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Description found in Archives

Statistics Canada fonds [multiple media] 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

327.82 m of textual records
537 microfilm reels
ca. 96,878 maps
1 atlas
3 videocassettes (21 min, 52 s)
1 audio cassette (10 min)

Added language of material: French

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by Statistics Canada and its predecessors. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description. Cartographic material consists of federal and provincial electoral district plans and enumeration area number maps based on the 1941, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1966, 1971, 1976, and 1981 census; an atlas factice of sample Alberta townships; as well as an undated map titled "C.E. Belle, Commissaire. Hochelaga", of Montreal Parish pertaining to the 1861 census returns. Audio-visual material is related to public relations for the 1986 Census. Included are television commercials and instructional material in both English and French.

Textual records
32: Restricted by law
Textual records: microform
32: Restricted by law
Cartographic material
90: Open
Cartographic material: microform
90: Open
Moving images (video)
90: Open
Sound recordings
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown. Credit Library and Archives Canada.

Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)

Biography / Administrative history

On 16 May 1905, An Act respecting the Census and Statistics was passed, creating a permanent Census and Statistics Office under the Department of Agriculture. This Act codified the taking of Canadian censuses and the legal right of the new Office to collect regular statistics. The passage of this Act represented the first instance of a permanent Canadian statistical office with permanent staff. Archibald Blue, who had worked with statistics in the Department of Agriculture since 1901, was appointed Director of the new Office. On 01 April 1912, control of the Census and Statistics Office was transferred to the Department of Trade and Commerce. (75 years, pages 10-13, Urquhart, page 424) The Minister of Trade and Commerce, George Eulas Foster, established a ‘Departmental Commission on Official Statistics of Canada' (PC 1485) on 30 May 1912 to study "how to create and maintain a comprehensive system of general statistics adequate to the necessities of the country and in keeping with the demands of the time". Included among the recommendations of the final report was the "creation of a centralized statistical office which would co-ordinate government statistical activity and improve the quality of the work performed". (Beginnings in Canadian Statistics, page 127.)

A new Statistics Act (8-9 George V, chp 43) was passed in 1918, which created the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (DBS). The responsibility of the new bureau was: "to collect, abstract, compile and publish statistical information relative to the commercial, industrial, social, economic and general activities and condition of the people, to collaborate with all other departments of the Government in the compilation and publication of statistical records of administration according to the regulation, and to take the Census of the Dominion ... ". Moreover, the Act consolidated the statistical provisions of other legislation, in order to create one organization responsible for the collection of data about Canada. RH Coats, who had worked with the Census and Statistics Office since 1915, was appointed Dominion Statistician.

By 1919, work related to railway, canal, telephone and telegraph statistics had been transferred to the control of the DBS, with responsibility for vital statistics, and statistics of mining, forestry, governments, education, and prices soon following. In line with its new legislation, the DBS initiated the collection of statistics related to finance and internal trade, and launched negotiations with the Department of Labour to ensure efforts to collect data in this area were not duplicated. By the 1930s, the DBS was also responsible for the collection of regular monthly and annual data on wholesale and retail trade. As well, the department created a centralized processing area, with early computers, the services of which other government departments were able to use. 1938 saw the first introduction of a ‘Family Expenditure Survey', which, as the title indicates, discussed the expenses of an average family unit. (Urquhart, page 429; Worton, pages 82-83; 75 Years, pages 20-21)

The immediate post-war period saw a re-organization of the department, with two new Assistant Dominion Statistician positions created - Administration and Research. The twenty subject-based branches which previously had reported to the Dominion Statistician were re-organized into twelve divisions led by Directors. (Worton, pages 220-221) In 1948, An Act respecting the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (11-12 George VI, chp 45) was passed. While the original mandate established in the 1918 Act was maintained, a new clause was added declaring that the Bureau was "generally to organize a scheme of co-ordinated social and economic statistics pertaining to the whole of Canada and to each of the provinces thereof." Moreover, the use of ‘sampling' in the work of the Bureau, even during the censuses of population and agriculture, was authorized. The powers of the Dominion Statistician were also expanded. S/he was given the responsibility "to advise on all matters pertaining to statistical policy and to confer with the several departments of government to that end; to organize and maintain a scheme of co-operation in the collection, classification, and publication of statistics as between the several departments of government; to supervise generally the administration of this Act and to control the operations and staff of the Bureau; and to report annually to the Minister with regard to the work of the Bureau during the preceding year." (Worton, pages 229-230)

1953 saw the passage of another new Act - An Act to amend the Statistics Act. This legislation changed the information collected in the censuses of population and agriculture; expanded the collection of judicial statistics and the definition of ‘carrier' and ‘public utility' and amended secrecy provisions. By 1954, the Bureau had established statistics about the quarterly profits of industrial corporations, and, by 1957, statistics of consumer credit. (Worton, page 251) In 1956 and 1966 the quinquennial censuses were extended to all of Canada through Order-in-Council (PC 1955-1609 and PC 1965-449 respectively).

