1921 Census countdown!

Census records are one of the most useful sources for genealogical research. They can help you discover when and where your ancestor was born, the occupations of a household’s members, what year an immigrant arrived in Canada and many other details.

Census returns were enumerated geographically (according to a person’s residence), not by an individual’s name. The information for each sub-district was recorded in the order in which the enumerator visited each household. Many genealogical societies and individuals transcribe and index census returns by name and make them accessible.

Our census indexes page provides you with helpful links to these indexes. Starting in 1851, a census for all of Canada was held every ten years, with the addition of a census specifically for the Prairie Provinces in 1906 and 1916.

Of course, genealogists and family historians are always eager to consult a new census and we have been receiving questions about the 1921 Census and when is it going to be available.

The 1921 Census of Canada

Census returns after 1916 are in the custody of Statistics Canada, not Library and Archives Canada. The records are closed under the Statistics Act and the Act to Amend the Statistics Act [www.parl.gc.ca/common/Bills_ls.asp?lang=E&Parl=38&Ses=1&ls=S18&source=Bills_Senate_Government]. Under the legislation, when 92 calendar years have elapsed since the taking of a census, those records will be opened for public use and transferred to Library and Archives Canada.

The 1921 Census was taken on June 1st, which means that it will be in the custody of Library and Archives Canada on June 1, 2013. Our intention is to make it available to researchers online, in the same format as previous censuses, as soon as possible after that date.

A few facts about the 1921 Census:

  • it was taken on June 1, 1921
  • it is the sixth comprehensive decennial census to be taken since the creation of the Dominion
  • there were five schedules with a total of 565 questions
  • 241 commissioners and 11,425 enumerators were employed
  • the most important growth of the population was in the prairie provinces with 47% since the 1911 Census
  • the overall population of Canada was 8,788,483 individuals

Share some of your research tips!

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!


Census of Canada, 1921 – Available to Researchers in the Next Few Weeks

Library and Archives Canada took custody of the Census of the Canadian population, 1921 from Statistics Canada, and is beginning work to make it discoverable for Canadians. Closed for 92 years under the Statistics Act to protect individuals’ private information, the census data is being indexed so it can be mined for historical and genealogical research as soon as possible.

Taken on June 1, 1921, the census contains a wealth of information available on more than 197,500 images. The almost 11,700 commissioners and enumerators recorded by hand nearly 8.8 million individuals in thousands of communities across the country. Census returns were geographically enumerated, that is to say according to a person’s residence and not by individuals’ names, in the order in which households were visited.

Information for the census was collected on the following five subjects: population; agriculture; animals, animal products, fruits not on farms; manufacturing and trading establishments; and supplemental questionnaire for persons who were blind and deaf. This represents a total of 565 questions. The population questionnaire contained only 35 questions.

Library and Archives Canada is committed to making the 1921 Census’ rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians, no matter where they live, in the next few weeks. Further details on the 1921 Census’ availability will be shared once they are available.

Canadians can continue to access censuses taken before 1921 through Library and Archives Canada’s Census Indexes webpage to learn more about their families and study Canada’s past. Census records are among the most often consulted resources on Library and Archives Canada’s website.

Summary of comments received in French up to September 30th, 2013

  • Many users asked when the 1921 census will be available online. LAC informed then that the official release date is June 1st, 2013. Afterwards, LAC will start the digitization of the census. The digitized images of the 1921 census were available to the public on August 7th, 2012 on the Ancestry.ca website.
  • A user asked if it will be possible to participate in the indexing process. LAC responded that multiple options were being explored.

Summary of comments received in French between April 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014

  • A client is unhappy about accessing the 1921 census through Ancestry.ca and agrees with previous commentators that this situation needs to be changed.
  • A client agrees with the previous commentator regarding the 1921 census.

Summary of comments received in French between October 1 and December 31, 2014

  • A client is unhappy that the Canadian and Ontario governments have allowed Ancestry to digitize the archives and asks whether Quebec will soon follow.
  • A client wants to know the meaning of a code in box 24 (other language) of the census and where they can find information about the codes. LAC responds: After the census was taken in 1921, codes were added by the statisticians to analyze the results. Unfortunately, the tables containing the significance of the codes were not kept. Only the code tables for professions were retained. Please contact our genealogy services by using the online form (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/assistance-request-form/Pages/assistance-request-form.aspx?requesttype=1) if you have questions about the profession codes.

