Researching in the 1926 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta


There is no worse hell for a genealogist than being out of country with limited access to the Internet when a new indexed records collection goes public. I was cruising in the Far East at the time that the 1926 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta census was released. Once I was back in Ontario one of my first tasks was to check out this new census release.

My first “adventure” with the database was frustrating. I searched for my father’s family who were residing in Saltcoats, Saskatchwan in 1926. I searched on my father’s name initially and did not get a hit. Then I searched on my grandfather’s name and still did not get a hit. My grandmother’s name did produce a hit. I looked at the records to see if my spelling of the names did not match what was in the index. Not so. Using the names given for my father, his brother and my grandfather I searched again. No hits. I moved to searches on other members of my extended family to see what I could find. I had a message come up that indicated there were technical problems with the site so I signed out and selected an alternate task. The following day I tried again and was able to get hits based on the names that had not worked the day before. Patience and persistence is the lot of the family historian!

So what was good about the census records that I found? I checked the records for my grandfather, John William Edward Campbell, and his sole remaining sibling, Rebecca Jane Plewes. In both cases the handwriting was easy to read and the enumerators in each case made a great effort to get at least two given names for each person. John W. E. Campbell’s entry noted that the family was living on High Street, in Saltcoats, Saskatchewan which confirmed information that I had in other records. I was able to get some approximate birth years for members of some collateral lines like my Youngs. Note that the age given is the age at the next birthday. Also note that this census was taken on our about June 1, 1926.

[Image courtesy of Library and Archives Canada]

The information in the census records for the birth place of John Pratt Campbell, John W. E. Campbell and Rebecca Plewes’ father continued the “disagreement” among the sons and daughters about that location. For John his father’s birth place was given as Scotland and his mother’s as Ontario. For Rebecca her father’s birthplace was given as Ireland and her mother’s as Ireland. In the latter case, the birth location for her mother is incorrect as she was born in Ontario. So until I can find some more concrete information the dilemma continues to exist.

Some researchers may find the years of immigration and naturalization of value. In my case none existed as all of the people I was searching for were born in Canada.

I was disappointed that no information about occupations was included. My father told many stories of working in the logging industry, on harvest gangs and on road building crews in Saskatchewan. I was hoping for some confirmation of at least one of these occupations.

One challenge remains with this dataset. I have yet to find Elizabeth Ann Diss who I believe was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the time of the census. I have tried various spellings and even searched on her given names with no luck to date. I did note earlier that patience and persistence are the hallmark qualities of family history researchers!


John William Edward Campbell family entry, 1926 Census of Saskatchewan, District 26, Melville, Enumeration Sub-district 66, Saltcoats Town, p. 2, lines 4-7.
Leslie Meley [sic] Plewes family entry, 1926 Census of Saskatchewan, District 30, Qu’ Appelle, Enumeration Sub-District 55, Moosomin Town, p. 2, lines 48-49.


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