Quick Guide: Canadian Censuses Online

By Rick Crume Premium

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Researchers with Canadian roots have a bounty of censuses to tap—going back to the 1666 enumeration of New France (what’s now Quebec; see a transcription at <>).

More head counts followed erratically until 1851, when the provinces began taking censuses every 10 years. After the 1867 establishment of the Dominion of Canada, the national government took over decennial census-taking in 1871.

If you’re tracing ancestors in Newfoundland, keep in mind that it didn’t join Canada until 1949; you’ll find censuses of Newfoundland and Labrador (1675 to 1945) at <>.

All the Canadian censuses from 1851 to 1921 (the most recent one open to researchers) are online, as are the special 1906 and 1916 censuses of the Prairie Provinces.

Some sites have just transcriptions or page images, while other sites link transcriptions directly to record images.

The census collections highlighted here are free, except for those on subscription site

 Website Census YearsIndex, Transcription or Record Images? Tips
 Ancestry.com1851 to 1911, plus 1906 and 1916 (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan); part of the World Deluxe membership ($299.40 a year)every-name indexes linked to page imagesMuch of the 1911 census microfilm is difficult to read, so many names were transcribed wrong in this index. Use an asterisk as a wildcard substituting for zero to six characters (but not the first three letters) of a word. Also try the Soundex option to find alternate spellings of the last name.
Automated Genealogy1851 (New Brunswick), 1901, 1906, 1911transcription linked to images  The 1901 and 1911 transcriptions link to
other records, too. Indexing of the 1851 New Brunswick census is in progress.
CanadaGenWeb1851 to 1911 and earlier years   transcriptions and links to transcriptions  Many county sites have census indexes and transcriptions.
FamilySearch 1881transcription and index  You also can search the 1880 US census and the 1881 census of England and Wales here.
FamilySearch Record Search Pilot Site1851 to 1871, 1891transcription and indexYou can view information on individuals, but you can’t view entire households.
Library and Archives Canada  1881 to 1891 ———-1871 Ontario———-1851, 1901, 1911
1906 Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan
indexes linked to page images
head-of-household index
Automated Genealogy’s transcriptions link to digitized records on this site.

A version of this article appeared in the March 2010 Family Tree Magazine.