Vousdens in Canada

Canadian Online Genealogical Research

I started Canadian genealogical research from scratch when I began to look for Vousdens there. There are some excellent starting points for online genealogy research and information, including the Canada Index at Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet, the Canadian Genealogy Centre of the Library and Archives Canada, and the Automated Genealogy web sites.

Cyndi's Canada Index has links to scores of useful sites. The Genealogy Centre has a wide range of searchable databases, downloadable guides and a bibliography of reference sources for Canadian genealogy.

In 2006 The Atlas of Canada celebrated 100 years of mapping Canada's geography and history. To commemorate this Anniversary the Canadian national mapping agency made available a downloadable free collection of maps of Canada. They are a valuable aid to understanding and finding your way around this vast country.

Canada 1881 and 1901 Censuses

According to the LDS Family Search transcription of the 1881 Canadian Census, there were no Vousdens living in Canada at that time.

The Automated Genealogy site hosts a free, volunteer-produced online index to the 1901 Census of Canada, transcribed from the census images provided by the National Archives of Canada. The index is complete with over 5.6 million lines transcribed, links to the images of the original census forms and over 60,000 links to related records. The index is free to browse or search.

A surname index is available for all transcribed records. There are no entries for Vousden but there are Vausden, Vouston and Voustone surnames. At first I thought that all three might be variations or mis-spellings of Vousden but I am now of the view now that the Voustons and Voustones may well have been accurate spellings in the Canadian census.

Canada map
Map of the modern Provinces of Canada, with the location of Assiniboia District indicated by the red dot.

However, I am quite sure that the Vausdens are indeed Vousdens, since I already have a UK 1881 census record of the one family of this name in Canada in 1901. Moreover, my own reading of the original census page image is that the written surname is clearly VOUSDEN. In 1901 James and Martha Vousden and their family, eleven people in all, were resident in the remote township of Alameda, in Assiniboia district in The Territories province. The family immigrated into Canada in 1889, except for the eldest son James who had arrived ahead of the rest.

Assiniboia map
Map of the Assiniboia District in The Territories, now Saskatchewan, where Estevan and Alameda (near Oxbow) are shown located close to the border with Dakota in the United Sates of America.

Alameda (2001 Census pop. 311) today is in Saskatchewan, 34 mi/55 km ENE of the city of Estevan, and close to the US border. The area is known for coal mining, electric power generation, and oil and natural gas production, with farming and agriculture remaining an important part of the local economy. Not only is there extensive farming in the immediate area, but within 1 hour travel of Estevan, more than 40,000 people live in rural communities.

Vousdens in Canada 1901 census
Name Sex Relationship to
head of family
or houshold
or divorced
Date of birth Age
at last
James Vousden M Head M July 27 1847 53
Martha Vousden F Wife M March 9 1849 52
James Vousden M Son S July 6 1869 31
Elizabith Vousden F Daughter ? June 26 1871 29
William Vousden M Son S June 21 1873 27
Charlie Vousden M Son S November 1878 22
Frank Vousden M Son S June 1 1880 20
Rose Vousden F Daughter S September 4 1885 15
Samuel Vousden M Son S April 9 1889 11
Sarah Vousden F Daughter S March 25 1892 9
William A Vousden M Grand Son S May 25 1893 7

This James and Martha Vousden and family is the same one as enumerated at Marl Place Cottage, Brenchley, Kent, England in the 1881 census, notwithstanding some minor discrepancies, for example, Charlie's age. James Vousden was born in about 1848 in Brenchley, Kent. He married Martha Wheatley, daughter of Elizabeth Wheatley, in 1868 in Tunbridge. Martha was born in 1848 or 1849 in Lamberhurst, Kent. Their daughter Elizabeth married Wesley Lester, 21 March 1892, Ernestown, Ontario, Canada. In 1881 the family was enumerated as follows:

James and Martha Vousden and family in UK 1881 census
Name Sex Relationship to
head of family
or houshold
or Divorced
Age Birthplace Occupation
James Vousden M Head M 33 Brenchley, Kent Agricultural Labourer
Martha Vousden F Wife M 32 Lamberhurst, Kent
James Vousden M Son U 11 Brenchley, Kent Scholar
Elizabeth Vousden F Daughter 9 Brenchley, Kent Scholar
William H Vousden M Son 7 Clapham, Surrey Scholar
Walter Vousden M Son 4 Brenchley, Kent
Charlie Vousden M Son 5 months Brenchley, Kent

Canada 1906 and 1911 Censuses

Returning to Canada, the same Automated Genealogy web site has several projects under development, including an Index to the 1906 Census of the Northwest Provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. (Note: the 1906 Census only covered these three prairie provinces, there was no census of the other provinces in 1906.)

