Manitoba Ancestors: Browsing Early Manitoba through Census records

One of the problems with ancestors in Canada\’s West is finding early records. Thanks to the Hudson\’s Bay Company, those with Manitoba ancestors can find them pre 1870. Family Search has a browse only collection online called Manitoba Census Indexes, 1831-1870. This collection has index cards of the Red River Settlement covering from 1831 to 1869. It also includes cards for the 1870 Manitoba provincial census taken by the Department of Agriculture. Arranged alphabetically, the collection is divided into 2 sections. There are over 30,000 images in total

1831 to 1870
This collection contains cards indexed from nominal censuses in 1832, 1833, 1838, 1840, 1843. 1846/1847, 1849, 1856 and 1870. The censuses cover the Lower Settlement, Grant Land, and Indian Villages. 1856 and 1870 are not complete. On these cards you\’ll find any or all of the following information:

  • Head of household
  • Age
  • Residence
  • Religion
  • Country of Birth
  • Property
  • Livestock
  • Land Cultivated
The set is further divided in to 5 sections:
  • A to Emlyn, Narcisse
  • Emlyn, Solomon to Lavallee, Francois
  • Lavallee, Francois Xavier to Pilon, Antoine
  • Pilon, Antoine to Z
The first few frames of the the first section gives some statistical information. It can help to give you a sense of the Settlement as a whole. Here\’s a card listing Place of Birth for 1832/1833:
By 1849, the Place of Birth for residents looked like this:
Depending on how long your ancestor lived in the settlement, you\’ll be able to follow then by looking at a series of cards. Here\’s a series of cards for a Neil McDonald:

If you\’re looking for a female ancestor, you might get an important bonus for them. Some of the cards for 1870 can also include maiden name and father\’s name. Here\’s one for Mrs. Nancy McDonald
As you can see with Nancy, she is noted as a \”half breed\”. One could probably assume that her father was European and her mother was Indigenous. Please keep in mind that you\’ll see terms that are no longer socially acceptable today.

This section contains only cards for the 1870 census from the Department of Agriculture. It is further divided into 6 sections:
  • A to Delorier, Elise
  • Delorier, Genevieve (Lacourse) to Henderson, Anna A.
  • Henderson, Catherine (McBeath) to McIntosh, Isabella M.
  • McIntosh, Joanna A. to Prudhom, Mrs. William
  • Prudhom, William to Stevens, Harriet
  • Stevens, Henri to Z
Some of the information you can find:
  • Head of household
  • Age 
  • Residence
  • Birthplace
  • Race
  • Marital Status
  • Spouse\’ Name
  • Spouse\’s Age
  • Children\’s Names
  • Children\’s Ages
  • Religion
As well, the cards also list household number and census page. Here\’s one for Robert Hoorie:
Now, each person gets their own card. So using this card, you can find cards for each of the other family members. Wives were cross referenced. Robert\’s wife Christine Henderson shows like this under her maiden name
And here she is under Hoorie, Christine
If you didn\’t know Christine\’s name, this is how she is cross referenced as Mrs. Robert Hoorie
The cards for both sections were created by the Archives of Manitoba. If you want to see the originals, they are onsite. Microfilms of them are available for inter library loan. Some have been digitized on the Archives of Manitoba website, but not all of them that I could see. 

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