Accessing Census of Canada Records

New September 2, 2017:

The 1921 census for Canada is now available on the Library and Archives Canada website! 

With over 9 million names to discover, the database also includes information such as nationality, religion, marital status, age, education, 
profession and much more. 

Explore the Database here. 

December 27, 2011:

The first census was taken in England in the year 1801. There was a great controversy about social problems at the time --
specifically whether the English population was increasing or decreasing and whether this was a cause of increasing poverty
in England. In Canada, there are Heads of Families census records taken in 1842 by Upper Canada, include the name of the head 
of each family and the number of family members broken down by age groups and by male and female family members - only the names of
the heads of families are given. Starting in 1851, (actually this census was taken in 1852),the census records names of all
family members: names and ages of all males and females. The nominal census is what is most important for purposes of this web site.

The Canadian Census records are decennial, i.e. taken every 10 years.

The first census taken after Confederation was compiled in 1871. This census was then taken every 10 years, in 1871, 1881, 1991, 1901 and 1911.
The 1911 census is the latest census to be released to the public. These census records are of tremendous value to genealogists 
and historians.It allows for the tracking of our ancestors as a family unit every ten years, from 1851 to 1911.

Historical Development of the Census, beginning in England in 1801 Here is an excerpt from England in the Eighteenth Century, by J.H. Plumb: 1801 Census of England
Library and Archives Canada, on Wellington Street, in downtown Ottawa, are the keepers of official Canadian Census Records. Robert Sample has provided some guidelines for using the 1901 census records: Hi Al: I have been referring to the 1901 census quite a bit and I am finding a lot of mistakes in dates of births. Unfortunately new people to genealogy are placing a lot of weight on this information. I have not really used it to any great extent in my file but now if I do, I record in a conspicuous place that it is census info. It would seem that the age of the person was obtained and then the year of birth was calculated. You might wish to consider including on your site some form of Shakespearean Warning such as Beware of the 1901 Census birth dates. Although I have found some, I have not found that many mistakes in the day and month of birth but I have found an awful lot in the year of birth. In my Grand Uncles family that I was reviewing yesterday, in a family of six, there were five incorrect birthdates. They did not have a year or birth or age for him so you could say there were six wrong. With my grandfather's family of four, there were three wrong. ... Robert Sample ______________________ The National Archives also has an index for the 1871 Census (heads of households and strays) on its web site. The 1881 Canadian Census is available at It is searchable online and is also available to purchase on CD for about $US 11.00. It's a bargain.
December 20, 2004: The National Archives and the National Library of Canada have merged into a single institution, and the genealogy site for the two former institutions is now in a single place:, the address of the Canadian Genealogy Centre
October 18, 2005: The 1911 Census of Canada records are now online Here is some information on Ward Boundaries for the census records.
September 23, 2006: The 1901 census has now been transcribed and is available at It can be searched. The 1911 census is available at the above web site, as well.
August 29, 2008: Hi Al Thought I'd mention that LAC has now put the images of the 1881 Census on line complete with a searchable by surname index. Images are available in either pdf or Jpeg format and are of a surprisingly hi quality. This provides a very nice alternative to the LDS index which has a wide variety of spelling errors. Regards, ... Al Craig
August 30, 2008: And the 1891 census images are now on-line at Ancestry. ... Sue
June 10, 2009: Hi Al In case you hadn't seen it yet, Ancestry added the 1861 and 1871 censuses to their site yesterday - the full images. It's great! Sue
June 15, 2009:
Re the 1861 and 1871 census for Nepean Township, Carleton County
It's difficult to find Nepean Township (in Carleton County) in the new records. Taylor Kennedy has located them: Al Can you post, anyone who wants Nepean, key in page 694 of the 4799 pages for Carleton County. Thanks Taylor
June 8, 2010:
1842 Census for Carleton County
Thanks to Sue for this question about the 1842 Nepean Census: Hi Al; Do you know of anyone who has access to above census? I'm looking for the household of Thomas and ELIZABETH (not Ellen/Helen) O'Meara / Marrah / Mara etc. They should have about 9 children (4 boys and 5 girls - 2 born in Ireland and 5 in Canada). Anyway, if you can give me a lead, I'd appreciate it. ... Sue _________________________________________ Hi Sue: To my surprise, I came across a transcribed copy of the 1842 census for all of the townships of Carleton County and it includes a Thomas "Omara" in Nepean Township. I'd forgotten I had this book -- it's very well done by Jim Robinson at the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, publication number 00-01. Here is Thomas Omara, shown in Row 50 of the following two tables. The first part gives personal information. Here are the column titles for columns 1 to 33: 1842 Census of Nepean Township, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, page 1

