Canada Census,1871 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: Canada 1871 Census Index .

Collection Time Period

The first national Canadian census was conducted in 1871.

Record Description

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, of field products, and of 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

Record Content

Important genealogical information in the 1871 census includes:

  • Full name
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Born within the last 12 months
  • Birthplace
  • Religion
  • Ethnic origin
  • Occupation
  • Married or widowed
  • Town, village, township, or subdistrict of residence

How to Use the Records

Canadian census records are the best source for quickly identifying a family group and their residence. Age can be used to calculate approximate birth year. Use the residence and the birthplace for each person, along with his or her age, to then search other record types. 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.

Record History

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.

Why This Collection Was Created?

Canadian census records were taken to enumerate the population for representation, taxation, and other purposes.

Record Reliability

The accuracy of the census depended on the knowledge of the informant as anyone in the household, or even neighbors, could give information to the census taker. Some information may have been incorrect or falsified.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?

The family members appear individually in the census, but are not linked to their families in the household data in the Historical Record.

The problem is that the family members were not properly linked to their families, as they are in the census.

Related Web Sites

Related Wiki Articles

Canada Census

Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above.

Examples of citations

"Canada Census, 1871." index and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch,org: accessed March 4, 2011), entry for John Mason, age 29; citing Census Records, reference 181 page 5 line 6 Canadian film C_1126; National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

Sources of Information for This Collection:

Canada census, 1871. Index. FamilySearch. Census of Canada, 1871 National Archives Of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. FHL microfilm, 293 reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.