Well, someone from the genealogy group was nice enough to send me the census page and with a little tweaking (and printing, scanning and saving so I could crop it) I now have the 1871 Canadian census that has Edmund L. C. Robinson and his parents and siblings. Its still a little hard to read but I feel very confident that its the right family.
Yesterday I went to the library and used Ancestry Library Edition and found some interesting information. I found John Robinson (Edmund's assumed father) in the 1881 Canadian census as a 'widower', living with three of his children, St. George (that's how he's listed), Herold B., and Hattie A.; his occupation is 'Tinsmith', which is the same as it was for 1871. I then started with the other children, since I already knew about Edmund, being that he's my direct ancestor.
This is where collateral genealogy research comes in, but I have to be honest in that I'm still not COMPLETELY sure I found the right ones, but since I usually listen to my genealogical instincts, I'll go with what my gut says. That doesn't mean that I'll be right but well, if you read this tell me what you think.
I started with 'St.' George since I thought that maybe, just maybe he would be listed just like that more than once. Believe it or not he was. I found a 'St.' George in the 1900 census in New Mexico of all places, but the kicker was who was living with him. His FATHER John. Upon doing this research I was going on the fact that all the children of John and Eliza (or Mary) Robinson were born in Canada and that both John and his wife were born in England. It stands to reason that any hits with that criteria would stand out.
According to the 1900 US Census, John was born July 1819 in England, he was 80 years old, widowed and was a 'retired' Tinsmith. It also said that John came to the US in 1891 and had been there 9 years. This made some sense because I hadn't found him in the 1891 Canadian census, but I had assumed that IF they had come to the US from Canada that they would go to Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota or somewhere just over the border. New Mexico kind of threw me for a loop. Living next door to John and George was Hattie McCullough who was also born in Canada and had a 'niece' living with her Nannie who was born in Illinois. In later census records she was listed has Hattie's daughter.
I traced the second oldest child, William to Iowa and with him I also found his death certificate at the FS site which provided another clue, but again, its ONLY a clue. The death certificate was from the District of Columbia where he died. William Hamilton Robinson, born 13 Jan 1849 in Bethel, Ontario and died 1 May 1928 in DC. He was buried in Iowa. His parents were listed as John Robinson and Mary SHIMPTON. I got excited about this because I had now found her listed with the same two initials that were in the book inscribed to Edmund 'M' and 'E'. Her name could be Mary Eliza or Mary Elizabeth or vice versa. I immediately started trying to find any other references to those two names but didn't.
All in all I traced all the children through the US census records 1900-1920 and even one in 1880. The places ranged from New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and Michigan and even some Ohio. I also even managed to find a child of one that had lived in Cook County, but haven't done a more thorough search on him. I'm going back to the library tomorrow for more research and have an e-mail contact that had a bit of info and I want to see if he has more or if what he posted on Rootsweb was all he had.
Sometimes your instincts are all you have when it comes to genealogy research, just like famous detectives sometimes you have to go with what your gut says or that hunch you've been thinking about because every once in a while, that hunch could snowball into a lot of information especially for a genealogist.