What is the correct procedure for setting up regional categories?

+11 votes

I am getting ready to fix the Canadian categories so they conform with the multilingual category rules.  This means getting rid of the "Canada" category and creating a "Canada (en)" category and a "Canada (fr)" category.  Duplicate subcategories will have to be created for provinces and cities.

Here's a link to the style guide:


The style guide says: "Canadian city and town categories should always be named in the format 'City, Province.'  These are subcategories of the provincial categories."

This is different from United States cities.  In the United States, cities are named with "City, State" but they are not subcategories of the state.  For example:  "Laguna Beach, California" is the name of a category, but it is not a subcategory of "California."  It is a subcategory of "Orange County, California."  The category "California" does not have any cities as subcategories, because they are nested under the different counties.

By contrast, Canadian cities are supposed to be subcategories of the province.  This means that both the counties/RCM (Regional County Municipality) and the Region are irrelevant.  For example:  the city of Saint-Raymond, Quebec would have an English category name "Saint-Raymond, Quebec" and it would be a subcategory of "Quebec."  The French category name would be "Saint-Raymond, Québec" and would be a subcategory of "Québec."  The fact that it is in the RCM Portneuf and the region Capitale-Nationale would be ignored.

Here is a current Category for Waterville, Quebec:  http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Waterville%2C_Qu%C3%A9bec

Waterville is currently a subcategory of "Québec," but it is also a subcategory of "Coaticook Regional County Municipality, Québec" and "Villes du Québec."  Those last two shouldn't be there, right?  Because unlike the US, Canadian cities aren't nested under county subcategories.  Regional County Municipalities should not be categorized. And "Villes du Québec" also should not be a category.  That would be like having a separate "Cities in California" category.

So those last two categories should not be there.  "Waterville, Québec" will remain where it is under the "Québec" category and a new "Waterville, Quebec" category will be added under the English "Quebec" category, without anything superfluous.

All of the cities in Québec will be modified in this way.  Profiles will have to move to either the French or the English depending on, I presume, either the ancestor's primary language or the language of the community in which they lived.

All of the French Canadian cemeteries will have to have two categories, one for English and one for French.

Most of the profiles in Québec are actually from the colonial era (many from the 18th century) and it looks like pretty much all of those categories will have to be redone as well, but I wanted to get modern Québec (and the English Quebec) straightened out first.

I was rereading the rules before posting this and I got stuck on this paragraph:  "Townships and rural municipalities should be used for categories, rather than the small communities within them.  For example, the township Chapple, Ontario consists of a community called Barwick along with the surrounding farms, so the category is [[Category:Chapple, Ontario]]."

But when you click on the link, it takes you to "Chapple, Ontario" which is a subcategory of ... "Chapple Township, Ontario."  Isn't "Chapple" itself the township?  There shouldn't be a "Chapple Township, Ontario" category.  Based on the rules, "Chapple, Ontario" should be the only category, and it should be subcategorized under the province "Ontario."

To make things even worse, "Chapple Township, Ontario" isn't even categorized under Ontario.  It's categorized under "Rainy River District, Ontario" (which finally takes us to "Ontario").  The Rainy River District category is filled with other townships.  I randomly clicked on "Emo Township, Ontario" and that has a subcategory of "Emo, Ontario."

The "Ontario" category is all sorts of bizarre.  I assumed it would be filled only with districts (like someone confused the US county rules with the Canadian rules) but it has cities, too, except they're prefaced with "City of" or "Town of."  For example, "City of Hamilton(Modern), Ontario."  This all seems completely contrary to the rules.  There's a whole mess of categories in Ontario that have weird spacing and formatting.  

Okay...I'm not even going to look at the other provinces.

Occam's Razor might suggest that I'm the crazy one here.  Please help me understand all of this.  The rules for Canada seem very straightforward and simple.  It's literally five sentences.  Am I missing something here?  I realize that a lot of these categories might have been created before the style guide was written, but I can't fathom how the example that was used in the style guide is wrong.

