After 1939, researching your family in Canada can be a bit of a challenge depending on the province. Census records, and birth, marriage and death records have a long closure period before being released to the public. However, with the release last week of Ancestry.ca's Canada, Voter's Lists, 1935-1980, researching your Canadian ancestors in the mid-20th century has just become easier. The voter's lists from 1935 - 1974 have been indexed. The lists for 1979 and 1980 are available for browsing only.
The Canadian system for federal elections is different from the American system. We don't go to the polls every four years; the number of years between Canadian elections varies.
With the large time span covered in the voter's list database, you may be able to research up to three generations of your family tree. I was able to find my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Although there isn't a lot of information listed on each of the individual voter's lists, researching an ancestor successively through the voter's lists can reveal quite a bit such as changes in addresses, changes in occupation, and other people of voting age living at the same address.
The voter's lists were arranged either alphabetically by name, or by street address. The lists that used the street addresses provide a wonderful view of your ancestor's neighbourhood at that particular time. This may provide clues to further your family history research. Be sure to read the information on the first page of each list of electors. Information on this page includes how the information was arranged such as surname, forename, occupation, address, etc. Also, information about the area covered within the electoral district is provided. Using a map of the area is a good idea, especially in large cities, where you may not know the name of the electoral district.
Researching people with a common name can be tricky. Remember, married women were likely registered under their husband's names, for example, Mrs. Robert Evans, until the 1960's. If the woman was single or widowed, her own name would have been used.
Using the Canada, Voter's Lists, 1935-1980 will likely take your Canadian family history research further, and provide you with more details about your ancestors.
Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2012.