The Corporations and Labour Unions Returns Act (CALURA) was passed in April, 1962. This Act required that the DBS gather financial information about corporations and trade unions in Canada, in order that the extent and effects of nonresident ownership and control of corporations could be studied. In 1964, this legislation was amended to allow the Dominion Statistician access to Corporate Income Tax returns in order to decrease response burdens. (75 Years, pages 54-55. Worton, pages 297-298.) Through Order-in-Council 1965-29 (25 January 1965), departmental status was granted to the DBS. In 1969, the DBS was moved within the government organizational structure to report to Parliament through the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce.

On 1 May 1971, a new Statistics Act (19-20 Elizabeth II, chapter 15) was passed. Changing the name of the institution to ‘Statistics Canada', and the deputy minister to the ‘Chief Statistician of Canada' the mandate was only slightly changed from that passed in 1918 - although, greater emphasis was placed on co-ordination of data gathering between departments and provinces, and on data analysis. Provisions for the population and agricultural censuses of Canada to occur every five years, starting in 1971, were entrenched in the legislation, although the decennial census of population was to be that which occurred in 1971, and every ten years thereafter. Other surveys became less regulated. (75 Years, pages 59, 74. Worton, pages 285-286) Sylvia Ostry was appointed Chief Statistician in 1972. One of the major changes she introduced was a new organizational structure based upon ‘the field'. Incorporating the various branches established in a 1967 re-organization, this new ‘second highest' level of management would be led by ‘Assistant Chief Statisticians' who would then help direct the agency. Furthermore, Ostry introduced cost-recovery for ad hoc surveys. (1972-73 Annual Report (Statistics Canada), page 4. 75 Years, pages 59-60. Worton, pages 309-310)

The late 1970s saw a period of increased federal budget constraint, with program funding to Statistics Canada substantially cut by 1978 - although the government expected the "critical national economic series" to be maintained. In response to this challenge, the agency decreased surveys about manufacturing and primary industries and those endeavours which derived their information from institutional sources - including the Occupational Employment Survey, the Job-Vacancy Survey and the Canada Health Survey. (Statistics Canada Annual Report, 1978-1979. Worton, pages 310-11. 75 Years, pages 76-77)

In the early 1980s, the new Chief Statistician, Dr Martin Wilk, introduced a new era of review. Dr Wilk encouraged managers to examine the effectiveness of each program, within light of Statistics Canada activities. The result, as published in a 1983 auditor general's report was that "the Agency has now stabilized (with) ... a renewed sense of direction and purpose". (75 Years, pages 78-79. Worton, page 313)

With the launch of program review in 1984, the government called for a variety of expense reduction strategies. The Agency decided to manage the costs through decreasing basic program expenditures, further cost recovery programs, the use of youths from government youth employment programs for census enumerators, decreasing costs associated with the census and increased use of electronics, particularly the computer. (Worton, page 314. 75 Years, pages 79-80) In 1985, Dr Ivan Fellegi, was appointed Chief Statistician.

Throughout the 1990s, the department increasingly worked to take advantage of new electronic systems. E-publication became increasingly popular, with ‘the Daily', the department's "official release bulletin" first published electronically in 1995. (Stats Can website) In the 2001 census of agriculture the use of electronic filing was introduced for a sample population.

By 2004, Statistics Canada had become an organization with a solid international reputation. Reporting to the Minister of Industry, the Chief Statistician is supported by the work of seven fields: Analysis and Development, Business and Trade Statistics, Communications and Operations, Informatics and Methodology, Management Services, National Accounts and Analytical Studies, and Social, Institutions and Labour Statistics.

Additional information

Source of title
Statistics Act, 1970-71-72, c. 15, s. 1.

Further accruals are expected.


Other system control no.