Please help me understand if I've got this right.

in Policy and Style by Sarah Heiney G2G6 Mach 5 (53.6k points)
Good question. I have an ancestor who was one of the founders of Hull, Quebec. I'd like for profiles for him and his compatriots to be in a category that has a wee bit of history and includes a link to a free-space page that explicates more history. Apparently the city of Hull is now part of the city of Gatineau, which doesn't seem like the right place to look for Hull, but I couldn't even figure out where to find (or create) a category for Gatineau.
Darn it. I've been working on Newfoundland place-categories, and I've been doing towns as subcategories of regions. I might have to revamp everything now.

The final destination category for a profile will be "City, Province" or "Town, Province."  Don't worry about needing to revamp--once the correct categories are set up, the Categorization Project can take on re-directing profiles to them.  Your existing work will still be very valuable.
Whoops, meant to answer not comment.

6 Answers

+4 votes

Part of the problem is likely the fact that some people just extrapolate how they think categories should be named from the categories that exist and don't read the style guides.

Another part of the problem is that people may infer place names solely from records without familiarity with those places; for example census districts and sub-districts of Ontario are often conflated as 'places'. The names and boundaries of census divisions may or may not be the same as the political boundaries. In old census records the 'big' cities (Toronto; Ottawa; Hamilton; London, etc.) are essentially treated as 'county-equivalent' designations - usually listed as 'City of ___ ", with city wards treated equivalent to townships. Similarly people working from court records may conflate judicial districts as places. (and while it is unlikely anyone would use them here, there are also the postal divisions, electoral districts, 'police villages', etc.)

Then of course, like most places, there are the actual changes in boundaries, and names - amalgamations and divisions (see this page from the Ontario Archives), as well as the intermingling of 'official' names and 'historic' names for different purposes. For example I commonly see modern lists of cemeteries use 'historic' counties.

There is also no doubt the question of the contributors interpretation of what constitutes a 'town' versus a 'small community' and where villages (incorporated and unincorporated) fit between the two...

To give you an example: Someone born in Port Credit in 1960 (still a village) should be categorized (strictly speaking) under "Toronto Township, Ontario", a sibling born in 1965 would properly be under "Port Credit, Ontario" (Port Credit became a town in 1961) and another sibling born in 1970 would be under "Mississauga, Ontario" (In 1968 Port Credit was amalgamated with the Town of Mississauga, which was essentially the former Toronto Township less Port Credit, and together became the city of Mississauga). Now another contributor comes along and sees the separate category "Port Credit, Ontario" and makes it a sub-category of "Mississauga, Ontario" (which in a broader sense is correct). Now yet another contributor comes along sees the community of Port Credit as a sub-category of Mississauga so they read the guidelines and decide an incorporated village is closer to a town than to a 'small community' and adds a sub-category for "Streetsville, Ontario". Another contributor, who didn't see the guidelines now creates "Dixie, Ontario" as a sub-category of Mississauga, Ontario since Port Credit and Streetsville exist (Dixie, formerly Syndenham, was a village but was never incorporated)... etc.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (294k points)
You're right Rob.  Even "Canada" is an anachronism depending on the time period.  I was putting "Quebec, Canada" in the location fields for my ancestors, and only recently learned that many of them were actually born in "Lower Canada" or "Canada East."  If I had categorized them under Quebec, it would have been wrong.  (Most of the profiles categorized under Quebec are wrong.)

My first concern is with getting all of the current cities and towns properly categorized.  This has been done for the United States categories.  There are still problems, I'm sure, with properly categorizing American ancestors depending on city and county borders that have changed over time, but in theory all of the current US location categories are accurate for 2016.  I hope that I can do for Canada what has already been done for the US categories.  A place like Port Credit, Ontario would have to have a clear description like "Before 1961, use this category" added to it.
Sarah, I'd offer the thinking we've done on Indonesia categories . http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Indonesia_Category_Conventions.  There we had the benefit of starting from scratch without a lot of existing categories attached to profiles.  

Recognizing there has only been a country "Canada" since 1863, just as there has only been an Indonesia since 1945, suggests you might benefit from doing what we did -- Have one higher category for all the current places, and a separate, historic higher category, for all the historic but not current places.  This permits standardizing current locations in a suitable way that one does not have to carry over to historic categories when that becomes awkward,
+4 votes

Okay, coming from BC, the "City, Province" format works fine, because BC never had any counties that I ever hear of. (We do have regional districts, but they're fairly recent, and while they do fit in between the province and the municipalities, I gather that counties are very different animals.)