139 thoughts on “1921 Census countdown!

  1. Will LAC please inform us:

    – in what form the census exists, microfilm, original pages, something else?
    – what measures are being taken to ensure “as soon as possible” is sooner rather than later?

    • Thank you for your questions. In 1955, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics asked the Public Records Committee (PRC) to destroy the paper census schedules. After consultation, the PRC agreed on the condition that the population schedules be microfilmed; as a result a microfilm copy is the only remaining archival holding of Census records.

      Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will digitize the microfilms for the 1921 census and make them available online as JPEG and PDF images.

      LAC is aware that these records are key elements to genealogical research and are highly consulted; LAC will be pulling from its past experience to have these images added shortly, after their release date of June 1, 2013.

      • So It’s June 3, 2013 and not a peek out of the Library and Archives Canada Blog – I guess it’s going to be much, much later since no announcement has been made.

  2. Pingback: · Ruth’s Recommendations

    • Thank you for your question. For the time being, we cannot provide you with a definite answer; we will only know more once the actual microfilms are transferred to Library and Archives Canada from Statistics Canada. However, based on previous censuses, it is likely that only Schedule 1 was kept and microfilmed.

      • My understanding is that the Canadian government has a name index to the 1921 census. Is this correct? Is it with Statistics Canada or with another department? Is it already in the queue to be transferred? This will be of immediate assistance to researchers and surely easy to digitize / distribute, although a fuller free Canadian 1921 indexing project will still be needed.

      • I regret to inform you that the Canadian government has no nominal index for the 1921 census. As is the case for previous Canadian census returns, the indexing of the 8.8 millions of names appearing in the 1921 census will be done through a similar process such as partnerships. Details will be communicated in the upcoming weeks.

  3. Pingback: Canada’s 1921 Census to Be Released June 2013 « Relativeity

  4. Pingback: 1921 Canadian Census Countdown! « Carleton Place Local History

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  6. Pingback: 1940 US Census and 1921 Canada Census « Peter's Family History Blog

  7. What are the plans for indexing it?

    Any chance of a partnership with FamilySearch?

    Their online indexing system is already well-proven with hundreds of thousands of volunteer indexers and arbritrators doing records from around the world. And now the 1940 U.S. Census is in high gear, with several states already completed within 7 days of its release.

  8. Pingback: 1940 US Census and 1921 Canada Census | Peter's Family History Notes

  9. Automated Genealogy volunteers have done wonderful work and I’m grateful for it. However, the site is not really well-known, particularly to non-Canadian researchers.

    An affiliation with FamilySearch makes the information more readily accessible, and results will often pop up for people who never thought their ancestor might have moved to Canada.

    The LDS church has been an extremely well-respected organization in genealogy – worldwide – for decades, offering free help and loans of their collection of 2.4 million microfilms to everyone. The nominal fees charged for the films don’t even cover the postage to/from Canada.

    FamilySearch had hundreds of thousands of indexers working on the U.S. 1940 Census, and their indexing accuracy rate is high. They got 132 million names indexed – each by two different indexers, then arbitrated – any differences were judged by a third person, and published online free to everyone within 4-5 months. Volunteers did 17.5 million names in the first week!

    I’m not saying they’d do our 8.8 million names that fast, but I’m sure I’m not the only Canadian indexing volunteer to welcome and promote more Canada projects.

    Given the recently announced funding reductions to Library and Archives Canada, an affiliation with FamilySearch makes more sense than ever. Why not have the fully searchable census – and images – available online for free at both LAC and FamilySearch?

    Please tell us you’re negotiating now….so there’s time to build up volunteer excitement in advance of the release!

  10. I would echo my support of Lori’s comments above. Why any government agency would NOT approach/negotiate with FamilySearch is beyond me! What was accomplished with the 1940 US Census Project was nothing short of a miracle. I’m not sure I would classify them as “foreigners” when they are truly International – in every sense of the word. There’s room to involve both.

  11. I find automatedgenealogy.com/index.html better than familysearch.org
    At least you can view the original records and link the various censuses for your family members from one census to the others. I have done so with mine and even transcribed some for the areas of interest to me.

    I look forward to doing so with the 1921 census. I wish the 1916 census could be linked to the previous ones.

