Census returns contain the official enumeration of the Canadian population. They are one of the most useful sources for genealogical research. They can help you discover when and where your ancestor was born, the names of parents and siblings, what year an immigrant arrived in Canada and manyother details.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
About the Records
Census returns are federal government records in our Statistics Canada fonds (RG 31). For each census, the records are arranged by province or territory, then divided into districts. Those districts were based on the federal electoral districts, which usually corresponded with counties and cities. Districts were usually divided into sub-districts, corresponding with townships, parishes and larger towns.
For most provinces, the returns of 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911 and 1916 list each person by name, with the following details:
The 1901 and 1911 returns also include date of birth, year of immigration and addressor location of land.
Census returns before 1851 are rarely complete for any geographical area and most list only the head of each household. Note that some portions ofthe 1851 Census have not survived.
More detailed information about census records can be found in the online help pages of our Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1666-1901, and our census databases of 1851, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911 and 1916.
The column headings are different in each census year. The Global Gazette [http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazgw/gazgw-0075.htm] provides links to various Web sites with blank forms showing the column headings.
Agricultural returns provide information such as lot and concession number, acreage, livestock and agricultural products. For the 1851 and 1861 Census, the agricultural returns are listed by the name of the head-of-household.The agricultural returns for 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 were not retained.
1851: For each sub-district (e.g., township), the agricultural returns follow immediately after the personal returns.
1861: For each county, the agricultural returns follow immediately after the personal returns for the whole county.
1871: The personal returns for each enumeration sub-district appear in schedule one. The agricultural returns are schedules three to five and are keyed to schedule one by page and line number rather than by name.