Manitoba Census Substitutes (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Manitoba Ancestors  by Laura Hanowski. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).


Any documents that contain lists of people can serve as census substitutes. These lists are particularly important for those searching for ancestors who are not found on official census lists that are currently available for public viewing.

Inventory of Archival Material

An invaluable resource for those searching for census substitutes in Manitoba is the inventory that was prepared by three faculty members at Brandon University. With a grant from the Manitoba Heritage Foundation they identified archival records in public and private collections throughout Western Manitoba, Eastern Manitoba and the Eastern Interlake area. The results of their findings are published in four volumes. There are listings for 63 communities in Western Manitoba and 73 communities in Eastern Manitoba. The collections are arranged by the following categories:

  • agriculture and associated organizations
  • archives, libraries and museums
  • businesses and business organizations
  • community clubs
  • community history books
  • family records and private collections
  • health care organizations 
  • military organizations
  • rural municipalities and local government districts
  • towns, villages, municipal documents
  • newspapers
  • other publications
  • school divisions
  • schools
  • service clubs and organizations
  • sport/recreation clubs
  • miscellaneous


  • Coates, K.S. and J.C. Everitt, W.R. Morrison, Kempthorne, Roberta, editors. Inventory of Archival Material in Western Manitoba. 3 volumes. Brandon, Manitoba: Brandon University Press, 1987-1989.
  • Everitt, J.C. and Roberta Kempthorne, editors.Inventory of Archival Material Volume IV. Eastern Manitoba. Brandon, Manitoba: Brandon University Press, 1991.


Directories were published to help government agencies, businesses, churches and schools track people in a community. People who had jobs outside the home, who were over the age of 18 years along with their occupation, place of residence and home ownership were listed from the earliest directories. During the wars it was often noted if individuals were on active service. After WW II women who stayed at home were added to the directory along with the name of their spouse. At this time they also listed the name of the deceased spouse of a widow for a few years. Directories continued to be printed until 2000 when the federal government introduced stricter privacy legislation. The first Manitoba Directory was published from 1876 to 1879. Henderson’s Manitoba Directory began publishing in 1881. Over the years it included Winnipeg and towns in Manitoba. Beginning in 1884 it included the North West Territories and North West Ontario. From 1889-1891 British Columbia was added to the book. In 1886-1888, 1892-1899 there is an alphabetical list of farmers in Manitoba along with their land locations and post offices. In 1908 province-wide directories were no longer published. Instead directories for the major centres of Brandon and Winnipeg were published.

During the wars those in military service could be listed as OAS (On Active Service). This would suggest that military records should be checked. There could also be a write-up about them in the local newspaper on Remembrance Day, at the year end review of activities for that community and when the service person returned after the war. Should the individual have died or reported missing during the war, that too, would likely be noted in the newspaper.


The Manitoba Legislative Library and the Library and Archives Canada have copies of most of the directories for Manitoba. Major public and university libraries have microform copies of these directories. A list of which directories are available in the Peel Collection or the Canadian Institute of Historical Microreproductions (CIHM) collections are listed inWestern Canadian Directories on Microfiche and Microfilm.


  • Ingles, Ernie B. and N. Merrill Distad, editors and compilers. Peel’s Bibliography of the Canadian Prairies to 1953. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.
  • Obee, Dave. Western Canadian Directories on Microfiche and Microfilm. 3rd edition. Victoria: Self-published, 2003.
  • Peel, Bruce Braden. A Bibliography of the Prairie Provinces to 1853, With Biographical Indexes. 2rd edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973.

Assessment and Tax Rolls

Compiled on a local basis and generally still found in the local community. Many municipal records have been deposited in the Archives of Manitoba and are available on microfilm for loan and purchase. The rolls are useful to find who the land and property owners were along with the legal land description. The pre-1906 records help you to find census records. All years help you to use the records in the Land Titles Office. The Inventory of Archival Material in Western Manitoba and The Inventory of Archival Material in Eastern Manitoba has lists of which communities retain their assessment and tax rolls along with the years that survive.

School Registers

The lists of the schools and their school district numbers are found in the beginning of each copy ofInventory of Archival Material in Western or Inventory of Archival Material in Eastern Manitoba. Check the community list to see if any registers are retained in the community. The Archives of Manitoba has a list of the school district names and numbers. There is a microfilm copy of theManitoba Department of Education, Half-yearly Attendance Reports 1915-1980. These records provide the student’s name, grade, age and attendance as well as the teacher’s name and classification. Check the list of microfilm available for loan or purchase for details.

Voters Lists

Voters lists enable the researcher to learn where eligible voters were living when the lists were prepared. The lists only have the name, address and occupation. There are local, provincial and federal lists but not all are necessarily available for public viewing.

Municipal Elector Lists

Municipal elector lists may be found in the municipal office. The following lists are found on microfilm at the Archives of Manitoba and are available for purchase and loan.

  • Blanchard Municipality, 1923-1970; 1980-1983
  • Louise Municipality, 1923-1983
  • Rosser Municipality, 1906- 983

Federal Voters Lists 1935-1979

The Federal Voters lists from 1935-1972 and the By-elections to 1979 are available on microfilm through interlibrary loan from the National Archives of Canada. Finding Aid RG 113-1.

Microfilm Registers of the Lists of Eligible Electors Beginning From the 18th General Election has the microfilm numbers. The book, Federal Voters Lists in Western Canada 1935-1979, lists the electoral districts for each election along with the microfilm number and the pages that each district is found on. The book also has an excellent history for how the enumeration was carried out over the years.

If you wish to find out what the boundaries were for each elector district from 1935-1979 you can do this at the Parliament of Canada website, under the Site Map look for House of Commons- historical. If an ancestor served as a member of parliament there will be biographical information and a picture.

National Registration

There was compulsory registration for all persons age 16 years and older from 1949-1946. The exceptions were active members of the armed forces, cloistered nuns, inmates of prisons, penitentiaries and asylums. All respondents were issued with an identification card. The questions on the registration form include: name, address, age, date of birth, country of birth of the person registering and that of his or her parents, conjugal condition, number and relationship of any dependents , nationality, racial origin, year of immigration and year of naturalization, languages spoken, education, general health, occupation, work experience with a special section on knowledge of farming and previous military service. Not all questions were always answered.

Copies of the forms still exist with Statistics Canada. Those who wish to obtain a copy of a registration need to complete an “Application and Authorization for a Search of Census and 1940 National Registration Records.” To obtain a copy:

Statistics Canada, Census Pension Searches Unit
B1E-34, Jean Talon Building
Tunney’s Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6
Telephone 1-800-263-1136
Email: There is a fee.


  • Leitch, Susan R. “1940 National Registration.” Saskatchewan Genealogical Society 34 (March 2003.)
  • Althea, Douglas. “World War II and National Registration-1940.” Here be Dragons, too! More navigational hazards for the Canadian family researcher. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2000. Page 71-72.


Throughout the history of Manitoba various organizations have developed questionnaires which can serve as census substitutes. An example of one such survey is:

United Farm Women of Manitoba

This survey was conducted in 1922 to learn about farm women’s lives in Manitoba. The questions range from information about the size of the farm and house, the amenities within the house, household accounts, hired help and the number of children at home.


The Survey of Farm Homes 1922 is found in the Archives of Manitoba as MG 10 E 1, Box 12.


  • Findlay, Thelma Weslak. “United Farm Women of Manitoba.”Generations: The Journal of the Manitoba Genealogical Society 14 (June 1989).


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Manitoba Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.