    I found my father on the 1916 census in Manitoba. He was born in the USA in 1901 but his family missed both the US 1900 & the Cdn. 1901 as they were traveling back & forth at those times. He is also on the 1906 census in Manitoba.

    He meet my mother in Toronto, ON in a boarding house and they married in 1928. She was in Barrie, ON on the 1911 census (born in 1902) and may have been in Nova Scotia in 1921 working for her uncle -Lt. Cl T.A. Burton of the Salvation Army.

    I look forward to finding them and do appreciated any form they appear on line.

    • Thank you for your question. This unique land survey system was developed for the prairies by the Canadian government and eventually led to the creation of more than 1.25 million homesteads.

      The Search Help pages of the 1916 census, on Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) website, provide a description of the land survey system and how to identify a particular location. On that same page under “database”, you will find a list of district and sub-districts, which contains the township and range numbers along with the Meridian location.

      The townships are arranged in rows that run south to north, parallel to the Canada/United States border (i.e., the 49th parallel). Each row is numbered progressively from the border, with the row closest to the border numbered 1, the second closest numbered 2, etc.


      A map of the townships in the Western provinces is included in the Search Help pages for the Western Land Grants database. The first step is to identify the area with the Meridian location, then the range number (numbered east to west) and finally the township number (rows run south to north).

  12. Hello !
    About a year ago I wrote to inquire when the 1921 census would be released and was told in an email from your office that the date would be January 1, 2013. HOw come your staff gave incorrect information?

    I would certainly be in favour of letting FamilySearch have the 1921 census for indexing. Family history information should not be limited to Canada for indexing just because it is a Canadian census. FamilySearch does a wonderful job around the world and makes records freely available.

    • Thank you for your comments about the blog posting pertaining to the 1921 Census countdown. As indicated in the post, the release date of this census to the public is no sooner than June 1, 2013. We will post more details as soon as they become available. Please continue to watch this space for upcoming information about the 1921 Census.

  13. I certainly hope to see the 1921 Canadian Census available free on-line as soon as practical after its release this year – and with a free (and useful) nominal index. Volunteer indexing and access at AutomatedGenealogy.com would be my first choice, but perhaps Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has lost that relationship. Canadian genealogical societies and groups could step in too. While I am not against LAC *in addition* allowing or facilitating indexing, etc.by other organizations or companies, even if commercial or non-Canadian, I maintain that these relationships and agreements must be open to view and transparent and must *not* preclude free access, in this case, on-line, to our own Canadian historical resources as soon as practical after acquisition.

  14. I am an Archivist myself, and while I stand behind my colleagues at LAC at this difficult time in our profession, I remain appalled that Library and Archives Canada continues to cut the Archival Community, as well as Canada’s Genealogical Societies, out of any participation and discourse regarding Canada’s documentary heritage. Were any of Canada’s Genealogical Societies consulted on this? Did any even have the opportunity to offer assistance? Yes, familysearch is a worthy organization, however, so are our volunteer run Genealogical Societies, as well as AutomatedGenealogy. Echoing the sentiments of an earlier commentator, surely there is enough room for our own grass roots heritage organizations to be involved in indexing their own census!

  15. Pingback: 1921 Canadian Census Release Date | Carleton Place Local History

  16. In recent months LAC has come in for bad press over it’s approach to an employee (and volunteer) code of conduct, and alienation of clients through actions such as cancellation of the interlibrary loan service. Transfer of the custody of the 1921 census offers an opportunity for some good publicity, if action to make it available take place promptly in the hours and and days after transfer. Yet what we get in responses on this blog is nebulous phrases like “as soon as practical after acquisition”, “as soon as possible”, “as soon as they become available”, “will be exploring various avenues”, “in the upcoming weeks”. Why is LAC not being more open about its plans and timetable for public availability of the 1921 census?

  17. I stand by my previous comments about LAC and indexing partnerships. The terms of any ‘call for indexing partners’ by LAC should be freely available. Since LAC here today seems to be saying 1921 census indexing partnerships are being discussed (or are already set), information on these discussions and relationships needs to be communicated openly.

  18. Yesterday I heard an Ancestry rep say that Ancestry is in negotiations with LAC regarding the 1921 Canadian census and that the census may be available like the 1940 US census project – free. The hosting and (almost immediate) indexing of the 1940 US census was a major undertaking with several commercial and non-commercial participants, planned long in advance and widely promoted. (See the 2011 NARA solicitation for hosting quotations here: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=97297dc76322c2e5d9cd32b4d9efccc6&tab=core&_cview=1) What are LAC’s terms and conditions for the 1921 census release and what current proposals are being considered both for access and for indexing?

