Canada Census, 1881 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Canada Census, 1881 .
CID1804541
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Canada
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Record Description
Record Type Census
Collection years 1881-1881
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
  • Library and Archives Canada Free online images are available at this site. Use the information found in this FamilySearch index collection to search for the image online.
Archive
Public Archives, Ontario


What is in this Collection?

The second national Canadian census was conducted on April 4, 1881.

Census schedules were taken on large sheets of paper with pre-printed rows and columns. The schedules were organized by province and then by census districts and sub-districts.

Collection Content

The census contains the following nine schedules arranged within sub-districts:

  • 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
  • Livestock, 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 in 1867, census taking became a federal mandate. The first census was set for 1871 and every ten years thereafter. Therefore, the second national Canadian census was conducted in 1881. 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, while 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.

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.

Fifteen partial censuses of New France and nine of Acadia were taken between 1666 and 1754.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Census records generally contain the following information:

  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Approximate birth year and birth place
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Head of Household
  • Religion
  • Ethnic origin
  • Town, village, township, or sub-district of residence

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The place where your ancestor lived.
  • The names of family members.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s census record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

I Can't Find Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • 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.
  • These censuses list a large proportion of the population. Unfortunately, portions of some have been lost, and some geographical areas within the provinces were missed by the census takers.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. 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.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Canada Census, 1881." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Canada Census, 1881.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.