fading pencil — sheesh!   Here is a link to an example.  Have fun!

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