The last member of my family on my mother's side died in February 2014, and while alive refused to give me any information about our family or my maternal Grandfather. While my father's side is well documented (French Canadian Nadeaus), of my mother's side I only know the following:

  1. A 1921 Census record my son found online at a tree at ancestry.com (also confirmed by helpful people here, thank you!)
  2. A copy of family Baptismal/Birth Certificates of my Grandmother and Aunt that my Aunt's executor saved and later sent to me. My Aunt's certificate was also found/confirmed by the Sacred Heart Parish in Chapleau, but they said they couldn't find any further records.
  3. Some family stories.

The only records my son and I could find (1921 census) indicated James immigrated in 1919 from the US to Canada and that he was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).

James Edward Allan (name from Aunt's Baptismal certificate) lived in Chapleau, Ontario with his wife Elizabeth Allan (nee Hayes - originally from Newfoundland, daughter of John Hayes and Jane Getheral - information from Grandmother's cert. and Parish records) at the time of the June 1921 census along with my mother who was aged 1. The local cemeteries have a few 'Allan's, but I cannot prove any definitive link.

My Aunt's baptismal certificate which confirms she was born there in 1921, but was not included on the census for some reason.

There are two death scenarios for my Grandfather that I was told growing up:

  1. Died while working for CPR
  2. Died while prospecting and body was not found until spring thaw.

I was told he died when my mother was five and Aunt was four years old (1925), but my son and I cannot find any record of his death at that time anywhere.

I have - as much as possible online - investigated CPR's archives and Chapleau's local archives/library related to CPR and newspapers/obits around that time with no success. Such an event would have been newsworthy (and indeed several train accidents are exhaustively covered in the paper) but there is no mention of my Grandfather. This leads me to think the family stories are cover-ups as the older members of the family always refused to discuss him.

I have checked with the Library of Congress (in case he went back to the USA) as well as the deaths and marriage listings in Ontario, the various churches, the local mines and everywhere else I can think of with no success. I have also consulted with local genealogists (I live in Australia), who say that I simply have too little information to go on.

My Grandfather seems to have completely vanished - no records prior or after the 1921 census that we can definitively link to him - which is very frustrating.

To my knowledge, my sons and I are all that is left of the Allan family. Would be more than happy to discuss any further avenues of investigation!


  • James born in USA, abt 1891 - from Canadian 1921 census
    • 1890 - Elizabeth born in St. Johns, Newfoundland - with baptism/birth certificate available (family documents). Note - Birth date from certificate contradicts census date
    • 1919:
      • James immigrated to Canada from USA
      • Elizabeth immigrated to Canada from USA or Newfoundland
    • Not known if/when they married - no marriage record found (listed on census as housewife)
    • 1920 First daughter born but no birth/baptism record known
    • 1921 Census record (James Allen, 1921 Canada Census, Census Place: Chapleau, Algoma East, Ontario) says James was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) but CPR has no employee files for that area in this period
    • 1921 Second daughter born with baptism/birth certificate available (family documents)

Basically, I am running into the same problem as you're discussing - other than that record there is nothing else in either direction on the timeline - CPR has already informed me they have no records for that place or time period and I haven't been able to locate border crossing records for either adult.

Apologies for the mistakes - I'm not computer savvy and resorting to this out of lack of options. Was just trying to provide as much of my current research as possible.

  • 1
    A couple of notes to other readers regarding the 1921 Canada census link I added. 1) If you are in Canada, you CAN view that census, even if you do not have an active ancestry subscription. Just change the URL domain to .ca (search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/… ) (Libraries and Archives Canada links to ancestry.ca too). 2. You'll see that wife Elizabeth also immigrated in 1919 and has US citizenship because she was married to a US citizen. NB Newfoundland in 1921 was not part of Canada, but an independant Dominion from 1907 to 1949.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 12:38
  • 1
    Hi, All Thank you for the input. Ancestry does have the 1921 census record of the Allan family with one daughter in Chapleau - it should be visible in the link to the tree I provided - that's where I got my concrete information from. I did attempt to add the Baptismal certificates of my grandmother, Aunt and mother to the tree, but frustratingly it didn't seem to take. It's saved on the tree but doesn't show up properly. Apologies for the mistakes - I'm not computer savvy and resorting to this out of lack of options. Was just trying to provide as much of my current research as possible. Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 10:43
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    Danielle - we appreciate the link to the ancestry tree, but only those with active ancestry subscriptions can access it. It is better to summarize research information (within the guidelines that PolyGeo mentioned) in the question here. Could you clarify when and where your grandparents may have married, and whether they immigrated together?
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 15:09
  • 1
    G'day PolyGeo CPR's exact response was: "CP has no employee files from this area from this time period." Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 11:42
  • 1
    G'day bgwiehle Unfortunately, I do not have any knowledge of when or where my Grandparents married and if it was before or after they immigrated. I also do not know if they immigrated together or separately - if Newfoundland counted as 'not Canada' at the time. I did try looking for a marriage certificate with various Canadian archives, but I was unsuccessful. Same for death certificates. Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


This may be a bit of a long shot, but if James Edward Allan was born in the U.S. in 1891 and was still living there in 1918, it's possible (although not certain) that there's a U.S. WWI draft registration card for him.

All males born between a given date in 1877 and a given date in 1897 were required to register for the WWI draft. It was done pretty much in two passes, one in June 1917 and the second in Sept. 1918. If James was included in the first pass, there's probably a card for him.

The cards include D.O.B., occupation, marital status and a contact person (for married men usually their wives, for single men usually a parent or sibling).

Names may be misspelled and DOBs are often off by a year, but you might be able to find a short list of viable candidates, with the caveat that if he wasn't recorded in the Jun 1917 batch, he may have emigrated before the second pass happened in Sept. 1918.

WWI draft registrations are on FamilySearch.org:


and on Ancestry.com:


  • This is just a thought but would US draft dodging be a reason someone might appear in Canada a few years later with a new name? I know that there is no evidence for this.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 2:23
  • It's an interesting thought - I don't know how easy it was to avoid registration in 1917, but there are men in my database whose registration cards I've been unable to locate (yet). I do know that there were avoiders (called "slackers" at the time). Thousands of them were forcibly conscripted. Oddly, there were cases of Canadians relocating to the U.S. to avoid the Canadian draft at that time: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_Crisis_of_1917
    – cleaverkin
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 16:16
  • @cleaverkin - would you know how I might go about searching for a draft card? Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 8:22
  • I updated my reply to include links to the collections I know about, there may be other indexes from, e.g., Fold3 or MyHeritage, but these are the ones I've used.
    – cleaverkin
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 19:43

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