Canada, Census 1871 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Canada Census, 1871 .
The census day for Canada in this year was April 2, 1871.
Census schedules were taken on large sheets of paper with preprinted rows and columns. The schedules were organized by province and then by census districts and subdistricts. It contains the following nine schedules arranged within subdistricts:
- Nominal return of the living
- Nominal return of the deaths within last twelve months
- Return of public institutions, real estate, vehicles, and implements
- Return of cultivated land, field products, and plants and fruits
- Live stock, animal products, home-made fabrics, and furs
- Return of industrial establishments
- Return of products of the forest
- Return of shipping and fisheries
- Return of mineral products
Following the Constitution Act, 1867, census taking became a federal mandate. The first census was set for 1871 and every ten years thereafter. Thus, the first national Canadian census was conducted in 1871.
Enumeration was by census district, except for Prince Edward Island, which was enumerated by lot number. Census districts were voting districts, not counties, although most have the same names as counties. For the most part, census districts were synonymous with cities and counties, and subdistricts were synonymous with towns, townships, and city wards. Villages, small towns, and parishes were generally enumerated as part of the township in which they were located. Census district and county boundaries were not always the same.
The national government of Canada has taken censuses every ten years since 1871 and every five years since 1971. The 1871 census covers the four original provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. The first coast-to-coast census was taken in 1881. Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949. For Newfoundland few 19th-century censuses that list names have been found. They mostly contain statistical summaries.
National census records are arranged by province and within provinces by census districts and subdistricts. Census districts are voting districts, not counties. Although a voting district may have the same name as a county, it may not include the same townships. In some provinces, townships are equivalent to census sub-districts.
Since the boundaries varied from census to census, it is not easy to tell which census district an eastern Canadian township or western Canadian village was in. Contemporary maps of the census districts have been lost or destroyed.
Abbreviations are used in the birthplace field for the names of the Province of birth. For example, O is for Ontario and Q for Quebec. Some entries include a second letter appears in the abbreviation, u stands for urban and r stands for rural. Qu would mean that the person was born in an urban area of Quebec.
Census records may contain the following information:
- Full name
- Approximate birth year
- Place of birth
- Marital Status
- Ethnic origin
- Town, village, township, or sub-district of residence
How to Use the Records
To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:
- Ancestors name
- Approximate year and place of residence
- Electoral district
Search the Collection
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
Using the Information
If you have found the information that you are looking for, you can do the following:
- Use the birthplace and birth year for each individual you find in the census to search for a birth record in the Canada, Births and Baptisms, 1661-1959 collection.
- Use the birth year of your ancestor to search for later census records.
- Use an index of the 1881 census for the entire province or for local areas to find your ancestor, relatives, and in-laws more quickly. Some provinces are not indexed for 1881.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
If you are unable to find the information that you are looking for, consider the following information to help further your research:
- Gazetteers published in the 1880s sometimes list the "electoral county" or census/voting district rather than the county where a city or village was located. If you still cannot determine the census district, you may need to search several neighboring census districts to find your ancestor.
- When there are no census indexes, look for your ancestor’s location in other kinds of indexes. See Canada Church Records, Canada Directories, Canada Emigration and Immigration, Canada Genealogy, and Canada Land and Property Records and in wiki articles of the provinces.
- If you don't know the town to search, then use indexes to other records to identify where your ancestor lived. Include your ancestor and family members (children, spouse, brothers and sisters, and in-laws) in your search.
General Information About These Records
Since the census attempted to record all the people living in a household, it may identify individuals for whom other records simply do not exist.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to email@example.com. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
- Searchable Online Data Canadian Genealogy & History
- Library and Archives Canada
- 1871 Census on the Library and Archives Canada
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Canada Census, 1871." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Department of Agriculture. Public Archives, Ottawa, Ontario.
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