On the other hand, in Ontario, the picture is very different. For one thing, I have seen some instances where there is more than one town with the same name, only in different counties. (That may be why Ancestry insists on including the first three digits of the Postal Code on some Ontario town names -- to distinguish between them.)

I'm inclined to say that, at least for Ontario, the format should be: "City, County/District/Regional Municipality, Province" even though that changes over time, as the counties kept getting divided and shuffled. For example, I'm currently living in Fort Erie, which would thus be categorised, in reverse chronological order, as:

Fort Erie, Niagara Region (whenever they decided to rebrand to the present) 

Fort Erie, Regional Municipality of Niagara (1970 to whenever they decided to rebrand)

Fort Erie, Welland County (Ontario) (1867 to 1970)

Fort Erie, Welland County (Canada West) (1857 to 1867)

Bertie Township, Welland County (1845 to 1857)

Bertie Township, Lincoln County (Canada West) (1841 to 1845)

Bertie Township, Lincoln County (Upper Canada) (1792 to 1841)

Bertie Township, Nassau District (Upper Canada) (1791 to 1792)

Bertie Township, Nassau District (Province of Quebec) (1788 to 1791)

Bertie Township, Montreal District (Province of Quebec) (1784 to 1788)

I imagine that other places share a similarly complicated history. Therefore, whatever format gets adopted, I strongly recommend putting notes on the category pages saying things like:

For events in this location before [date], see [category].

For events in this location after [date], see [category].

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (691k points)
+3 votes
We are just getting started with categories for Denmark. The geographic history is relatively stable by comparison to some areas, helped along by the monarchy and constitutions adoption and maintenance of a state church beginning in 1536 and still continuing to some extent today.  However, the way the parishes are organized has changed over the years at least four major times with the length of an organizational period getting considerably shorter in recent years.  The connection between the organizational changes is very very important for genealogical purposes because finding the right parish is essential to finding a family with the patronymic naming system continuing to be used especially in rural areas through the mid to late 1800's. To complicate matters, we can't stick with just the parish name and ignore the higher levels because there are several duplicates in parish names and one parish name in particular that has been used at least 4 or 5 times.

In some areas of the country, village and town names have stayed stable for hundreds of years while in other instances its almost like a language change.

There are two fairly long periods of stable county organization from 1662-1793 and from 1793 to 1970.

I'm studying the history, but right now I'm leaning in the direction of town, parish, county, country for most of the country with notes like those mentioned for time periods referring to the other time period.

In cites with multiple parishes, though, using this format will put the smallest unit in second place.

It might make more sense to just adopt for the whole country an order like parish, town or city, county, country and leave out the city where there is more than one parish in the city. I need to explore and check, but I think it likely that for most of these multiple parish cities, the city name is closely related to the county name.

I also need to see what the Sweden and Norway projects did as the parishes are equally important there for the same reasons and they have similar history having been governed for many years by the same monarchs.

There have been more administrative divisions than towns, parishes and counties but for the most part they are not as relevant for either genealogical purposes or location purposes.  And if you know the correct parish and county, it isn't hard to determine what other administrative divisions fit the location.

by Mary Jensen G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
+3 votes
Is the creation of these new Canadian categories underway as of yet?

I've been struggling in the Lambton County area of Ontario with my ancestors - I had been wondering why the category setup seemed so confusing compared to the US.

I do know the town where I was born, Sarnia, changed several times. But trying to find the right category was a nightmare. I gave up trying to find the correct city categories and satisfied myself with tagging them with the Cemetery categories, at least, as they seem better organized.

I'd be willing to help out in Ontario, at least, in the recatigorization project.
by Kristen Louca G2G6 Mach 3 (33.2k points)
It's useful to remember that on the internet, categories need not be rigidly hierarchical. A category can have more than one parent category (meaning that it's a subcategory of both parents). For example, you could create a category for a place, and then add both Upper Canada and Ontario as parent categories. (We've done that sort of thing in the United States, too.)