    • Thank you for your comment. We acknowledge that the 1921 Census will be an incredible new source for family historians interested in family members living in Canada in 1921. LAC is committed to making the 1921 census available to all as quickly as possible.

  19. I object to Ancestry.com having the Canadian censuses. They are not nominal at all. I downloaded my families Censuses from 1851 to 1911 and have all the names of my ancestors. Recently there is no mention of these names at all. One has to belong to Ancestry to obtain something that is not family specific! Shame on Canada for selling informatioon that should be ours to get free and in entirety.

  20. I’m wondering why the LAC responses here are non-responses. Others are asking well-thought out questions, seeking answers yet LAC responder(s) here continue to offer “answers” that are not answers to the questions asked. I feel like I am reading a political forum with one of our Canadian political leaders engaged in not-so-subtly avoiding all questions!

    C’mon LAC – give a straight answer to the good questions being asked about who is in negotiations to do indexing, why aren’t genealogical societies being included, etc ! Don’t keep repeating the same non-answers.

  21. Yes, the 1921 Census will be an incredible source of information for family historians about their family in 1921 Canada. And, family historians are happy to hear that the digital images will be posted as soon as possible. However, the answers to the questions about LAC partnering with another organization/company to create a nominal index remain vague. Have you considered contacting the Ontario Genealogical Society? This is the largest family history society in Canada. With four weeks to go until the release of the 1921 Census of Canada, it is disappointing how little has been shared with the public.

  22. Family historians couldn’t agree more about how incredible the information in the 1921 Census of Canada will be in helping them learn about their ancestors. Perhaps this is the reason why so many of us family historians want to know what LAC’s plans are for indexing this census. To date, the responses posted to the numerous questions have been vague.
    Has LAC considered contacting the largest genealogical society in Canada, the Ontario Genealogical Society? Many members of the OGS are experienced family history volunteers. Why not take advantage of that expertise?

    With only four weeks to go until the release of the 1921 Census of Canada, it is disappointing how little has been shared with the public.

  23. I would gladly volunteer to help with indexing the 1921 census. I believe it is the first census taken after my paternal grandparents arrived in Canada from Germany.

  24. I’m very eagerly awaiting the release of the 1921 census and would like to urge the LAC to contact the Ontario Genealogical Society, other provincial genealogical societies, the Association of Professional Genealogists, FamilySearch and automatedgenealogy.com to collaborate on indexing this excellent resource. The more people who get involved – people who are familiar with these kinds of records – the quicker the process will be and the better quality will be the result.

  25. I, like many other amateur genealogists in Canada, are eagerly awaiting the June 1st date but am disappointed with the lack of information provided by LAC. The U.S. did an amazing job in getting its 1940 census online and indexed quickly last year, and I’m very concerned that that effort won’t be mirrored here in Canada.

  26. The indexing of the 1921 census should be given to Automated Genealogy – where everyone can continue to access it totally free. There is no reason to give the database over to an American company like Ancestry who will charge us to access it. Really, this is just totally bizarre. Automated genealogy did a great job with the other census/

  27. I too am anxious about the release. Wondering what kind of timeframe we are looking at for the availability of the census. Depending on what is involved in the preparations, it could be weeks, months or more. Is there any approximation to that? Thanks.

  28. This LAC “countdown” is anything but. No substantive information since the original posting. LAC should look to the recent US 1940 Census countdown and release to see how it should be done.

  29. Pingback: 1921 Census of Canada: What are the plans for its release? | Ottawa Valley Irish

  30. I am excited, anxious and a bit uncertian about the release. I am hopeful that the LAC will keep the census in-house for indexing and avoid throwing the census to fee-based vendors such as Ancestry. Keep the format the same as the other census (if not better). Please don’t make this a long process where we will be waiting for another year… 10 years has been long enough! Many thanks and looking forward to next month like a Christmas that comes around once per decade!

