The following was written by Ancestry.ca staff:

canada1916censusMore than 1.7 million names indexed and fully searchable – 38,000+ images of original documents

In a world first, Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, today launched online the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, which contains 1.7 million names and more than 38,000 images of original Census pages in an indexed and fully searchable format.

From 1906 to 1956, a separate Census was taken for the Prairie provinces five years after every national Census, providing a more complete picture of Canada’s west at this time. By law, the collection was kept private for 92 years and this is the first time ever that Canadians can view these important records online.

Family and social history enthusiasts can search the collection by first and last name, residence, place and year of birth, by father, mother and spouse’s name. This Census was also the first ever in Canada to ask about military service, providing much more detailed information about one’s ancestors.

In addition to recording basic population and demographic statistics, the Census recorded primary migrant communities, which originated from England, Ireland, Scotland, the U.S. and Russia. In fact, 1916 was the year that the famous Doukhobors – a group of Christian Russian immigrants that would come to play a great role in building the Prairies – first arrived in Alberta.

Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: “The 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is a fascinating and valuable snapshot of the Canadian Prairies and the people living there during a time of tremendous significance in the shaping of our country.

“Not only are Census records one of the most vital resources for family history researchers but they help paint a picture of the times in which these people lived and the many challenges they overcame.”

1916 was a milestone year in Canada’s history, especially in the Prairies. On January 28, women in Manitoba were finally given the right to vote; this was the first time that right was granted in Canada, and thanks to the efforts of great women such as Nellie McClung, who appears in the 1916 Census living in Edmonton, Alberta.

It was also in 1916 that Canadian troops fought in some of the most significant battles of the First World War – the Battle of Mont Sorrel and the Battle of the Somme, in which Canada’s heroic role helped pave the way for a future Allied victory.

Many Canadians will be able to find ancestors in this collection and Census records are excellent for narrowing down individuals and families in a particular place and time. But family history enthusiasts can also scan the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to see if they are related to notable Canadians from the Prairie Provinces, including:

Nellie McClung – One of the most important leaders of Canada’s first wave of feminism, she is still remembered for her role in the women’s suffrage movement. McClung appears in the Census living in Edmonton with her husband Robert and their five children.

Tom Three Persons – A famous Blackfoot Indian bronco rider, he broke many bronco records and was the first native person to be the world’s bucking horse champion. Persons appears in the Census living with his wife, Wolf Long Face, on the Alberta Blood Indian reserve near Hanna, Alberta.

Chief David Crowchild – As a young adult, Crowchild worked in the rodeos and at Indian fairs in Alberta. He became a Chief in 1946 and stood as the Tsuu T’ina People’s leader for seven years from 1946 to 1953. He appears in the Census living with his parents on the Sarcee Indian Reserve near Edmonton, Alberta.

Sarah Ramsland – Born in Minnesota, Ramsland moved to Buchanan, Saskatchewan after she was married and became famous for being the first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. She is found in the Census living with her two children and husband, Max.

W. O. Mitchell – A famous author of novels, short stories and plays, he was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1914 and later settled in High River, Alberta. Mitchell is best known for his 1947 novel, Who Has Seen The Wind, which has sold close to a million copies in Canada. Two year-old William Ormond Mitchell appears in the Census living with his parents and older brother John, in Weyburn.

William “Bible Bill” Aberhart – Born in Kippen, Ontario in 1878, he later moved to Calgary, Alberta to teach. Called “Bible Bill” for his religious preaching, Aberhart helped found the Social Credit Party, which had power from 1935 to 1971. During this time he served as the Premier of Alberta, Minister of Education and Attorney General. He appears in the Census living in Calgary with his wife and two children.

The 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is available through a 14-day Free Trial at Ancestry.ca. The data is also available to those having Ancestry.com World Deluxe memberships.