It looks to me like Sarnia ought to be relatively simple, since Wikipedia indicates that it's been "Sarnia" for most of its history, even when boundaries changed. However, the cities that didn't used to be [art of Sarnia, but got added to it, may need their own separate categories for the years when they were separate cities. What categories do you see as needed to represent Sarnia over time, and what parent categories do you see as needed?
I think the problem I'm having with the current implementation is the fact that "Sarnia" has so many nested sub-categories and the description of the category does not make it clear which category is supposed to be used to attach profiles to for which time period. Not to mention, they all have "City of" or "Town of" before the actual name.
What I was expecting to see was:
Canada > Ontario > Lambton County > Sarnia, Ontario
And then from the "Sarnia, Ontario" category, have the same description that is there now but add links akin to "From X date to Y date, use Z category." Then, ideally, I would have liked to see the different versions of Sarnia as sub-categories of "Sarnia, Ontario", so you could either follow the link in the description or find it in the sub-category.
Currently, the nesting seems confusing to me. It is:
Canada > Ontario > Lambton County > City of Sarnia (modern) [What is modern? Is this supposed to be a landing category for current Sarnia births? Description doesn't say] > City of Sarnia-Clearwater, Ontario > City of Sarnia (original) > Town of Sarnia, Ontario > Sarnia, Ontario (and also Town of Sarnia, Canada West).
A lot of these have copy/pasted descriptions.
There is no clear indication as to which time period is supposed to be used for which category.
Ideally I think all the sub-categories should be under the "Sarnia, Ontario" category with proper descriptions/instructions to tell people which category should be used for which time period.
I'm not sure what to do about Clearwater, though, as it was part of Sarnia at one point and then wasn't.
I am posting about this on the Categorization Project google group right now--I will make a new G2G post and link you all to it when the time comes :)

There is definitely an issue with Sarnia! It seems like every name or governmental structure that ever existed for Sarnia has been used as the name or definition of a separate category, and those separate categories have been nested inside each other like a series of Russian nesting dolls.

It looks like it would make sense for Sarnia, Ontario to be the only category. The category description for that category should explain the various changes of names and boundaries that affect the conceptual definition of "Sarnia." 

I'm aware of similar issues for some U.S. jurisdictions. Not all have been handled particularly well (at least not yet), but here are a couple of categories I've been involved with where category descriptions have been used (with some success, I think) to convey information about confusing changes, as well as about related communities:

Based on Categorization Project discussions, Ellen is correct:  the destination category would be simply "Sarnia, Ontario," and it would be nested under a variety of historical and modern jursidictions (such as "Canada West").  But profiles would simply be categorized with "Sarnia, Ontario."  I'm preparing a new G2G post for this topic.

Once the basic framework is set up, we can work on exceptions.  (The town in Québec that I'm doing a One Place Study on might fall on that list of exceptions.)
Thanks for the insight. Glad it's going to be fixed soon! I think the endless nesting of all the different Sarnias was what was confusing to me initially.

I also cannot seem to find "Watford, Ontario", which is also part of Lambton County at some point. I believe it became part of Warwick Township at some point or another, though this is another one where I'm unsure where to tag ancestors - I'm not even sure Watford has it's own category beyond the "Watford Cemetery, Watford, Ontario" cemetery category that I've been tagging ancestors buried there.

I'll keep an eye out for the new G2G discussion. I just recently joined the Categorization project. I don't think I've joined the Google GRoup yet, though.
+2 votes
Hi all,

Just took a look at the Quebec ones, the higher categories Quebec and Québec should be merged, anybody can understand the name whether with or without accent, and since the proper name is with the accent, the Quebec one should go.  No sense in duplicating the category English/French, since normally there should not be individual profiles in there.  There are a few, which I will get properly located, creating categories as needed.
by Danielle Liard G2G6 Pilot (677k points)
+3 votes
This is an old thread. Regarding Ontario, my request re the new categorization gadget was:

This is indeed a wonderful gadget. A few of us, however, are fixing the Ontario, Canada, location categories. A while back some categories were changed to reflect legal entities rather than the location names that Ontarians and Wikipedia actually use. For example, Municipality of X (Original), Town of X (Modern), City of X, etc. These are in the process of being changed back to X, Ontario. In the meantime, we'd like to ask WikiTreers to refrain from categorizing their Ontario ancestors until this process is complete, hopefully in a month or two. Thank you!

Please see: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/624002/did-you-see-the-new-categorization-features

Way to go Danielle for taking on Quebec!
by Laurie Cruthers G2G6 Pilot (168k points)

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