Friday, October 5, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Ancestry Canada Voters List - The Good the Bad and the Ugly

   Well for the past few days I have started going through the Canada Voters List 1935-1980.  So far it is definitely a Treasure Chest of information.  I found my great uncle Fernand Lafleur in the Essex, Ontario list (numerous years) and with him his wife Theresa. The cool thing here is that her father lived with them. I knew her maiden name was Rocheleau but never had any information on her parents. However it was evident from the Voters list that Charles Rocheleau (retired) lived in the same household and so I have opened a small brick wall in my genealogy. The information in these Voters list helps fill out the lives of our ancestor's. Where they lived in the various years, occupation and who (of voting age) lived in the home.
    Now while it is a great new source of information I do have some criticism . The Transcription of the original records is rough. I really wonder if they were checked at all. For one thing they completely skip over people in the records, not to mention how badly they transfer some of the names from the records.  For instance the record featured here below...

Nipissing, Ontario Rural polling Division No. 87, Verner (Town)

   and this is what the transcribers have available to look up....

             Name                          Location         Occupation  Electoral    Year
1)    Stvphanv  Hrossvau              Nipissing, Ontario   Journalier          Nipissing    1958
2)   Aldan Hrowivau                     Nipissing, Ontario     Vultiv                  Nipissing    1958
3)   I Hrnswvau                                Nipissing, Ontario     Onat                       Nipissing    1958
            5) M Dmrovhes                                 Nipissing, Ontario    Mv                          Nipissing    1958
     7) Francois Journalier  Dettrovhes      Nipissing, Ontario  Vernvr                Nipissing   1958                         
     9) Mario Dalvourt                           Nipissing, Ontario  Rvlne Vvrner       Nipissing    1958
   10) Edouard  Dalcourt                        Nipissing, Ontario  Journalier,Vernvr  Nipissing   1958
   11) Claude Dalvourt                           Nipissing, Ontario  Vultivateur         Nipissing   1958
   12) Marguei  Unlvourt                        Nipissing, Ontario   He Vrrnvr          Nipissing   1958
   16) Journalier  Matirlsv                       Nipissing, Ontario  Vvrnvr              Nipissing   1958
   17) M Ivrvai                                      Nipissing, Ontario   Me                  Nipissing   1958
   18) Journalivr Harry                            Nipissing, Ontario  Vvrnvr              Nipissing  1958
   20) Eugene Lafleur                            Nipissing, Ontario  add                  Nipissing  1958
   21) Marie Louise Lafleur  (nee Trudel) Nipissing, Ontario   add                 Nipissing   1958
   22) Roland Lafleur                              Nipissing, Ontario  Cultlvateur        Nipissing   1958
   23) Beatrice Lafleur (nee Ouellette)     Nipissing, Ontario  Vernvr               Nipissing   1958          
   24) Edouard  Laurin                           Nipissing, Ontario  Vultlvatvur         Nipissing   1958
   27) Mme Georgette   Ivifortune             Nipissing, Ontario  -Field                Nipissing   1958          
   28) Ludgere Lafortune                         Nipissing, Ontario   Cultlvateur         Nipissing   1958
   29) Jean Maurlve Labelle                     Nipissing, Ontario   Fila Cultlvateur  Nipissing   1958     
   31) Oscar Ouvllvttv                             Nipissing, Ontario  Cultlvateur         Nipissing   1958
   32) Florence Ouvllvtto                         Nipissing, Ontario   Vvrner              Nipissing   1958
   33) Leo Kivard                                  Nipissing, Ontario   Journalivr, Vvrner Nipissing   1958
   34) Mmv Klcard                                Nipissing, Ontario   Ivrtrudv  Vcrner   Nipissing    1958
   35) Joseph Rlcard                               Nipissing, Ontario   Cultlvateur          Nipissing   1958
   36) Mme Delphlne  Rlcard                   Nipissing, Ontario   -Verner                Nipissing   1958
   37) Patrice Rlcar                               Nipissing,  Ontario   Flls De Cultlvateur Nipissing   1958
   38) Roger St Gvorges                         Nipissing, Ontario   Journalier             Nipissing   1958
   39) Edouard  Trvmhlay                      Nipissing, Ontario   Mlneur                 Nipissing   1958
   40) Mmc Eglantine-Verner Tremblay   Nipissing, Ontario    add                     Nipissing   1958
   42) Mme Phllomene  Laurin               Nipissing, Ontario   Veuve                 Nipissing   1958

