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Census of Canada, 1911

The Canadian census bill was passed after seven years of debate and discussion.


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As reported in a news release on this website, the Canadian census bill—Senate Bill S-18—was passed by the Canadian House of Commons on June 28, 2005, after seven years of debate and discussion.  It received Royal Assent a day later, on June 29th.

Under this amended legislation, personal census records taken between 1911 and 2001 will be made available through the Library and Archives of Canada 92 years after each census is taken. For example, the 1921 Census will be released to the public in 2013. Note that citizens requesting that their census information be withheld from public research, can have their wishes accommodated through the Privacy Act.

On 21 July, 2005, the census was made available online to all researchers at the Library and Archives of Canada website under the title "The Census of Canada, 1911" at <>.

The 1911 Census was the fifth general census of Canada, and it was collected on June 1st, 1911 by a  group of 9,703 enumerators who were sent out to all corners of Canada. By February of 1912, all reports were received for 1911. It covered the provinces of  British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The two northern territories, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, were by then a part of Canada.

The records, of which there are 13, are based on census schedules. They are -

    1. Population
    2. Mortality, Disability and Compensation
    3. Houses, Buildings and Fruit
    4. Field Crops - Agriculture - Grain and Other Field Crops for the Harvest Year 1910
    5. Agriculture - Hoed Crops, Tobacco, Hops and Grass Seeds in 1910 and Field Crop Areas in 1911
    6. Agriculture - Animal and Animal Products
    7. Farm and Urban Values
    8. Forest Products
    9. Manufactures
    10. Churches, Schools, etc.
    11. Fisheries
    12. Dairy Factories
    13. Mineral Products

The population schedule described people in terms of their religion, ethnic origin, age, gender, education, occupation, and social condition. It also lists the head of the house and the relationship of each of the people in the house to the head. It names these people.

In 1955, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics sought the authority to destroy the paper census schedules. They were microfilmed, and as a result, only the microfilmed copies remain of the 1911 census, but all of Schedule 1 was microfilmed. However, columns 38 to 41 of Schedule 1—questions related to infirmities—were lost on approximately 75 percent of the reels.

The introductory pages of each census lists the year of the census, the name of the province, as well as the name and number of the district and sub-district. The database is listed by geographic location only - it is not searchable by family name.

I have examined the census returns for my hometown in Nova Scotia, and although they are very faint, Schedule 1 is readable.

Microfilm of the census will be available for on-site consultation at the Library and Archives Canada and for inter-institutional loan in the upcoming weeks. The website suggests that there may be "slower performance during peak usage periods (weekends between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST)".

At this time, Canadian Connections wishes to thank Liberal Senator Lorna Milne from Brampton, Ontario, and Gordon Watts, co-chair of the Canadian Census Committee for their efforts in bringing this to fruition, and to the Global Genealogy website <> for allowing Mr. Watts to keep various interested parties posted on a timely basis.

Also, we would like to thank all of those who wrote and contacted the various politicians and Statistics Canada over the seven years it took to get the census released. A heartfelt "Thank You" to everyone.

Source Information: Canadian Connections, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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