There are two Vousdons in the limited 1906 census, both listed as Heads of Household and single. It would seem likely that this Frank is the one in the 1901 Canadian census and Walter may be his brother, who is listed in the UK 1881 census. They are living in Frobisher, a small township on Highway 18 between Estevan and Oxbow. The census image also includes details of amounts of livestock they own. One can only wonder what happened to the rest of the family - whether they moved to another part of Canada (not included in this regional census), leaving these two sons behind, or perhaps they returned to England.

Frank and Walter Vousdon in Northwest Provinces 1906 census
Name Age Province District Subdistrict
Place of birth Year of
Frank Vousdon 23 SK Assiniboia East District 09 England 1889 Frobisher
Walter Vousden 30 SK Assiniboia East District 09 England 1889 Frobisher

Finally, the Automated Genealogy volunteers are now indexing the 1911 Census. This site is far from complete but transcribed pages can be browsed, however, currently search facilities are only available at the enumeration district level.

At the time of writing (April 2007), the 1911 index has only one Vousden: Sydney Vousden, single, 19 years of age, born in September 1892. Sydney was enumerated in Enumeration District 3 (Stewarttown Village), Esquesing, Halton, Ontario. The original census page shows that he was working on a farm and had only arrived that year from England. [The indexes to the UK Civil Registers of Births contain no Sydney Vousden born in the year 1892. However, there are two in the following year, either one one of which, or neither, may have been the Sydney who arrived in Canada in 1911.] In addition, in 1911, there were a James and Matilda Vosden, aged 78 and 65 years, resident in Enumeration District 22: Southwold, Elgin West, Ontario. They may or may not have been Vousdens.

Saskatchewan Homesteading

The Saskatchewan Homestead Index Project has compiled and published online records of the men and women who, from 1872 to 1930, under the terms of the Dominion Lands Act, took part in the homestead process in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is the only province where the original homestead records are still available for public research and also where there is a comprehensive card index to the homestead files. The records are the key to the province's settlement history.

In 2003, volunteers of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society (SGS) began the Saskatchewan Homestead Index Project (SHIP). With the encouragement and co-operation of the Saskatchewan Archives Board, the SGS is making the entire homestead index of some 330,000 card entries available in searchable digital format. The database includes 8 Vousden records, comprising Charlie, Frank, James senior and junior, Walter and William Henry. These are almost certainly the same Vousden family members as described above.

Using the index file number, the researcher can obtain information about the settler such as nationality, place of origin and family makeup. There may also be various sworn statements and information about the homestead itself including required agricultural improvements on the land before ownership was granted; in some cases, correspondence about matters concerning the homestead may be included.

For further information about the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society and the Saskatchewan Archives Board, see the SGS web site and the Archives web site. The LINKS pages on both sites are very helpful for anyone undertaking family or local history research in Saskatchewan or Canada generally.

Estevan Death Records

The Estevan Community Access Project compiled and published online records of thirteen local cemeteries, including that at Bienfait, where the deaths of two Vousdens are recorded (on site recording of data from headstones at cemetery by Rosemary Mack, May 1992, and compiled and submitted by her, October 1994). The Project appears to have closed but may still be contactable via the Estevan Public Library.

Bienfait Civic Cemetery, Bienfait, Saskatchewan, Canada
Name Birth Date/Age Death Date s=
VOUSDEN, Amy Elizabeth 1886 26 Jan 1937 s= Walter Vousden
VOUSDEN, Walter 1881 14 Mar 1940 s= Amy Elizabeth Vousden

Vousdens in Canada Today

In June 2006 the online Canada411 white pages telephone directory listed 18 Vousdens, resident in three of the twelve provinces. There are two entries in British Colombia (in Sorrento and Chilliwack), two in Nova Scotia (both in Lunenburg), and the remainder are in Ontario. Ontario's Vousdens are distributed between Port Carling, London, Brampton, Orangeville, Scarborough, Stratford, Oakville, Mississauga, Dooley Creek and George. There are no business entries with the Vousden surname.

The Library and Archives Canada website has a record of an M.A. thesis intriguingly titled "Shades of grey : the development of the criminal and anarchistic characters in the novels of Wilkie Collins by Philip J. Vousden", at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Western Ontario (Dept. of English), 1984.

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