1842 Census of Nepean Township, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, page 1 The next part contains the land and farm agriculture records for each individual. Here are column headings 34 to 124: 1842 Census of Nepean Township, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, page 1 1842 Census of Nepean Township, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, page 1 ... Al
June 9, 2010: Thanks to Andrew for bring the following census records to our attention: Dear Al, Hi! Thank for getting back to me. I appreciate the work, comments, and input from you and Taylor. It helps a lot! By all means feel free to use my e-mail correspondence. You are probably already aware of these early 1820's Census sources for Ontario but I will list them anyways just in case you don't. These are excellent links to Ontario Census Records which I didn't even know about before, starting in 1817 then gradually going up to 1891 (1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1844, 1847, 1848, 1851, etc.): All the Best. Have a Great Week! Yours truly, Andrew.

March 16, 2011: Search the 1881 Census for Ontario.
June 22, 2013: Release of the 1921 Census for Canada By Rick Roberts from Global Genealogy A reliable and well placed source called me today to let our readers know that the entire 1921 census of Canada has already been digitized plus a geographical index. It's sitting on a server ready to go online (free). Problem is that the Harper Government has put a hold on its release. Apparently a senior member of our government believes that the only persons interested in the 1921 census are "three old ladies in Kingston" who only want to use it for genealogy. In his mind that makes releasing the 1921 census an insignificant priority. That said, there probably are "three old ladies in Kingston" who would like to use the 1921 census for genealogy... along with tens of thousands of other Canadians of all ages who have an interest in accessing the 1921 census for a variety of good reasons including family history research. A few years ago a different government tried to block the release of post-1901 Canadian census records. Our subscribers and a host of volunteers across Canada launched the Post 1901 Census Project to ensure that those records were released. Thousands of people wrote letters and emails. Money was raised to pursue the matter in the courts. That effort was successful. Of obvious irony is the fact that the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper, who was then in Opposition, supported public release of historic census. It is time for us to let The Honorable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages and our local MPs know that there are a lot of us who are interested in the 1921 census of Canada being released. They may not be concerned about "three old ladies in Kingston"... but a lot of mail from a lot of different constituents across the country may be enough to trigger action. Contact information: The Hon. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6 Telephone: 613-992-9650 Fax: 613-992-9868 EMail: Web Site: Preferred Language: English (resposible for Library and Archives Canada) Right Hon. Stephen Harper - Prime Minister Telephone: 613-992-4211 Fax: 613-941-6900 EMail: Web Site:
July 20, 2013:
1842 Census Records for Canada West and Canada East -- NOW DIGITIZED!
Thanks to Charlie Donohue from the Irish Special Interest Group for sharing this good news with us! Genealogy In Time Magazine. Once again this source has considerable information and I think well merits a look. Take care, ... Charlie Canada – Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has been busy recently putting up every census except the Canada 1921 census (which was expected to be released on 1 June 2013). This week, LAC has released the 1842 census of Canada West (modern-day Ontario) and the 1842 census of Canada East (modern-day Quebec). These censuses contain somewhat limited information for ancestral research: name of the head of the household, occupation and number of residents in the household are the main fields of interest to genealogists. The census also broke out the number of members of the household by age category, the country of origin (Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland and the USA), the religion, the amount of land owned by the household and the agricultural production. The purpose of the census was to determine the distribution of parliamentary ridings, more detailed information on each member of the household was not required, and thus not collected. These databases can be searched by name. Access is free. [1842 Canada West Census (Ontario)] [1842 Canada East Census (Quebec)]
August 9, 2013: NEWS FLASH The 1921 census of Canada has just been released this afternoon at This will add another large group of our familiy members. ... Al
November 1, 2013:
Here is a notice from the Ontario Genealogical Society. This release is a good way to start a new month! Index to the 1921 Canada Census
... Al
October 15, 2015: Here are the exact dates telling us the day and month when the Canadian Census was taken. I got this off Facebook ... Al
November 22, 205: I believe that this is the mother of all links to Canadian Census records at LAC: ... Al
March 23, 2017: Thanks to Carmen Rochon who posted the link to the 1825 Census for Lower Canada, now Quebec, to a facebook group. This census, by Library and Archives Canada, allows us to search and view individual images in .jpg or .pdf format. Here we will find many of the early Francophone and Irish pioneer families who later came to Bytown in the late 1820's. ... Al

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