          Now I Numbered them down the left side in order to help match them to their counterparts in the original scanned Voters List. First of all notice that the people numbered 4,6,8,13,14,15,19,25 & 26 are all missing in the transcription. That's nine of forty-two missing. Secondly look at the names even starting at persons 1-3. they are obviously all from the same family (the Brosseau) but the transcriber has their name starting with an 'H' and then each one is spelled differently. Then 4-7 is suppose to be the Desroches family. Only two of them made the cut and look at the spelling of the names not to mention that the Occupation of "Journalier" was included in the name (something you see happening again and again through the transcriptions. it doesn't end there look at number 40 and notice in the transcription that the Town of residence is listed in as part of the name; and again this happens over and over in the transcriptions. 
          I found this page looking for my Lafleur relatives. and numbers 20-23 are the ones I found. However I found them because I was scanning all the Lafleur files by doing a rough search for Lafleur and Ontario only. No first name, year or more specific area. I came across Roland (number 22) as I scanned the pages and when I clicked on it and examined the page saw his parents above and his wife below (you will notice that numbers 20, 21 & 23 are bolder print). These are bolder because they are the corrections I made. Now they show up here on the copy I made and show up on the transcription as a user added notation. however they do not correct the actual transcription and so if you did a search for these people specifically, you would not find this record (unless you looked for Roland and found them through him as I did). 
          Thirdly notice the occupation list. Again the Town name is found in the occupation list and or the occupation is spelled wrong or is any combination of these. the 'add' in the column means it was left blank and you can 'add' the information if you know it. 
            Looking again at the names (I am looking for family in this region of Ontario named Lafleur, Gervais, Ouellette and Trudel.  I noted when looking at this page of the Voters list that there was a Ouellette family on the page at numbers 31 & 32. However again looking at the transcription the name is wrong, and I doubt that the way it is spelled would even come up as a sound-ex variation of the name.  Luckily for me it isn't a family member as far as I know as of yet. There is also a Gervais family at numbers 14-17. They are relatives of mine.  Moise Gervais is the brother of my great grandmother Aldea Gervais.  He is present in the voter list with his wife Cecile (nee Pilon) and an as of yet unknown son Maurice with his wife Semone. Now notice once again the transcription, it is missing 3 of the 4 people shown on the original and the one that is listed is number 17 Semone Gervais using the prefix 'Mme' as her first name (so a capital 'M') then the last name as "Ivrvai" (DO YOU THINK THAT WILL SHOW UP IN A SEARCH?).  
          So yes I am happy that the Voters List is available, and for the information it provides. However the mistakes in transcription are terrible. (Note: there are pages in the original that are hard to read and I certainly understand transcription problems. Most of the pages I am pointing out though are as shown above; and seem completely legible. The only answer seems to be sloppy transcription work). I have done transcription work on line and I know there are some problems doing them sometimes. However if you are going to do it, then look it over and understand the information you are looking at and what is expected before starting. For example just looking at the information as it is laid out on the original above it should become clear to anyone that  Verner is a town, given wear it appears in the list and how often. So there is no reason for it to find it's way into the Person's Name column or into the Occupation column.  The French Prefix "Mme" (English equivalent would be "Mrs.") appears in front of numerous woman's name on the list. Again if you aren't sure what this means then do a "Google Search" or see if the site has an "Info. Tab" for each column with common things like this listed. Well enough ranting, I think you can see my points and even understand and feel them yourself. But let's end on the positive point that these records help us to round out our knowledge, give more meat to our genealogy record and just helps us to "Remember When..." a little easier. 


  1. I don't think they were transcribed by a human but were ocr'ed and then posted on-line without being checked. This is almost worse than no transcription at all.

  2. I agree with Charles. A horrible transcription is almost worse than none at all...

  3. My experience with the indexed results of these voters' lists is about the same as yours, John. Not only is the index problematic, but some images are missing. Take for example the 1940 Cochrane, Ontario electoral district: Ancestry has only 11 images for it, misses most of the town of Timmins, and ignores almost all the other communities for that district.

  4. Thanks all for the comments... after further use of the Voters list I have to agree with Charles here that it appears the list was scanned and a computer transferred the info to the Transcription list. It is horrible to use. Even when I found relatives such as the Gervais family in my example; I couldn't find them when I did a search; even though they were listed on the transcription list at the bottom of the viewing screen when I looked at the Lafleur family. So I had to add the Voters List page to my Ancestry Tree (as a proof) using the Lafleur head of house to connect it. I also found that (and this is just a point on the time the Voters List was originally being created) in the 1945 List that my great grand-parents were included twice (as were some of their neighbors). In the Nipissing area of Badgerow and the town of Verner the area they lived in was done twice on Polling Districts that must have over lapped slightly. A search showed them on the two and while I thought it might just be a similarly named family a look at the neighbors showed that there were too many exact matches to be coincidence. Yvonne I find it totally believable that there are pages missing considering all that is wrong with this list

  5. Moise and Cecile Gervais are my maternal grandparents. This would make Aldea my mother's aunt. Moise was a widower with 3 grown children when he married my grandmother. They had 10 children together.

    1. Well I am glad you are reading my post. I haven't had a lot of responses; but it is always nice to get one and even nicer that it is a distant cousin. So if I am doing the math (such as it were) right, then you and my mother are 2nd cousins and you and I would be 2nd cousins once removed. It would be great to share with you if you are interested. Contact me and let me know.

  6. Maurice (son of Moise & Cecile Gervais) and Simone (daughter of Oscar& Florence Ouellette) are my maternal grandparents.

  7. Nice to hear from you cousin. I am glad you found this of interest enough to post. If you are at all interested in sharing family information (if you are doing the genealogy for your branch), just let me know and I would love to.


I would appreciate any comments or feedback. If you are a (distant) cousin just finding our connection, leave a message and a way to contact you to share information. God bless all.