  31. How is it that it’s now May 31st and there’s not even a peep about this happening tomorrow (or more likely Monday?) Even a “We won’t get the census until June 1, and it will take several months of processing after that before images will be released” would be welcome…

  32. I am also eagerly awaiting the release of the 1921 census. I too would prefer to see the census transcription process given to FamilySearch rather than a fee-based vendor such as Ancestry. I’m a Canadian & I don’t think I should have to pay for the privilege of searching the census when there is a very competent organization of volunteers with a long history of doing such transcriptions, available to do it without charge.

  33. I have been researching my Canadian roots for 18 years now. My grandmother is the only person that I have not been able to document there. I waited 8 years for the 1911 census and for some odd reason she is not there. I was crushed! Since there is no church record or any other record of her there, I was forced to skip over her for the time being. I have impatiently awaited another 10 years for the 1921 census to be released, just to get SOME kind of documentation on her. Could you just give a “guestimated” time frame on when they will be available online?? Can you PLEASE just give me a “crumb” here??

  34. So far you have not provided any clear answers to the questions about the availability of the 1921 Census to researchers. One hopes that next week, when this material has officially come into the custody of Library and Archives Canada, you will issue a press release which will inform the public in clear terms:
    1. When researchers will be able to use the 1921 Census microfilm in the microfilm reading room at 395 Wellington (with perhaps a note indicating what percentage of the readers are usuable).
    2. When lists indicating the contents of each reel will be available onsite and on the internet.
    3 What arrangements are being made to scan this material and when it will be available on the internet.
    4 What arrangements are being made to index this material.

  35. I hope FamilySearch Indexing will be used on the 1921 Canada census. I participated in indexing the US 1940 census and would help with the 1921 Canada index if allowed.

  36. This information was to be unavailable for 92 years? Why exactly are we still waiting to gain access to this? LAC is accountable to us. I am requesting to be made aware of the deadline LAC has set to have the info available. A responsibly run organization makes such plans and shares such information with its stakeholders. LAC when can I access this census?

  37. Can someone please update the news surrounding the release of the 1921 census? When will it be available to the public?

  38. The 1921 Census is in your hands and I, and I am sure many historians, have been waiting for the announcement as to how and when these records will be made available. Please let us know the plan LAC. Impatiently yours in history.

  39. FamilySearch volunteers are now indexing the 1911 Canada Census.

    Yes, it’s already available here and at Automated Genealogy – which is fine if you expect to find your people in Canada. But it opens a whole new country of possibilities for those who never realized their ancestors moved to Canada for awhile. Their people will suddenly pop up in Canada on a general search.

    Let’s get FamilySearch doing the 1921 Census too, please. Too bad the opportunity for building excitement ahead of its release is long-gone.

  40. As a taxpayer, I am NOT IMPRESSED with LAC’s failure to get this done.

    You’ve had cutbacks – we feel for you. But this is one area where commenters have presented numerous creative alternatives for getting the 1921 Census indexed and made widely available virtually for free, yet they receive only vague acknowledgements.

    We’re trying to tell you: Use our money wisely please.

  41. “Thank you for contacting Statistics Canada. The 1921 Census information has already been transferred to Library and Archives Canada (LAC), effective January 2013. The information was scheduled to be released to the public on the LAC website in June, 2013. However, due to recent changes, we were just notified that this scheduled release has been put on hold. No new date has been provided yet. You may contact LAC for further details.”
    Please may I have further details.

    • Well, it does seem as if the cat is out of that bag. (Hope it’s not run off and got lost.) But if it’s correct that the 1921 census films, and/or other data or formats, are already with Library and Archives Canada then all that should be made available immediately.
      Some researchers have had access to the 1921 census for years now. We should have public access to the 1921 (and pre-1921) data that those projects are working with too, as with some previous Canadian academic census projects. (Perhaps that digitized data is included in the “information” that Stats Can has released?) In fact, I wonder why the technical expertise at Stats Canada and that involved in those university projects hasn’t been harnessed to digitize the census for all of us.

    • What are the changes that are holding this info up we have a right to know – as I have been a constant indexer for Family Search if it is a transcribing issue I would gladly volunteer to get this info available to the public and genealogists even sooner

  42. Yes , as a volunteer indexer for Familysearch, I would welcome the opportunity to assist in indexing of the 1921 Canada Census, I must have indexed well over a 1000 names for the US census.

  43. I live in Florida but my family history is almost exclusively French-Canadian living in Quebec and Ontario Provinces for the most part. It would be a great help to obtain information from the 1921 Census. And yes the US Census for 1940 was indexed in a flash in my opinion and the 1921 Census of Canada should be indexed as soon as possible, since we have been waiting for a long time for it.

