There are lots of blogs out there to help you learn how to do family history research. This blog lets you watch our progress as we roll the Canadian Genealogy Survey out across the country. We'll also track developments in research on family history. It's a bit of a twist, but we hope you'll find something of interest. We welcome your comments.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, you can find it at:

Friday, 29 July 2011


About four years ago now, a major study, Canadians and their Pasts, surveyed just over 3000 Canadians about their activities and attitudes toward the various pasts, including that of their families. One question in the activities section asked respondents if they had undertaken any research on the history of their families in the past twelve months. 659, about one in five respondents, reported having done such work in the past twelve months.
While there were no discernable differences based on where people lived, there was a marked difference in the age and gender of genealogists. (see graphic below) The stepwise age structure, advancing up to 65 then receding sharply, reflected the bias in our national sample, which included a large number of the baby-boomers of the post-WWII era, obviously the most engaged portion of the community. Almost a third of genealogists come from the 50-65 year old cohort a much larger proportion than the overall survey respondents, but also reflecting that population bulge that has so influenced all aspects of consumption in the past half century.

The gender distribution also reflected the national sample overall, though the proportion of women doing genealogy was higher for every age range than was the norm for the national survey. This also mimics what we see in various national surveys that have been undertaken elsewhere in the world.

We hope to have occasional postings about the genealogical community as revealed in Canadians and their Pasts.

Comments on this demographic profile would be welcome.

Genealogists by age and gender (n=659)


  1. As an online publisher of genealogy data in Canada we are interested in your survey. Our Facebook page gives us some insight into the demographics of those interested enough to "like" our page.
    In a general sense we get a similar distribution to yours but our peak in both genders is shifted to the right by one "bin" and a slower "pick-up" in the totals in the younger bins.
    We also see a 2:1 difference in gender, and my general impression from meeting genealogists around Ontario is the majority of "active" genealogists are female. Not that the male members are less "active", it is just their "population" which is smaller.
    On a more general note we also find that while a great many people express an interest in their family history, only a small portion of these will continue to conduct any sustained research into the subject.

  2. I'm not surprised by the age groupings. I started researching my family when my son was young but gave it up because it was too time-consuming (there was always another place to look, another letter to write, etc). Now that I'm retired, I have all the time in the world to devote to it - so when my days slip away into the "black hole" of research, I no longer feel guilty.

  3. There appears to be a slight drop off in male participation from 40-50 to 51-64 (5.1/yr to 4.9/yr) if you adjust for the number of years in the cohorts.