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AfriGeneas Canada Research Forum

LAC Answers about Release of 1921 Census

August 13, 2013

LAC Answers Questions about Release of 1921 Census

On Monday, August 12, 2013 I was pleased to be contacted by M. Fabien Lengellé, Director General, Content Access Branch of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) who was very happy to answer questions about the release of the 1921 Census of Canada raised by members of The Ontario Genealogical Society. I shall try to summarize his information below:

Why did LAC go to an outside source and eventually select Ancestry to manage this project?

Going to an outside provider:
• Freed up LAC staff and funds for other important digitization projects such as the upcoming First World War commemoration project and the microfilm reel project with Canadiana, including the Upper Canada Sundries now available on the Canadiana website - Héritage project.

Ancestry's proposal was far better than the others submitted as it:
• Offered a fully bi-lingual solution, a robust IT platform and almost no production delays;
• Was financially neutral to both users and the public purse - free access to the documents online; no staff time, effort or project coordination; no IT staff support; and, no cash investment from LAC;
• Provides a broad network of free distributors across Canada - municipal libraries -- which are covered by Ancestry province-wide licenses. This provides free access almost everywhere and promotes libraries, which is one of the LAC mandates.

Does Ancestry now have exclusive rights to these images?

• LAC retains all rights to the 1921 Canada Census and, after three (3) years, will get a copy of the index produced by Ancestry.
• LAC will then publish the index on their own website through their recently redesigned census platform.
• Other organizations are welcome to consult the census on the Ancestry site and prepare their own private index should it better meet their needs than the one created by Ancestry.

Why have the microfilms or images not been available at Library and Archives Canada until now?

• LAC has a microfilm copy for preservation purposes only.
• The free online images are a much better dissemination vehicle as they require no shipping and are available worldwide instantly.

How do people browse the free images?

• Go to the website; scroll down to the 1921 Census icon and click "Start browsing".
• Take a moment to read about the census, especially the questions asked.
• Click "Start browsing" again.
• On the right, choose a Province from the drop-down menu and a District. Then scroll through the Sub-Districts below to find the description of the one you seek.
• A screen saying "View Free Records with a Free Account" will appear the first time if you do not already have an Ancestry subscription. This is not the same as a trial subscription.
• Enter your name and an email address. Ancestry requires an email address for this free account to browse free records but not financial information (e.g., credit card information).
• If you are not comfortable providing your current email address, set up a free one first through Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or others who provide this service and use that one with Ancestry.
• Access through a library computer can be done anonymously.

What should be done if an error is discovered (e.g., missing pages or sections of pages or poorly digitized images)?

Temporarily, errors should be sent Ancestry will develop a feedback tool soon and errors will then be reported through it.

M. Lengellé wishes to acknowledge the daily help LAC receives from members such as ours who report errors in their census collection. This collaboration benefits everyone. I wish to thank M. Lengellé for contacting me with answers to our questions and for seeking others during the day when members contacted OGS about errors and image problems. We plan to have further conversations in the near future to continue the renewed dialogue between Library and Archives Canada and The Ontario Genealogical Society. I look forward to this opportunity.

Thank you all for your continued vigilance on behalf of our archival documents.

If further questions arise, please contact me at

Shirley L. Sturdevant, President
The Ontario Genealogical Society

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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