    • No….they’re not saying it’ll be indexed in the next few weeks.

      “Library and Archives Canada is committed to making the 1921 Census’ rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians, no matter where they live, in the next few weeks.”

      I’m guessing that would be the images.

      • Really the LAC statement doesn’t say much of anything that’s specific. Could be available on pay sites only, for instance. But since whatever is happening, we are to see something somewhere “in the next few weeks” obviously some at LAC must know exactly what will be available and in what form and where – unless perhaps a really tight, need-to-know-only, exclusive non-disclosure agreement/contract has been signed at the very highest level.
        LAC has said now that the 1921 “census data is being indexed” so I think I know what that means since no projects have been announced.
        I could be wrong, of course, but plenty of volunteers have offered to index and no mentions of that.
        Last March LAC also said that “Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will digitize the microfilms for the 1921 census and make them available online as JPEG and PDF images.” That’s a long time ago but I am at least holding on to the thought of the ‘raw’ pages on-line free at least.
        And it could be that someone commercial noticed all the goodwill generated from commercial involvement in the ‘free’ 1940 US census release and indexing undertaking. 🙂

  44. Pingback: More on 1921 Census Delay | TORGGG Blogger

  45. Although I am Canadian, I don’t have many relatives that I need the information for that might be available on the 1921 Canadian Census, but I am still very excited that it will soon be available to the public. I just hope it doesn’t take too long. I for one would be quite willing to do some indexing if help was requested and am sure there are plenty more like me out there. Please let us know what we can do to help.

  46. Like many people I’m eagerly awaiting the public census records. My grandmother, still sharp at 94, was born in 1919 but has no record or her birth or parents. If I can find her in the 1921 census it will be a huge cause for celebration for our family.

  47. I am waiting for the 1921 Census of Canada to come out so I can finally find my elusive great-grandfather who lied about his age, name, and birthplace, and never talked about his family. He was in the war, and I believe he changed his name after the war, so I will be able to find him in this census for sure.

    I would love to be able to find his birthdate and middle name so I can find his WW1 attestation papers and give my 83 year old grandma a copy of them for her birthday next month. Crossing my fingers.

    • I am waiting for the 1921 Census of Canada to come out so I can finally find my elusive *father* who lied about his age, name, and birthplace, and never talked about his family. He was in the (second world) war, and I believe he changed his name *before* the war.

      It’s oddly reassuring that I am not the only one with this sort of problem. 🙂

      • I’m very upset that, over halfway through the month, that we still can’t get our hands on the 1921 Census, and find the lack of information coming from the LAC people appalling. Perhaps it is time to get our MPs involved and perhaps they can help expedite the 1921 Census release?

      • I’m waiting so I can finally find my secretive Great Grandfather who wouldn’t tell his age, birth date, full name, and never talked about his family.

        Good luck to all who are waiting for their brick walls to tumble down. 😎

  48. LAC: Everyone keeps referring to the digitization of these records. What about just accessing the microfilms at LAC in Ottawa. Is this possible now?

  49. Hi, I found this online, Toronto Star June 20, 2013

    The 1921 Census has been digitized and was anticipated to go online in June of this year. The federal government has put this on hold, claiming that the only people interested in it are “three old ladies in Kingston” who only want to use it for genealogy.
    First, thousands of people across the country are interested in this census for a variety of reasons. However, even it is only people looking into their family histories, we are in the middle of celebrations for the war of 1812-14. This census will reveal answers about the survivors of World War I and their families. This is real Canadian history — personalized and incredibly real because of that.
    Secondly, we are in the middle of scandals that are in great part due to lack of openness of information by the government. Perhaps we should start somewhere and release this. What are we trying to hide?
    Thirdly, the work has already been done.
    Please Mr. Harper.
    Jill Holditch, Burlington

  50. I think that rather than contact your MPs (I have a real mistrust of the politicians), you should contact the many newspapers and TV outlets about the situation. Bet the Kingston media outlets would have a field day.

    There is also the “Access to Information Act” . A couple of lawyers could really raise a stink by pushing it. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association might be interested also.

    The same problem has come to light in Saskatchewan where they refuse to make available Birth, Marriage and Death info that is supposed to be. eHealth/ISC are many years behind releasing information.


