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Census Records in Canada

Canada's first census was initiated by Intendant Jean Talon in 1666 in New France (present day Quebec). The census counted the colony's 3,215 inhabitants and recorded their age, sex, marital status and occupation.

Before 1871 (Canada's first national census) there were 98 colonial and regional censuses. The first national census of Canada was taken in 1871. The Census Act of May 12, 1870 stated that census-taking was to take place no later than 1 May. This first census of the Dominion following Confederation in 1867 counted the population of the four original provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario

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 many other details.

For each census, the records are arranged by province or territory, then divided into districts. Those districts usually corresponded with counties and cities. Districts were usually divided into sub-districts, corresponding with townships, parishes and larger towns.

What you Need to Know About Canadian Census Records

Prior to the first Dominion Census in 1871, census enumerations were conducted in different areas in various years. Many of those early records have not survived, including portions of the 1851 returns. As provinces joined Confederation in 1867, they were included in subsequent federal census returns, for example Prince Edward Island in 1881.

Questions Asked on Canadian Census Records

1842 Census Questions

1848 Census Questions

1851 Census Questions (taken in 1850)

1851 Agricultural Census Questions

1851 Personal Census Questions

1861 Agricultural Census Questions

1861 Personal Census Questions

1871 Census Questions

1881 Census Questions

1891 Census Questions

1901 Census Questions

1911 Census Questions
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