Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Teachings - Canada Year Books

On 30 June 1877, Kingston Penitentiary housed 678 male and 22 female inmates. In 1911, 136 men were convicted of conspiracy in Canada. In 1937, Canadian families who averaged an annual income of $1,200 - $1,399, spent $419 for food and $254 for housing.

On the back cover of the October/November issue of The Beaver is an advertisement for Canada Year Books, 1867 through 1967. These yearbooks are now available online for free at the Canada Year Book Historical Collection on the Statistics Canada website.

What value is the information contained in these yearbooks for the family historian?

Much of the information contained in these yearbooks and therefore, on the website, is from Canadian census records, parliamentary records, photos, tables, charts and maps. While there is no identifiable, personal information on individual people, the information provided gives a glimpse of what life was like as a society in Canada at a specific time. You can browse the collection by year, topic or by tables, charts, maps, photos and multimedia.

For example, in 1945, the average wage for a carpenter working in Toronto was $1.11 per hour. My grandfather, Joseph Brinley George, was a carpenter for Canadian National Railways in Windsor, Ontario. Based on this information, I can get a better idea of what kind of living Brin was making in 1945. From what I can see, he made a decent living when compared to other occupations at that time.

Although the information in the Teachers' Toolbox section (button is in the left side menu)is geared toward teachers, I did find the information useful as a family historian. The lesson plans, especially the secondary level, are useful tools that can be used in researching information in your family. Or better yet, getting your kids involved in their family history.

You will need to take some time to fully explore all that the Canada Year Book Historical Collection has to offer. However, I think it a worthwhile investment of time in order to research and add those interesting bits of information that help make our family genealogy into a family history.