  51. Hello everyone,
    It has been a few weeks (15 working days) since the 1921 census has been turned over to LAC. The last word was almost two weeks (10 working days) ago “Library and Archives Canada is committed to making the 1921 Census’ rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians, no matter where they live, in the next few weeks.” Sorry but my idea of a few weeks is somewhere between three or more weeks (14 to 21 or more working days) and that time is not up yet. Our Parliamentarians went on summer vacation, correct me if I’m wrong, seven days ago, are we jumping ahead of ourselves, emailing them? I believe that we should all patently wait the few more weeks and/or for further details from LAC and not succumb to possible rumours, even ones printed in news papers unless the source bravely comes forward along with the person who made that statement. I know it is hard but I am sure it will be worth the wait.

    • It has now been over a month and nothing – not even an announcement that LAC is working on it. If you do not want to email your MP then send a letter to the Prime Minister, to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to the Interim Librarian and Archivist of Canada. One of them should have the authority to release the 1921 Census material. Why should we wait patiently when it seems that all the work has been done to make this ready to release? The source of this information may wish to remain anonymous,for fairly obvious reasons, but the information on this comes from trustworthy people.

  52. It had been more than “a few weeks” now. Can someone from Library and Archives Canada update us on the release of the 1921 census? When will it be available to the public?

  53. This is the reason the 1921 Census is delayed. Canadiana.ca is non-profit who is working with LAC to show historical files. Problem is that they charge a fee to view the info. I don’t know whether they were involved in digitizing the 1921 Census or not. Web location: http://www.canadiana.ca/en/lac-project-faq


  54. Come on……the lack of information pertaining to the “imminent” release of the 1921 Canadian census is deplorable. The tax-paying citizens of this country deserve better. WHEN is this census going to be available to the public???

  55. Today is Canada’s 146th birthday, and a great gift to the citizen’s of Canada would be the release of the 1921 census. Alas, the census has so far not been released and there is a rumor circulating that a politician has put it’s release on hold. I hope that this is not the case and that the census will be released in a short while as per the announcement on June 4th that it would be released in the next few weeks.

  56. I have been doing genealogy since 1983. Back in the old days, microfilms became available to the public in various libraries but sometimes it took many years before the census’s were indexed. I seem to recall that Britain’s 1911 census it took many months or maybe a year before a complete index was created. These various indexes were created either by volunteers or by private companies (ancestry.com). The government did not create the indexes. I cant believe how frantic and even conspiracy oriented some people are.

    • Well, by now, you know it wasn’t just paranoia.


      It definitely appears we will not get the Automated Genalogy model or the Family Search model. (Handing the census over at no cost to both organizations would’ve been the ideal way to go, in my opinion.)
      And the transcription will likely take a very long time, as this organization seems to be doing the transcription itself. As well the transcription appears to only be available as a “premium” (read: for-a-fee) access. The actual images will be available to the public for free, apparently, but who knows at what speed. It sounds like the digitization proceess is just beginning…but I may be wrong about that. Details seem scant considering we were promised the release would take place on June 1st of this year.

      Canadiana says the full text search will remain “premium access” until the end of the project, meaning they have no incentive to finish the project quickly as their revenue will dry up once they can no longer maintain sole access to the index.

      Very disappointing to wait ten years and then be confronted with more delays.
      I hope someone can show me where I’m wrong about all this.

      • interesting that the date of information on the link is 12 june and it took until the 7 july to get posted here. I have indexed for both Automated and Family Search but agree that the images are what people want to see.

  57. Gareth, I don’t think people are waiting specifically for indexes. We just want the scans released so we can search them. Most genealogy societies do their own indexes anyway, but we can’t do that without the information.

  58. I urge everyone to tell the LAC to keep the 1921 census in Canada. Give the census to Autmated Genealogy for transcribing. Do not sell them to Ancestory or Family Search, who in the past have done a terrible job in transcribing the records they have gotten their hands on.
    Too many times I have found mistakes on Ancestory and Family Search. When you point these mistakes out, the attitude you get is, “oh well”.
    There are always going to be mistakes in transcribing, thats not the issue, it’s what you do with those mistakes when they are pointed out to you, thats the issue.

    Automated Genealogy at least fixes their mistakes and they don’t charge you a fee to see something that should be free for all to see.
    Give the census to Automated Genealogy!

  59. Please make sure the census is given to Automated Genealogy as in the past and kept free of charge for the people of Canada. It would be a travesty if this ends up in the hands of a subscription based company.

  60. Most of us probably don’t care if the index is available or not as local societies generally provide their own done by local volunteers. Just put the @#$$ scans online so we can browse them at our leisure.

  61. Pingback: Genealogy buffs fume while awaiting ‘imminent’ 1921 Census data | iPolitics

  62. I was a volunteer indexer at Automated Genealogy for many pages of the 1851, 1901 and 1911 Canadian census. I don’t want to talk for the leadership there, but I am quite convinced that LAC could easily make an arrangement with that group, mostly composed of dedicated Canadians, wishing to leave a significant legacy to the country. The 1921 census just falls into the legacy category I was referring to. I believe that we are all very anxious to browse through the images of 1921 census.

    What do you think LAC?

  63. It’s July 17th already, so where’s the 1921 Census? How much longer do we have to wait? What seems to be the problem?

  64. Oh my gosh! It is now July.19th.2013 and still no word on the 1921 Census release. A month and a half over due. Like Vince Hunter posted and asked 2 days ago. What seems to be the problem? And please don’t answer that question with hidden agenda’s, deceit and sugar coating. Be honest for pete’s sake.

  65. We in Scotland will not see our 1921 Census until around 2022. However we can access all birth, marriage, death and divorce records from when they were officially introduced in 1855 until about six months previous to present time. These records are uploaded daily. Canada is missing a trick here. Register House in Edinburgh provide you with a computer, where you can look at all these certificates plus Old Parish Records and Census Records from 1841 until 1911. They charge £15.00 for a day search and provide power points at every desk for laptops. They are always busy with searchers from every corner of the world with Scottish relatives or ancestors. They also have an online service, which does not give sight of full certificates under 100 years old for births, but will give a full name and place index. Genealogy is not just for “a few old people”, there are plenty of youngsters doing genealogy. Also these records provide invaluable insight for researchers who, for example, are studying, to name but a few, breast cancer, lung cancer and Huntingdons Chorea occurrences within families.
    I have many family members who went to Canada, but have been unable to continue my research as there is very little information available. What a shame that your politicians don’t care.

  66. So excited and understand that digitizing takes time as will the indexing. I am a little aggrevated to see so many people bickering over the partnerships. As with the other Canadian census records I am sure this one will be available through various online avenues FREE. Ancestry may be a non-Canadian company and a paid site but they also house databases that are free and accessible to even non-members and those same Canadian databases are available on various other online repository sites free of charge. I am all for a large company like ancestry aiding in the indexing if it means fast access and making them more widely accessible. I’m all for the collaboration of any number of Canadian and non-Canadian organizations making this possible!

  67. All the images, geographic index and documentation for the 1921 Census of Canada have been complete since before 2007. Taxpayer money paid for this work. Proof of this fact is documented in a 2007 edition of the scientific review Historical Methods. There is no way LAC could not have put images and a geographic index to the 1921 Census on their website by June 1.
    Read all about it at: http://professeure.tumblr.com
    Lisa Dillon

  68. Thank you Lisa Dillon for the link..I read your letter. It seems that it isn’t “the Harper government” as much as it is bureaucracy run amuck……however, as you point out we have a new heritage minister…my email to my local MP Ed Fast has not been responded to…..I guess my vote doesn’t seem too important to this government…have always voted Conservative. May be time for a change….but my cynical mind set says, “they are all the same”. Meanwhile, I wait to see Grandma and Great Grandma and my father on the 1921 census.

    • I don’t seem to be able to search this for free. Do you have a site where one can find the 1921 census for PEI, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. If you can help me would be most appreciated.

      • Click the link
        Browse this collection (right side)
        Select province
        Select District
        Click on Sub-district of your choice
        Sign up for free
        ….and you’re in, browsing the area you chose.

  69. Well, it took a little bit longer than a few weeks, but the 1921 census is available on Ancestry.ca. It’s free to search the images and there isn’t an index YET. It will require a paid subscription to search the index once it is complete.

    • Hi J C I went through Ancestry.Ca and can see the census unfortunately for instance Vancouver I have to go through all districts to even get closing to finding what I am looking for and you are right it almost seems like this was sold to Ancestry and once indexed it will cost us to search.

      • You should also include the cost to subscribing to Ancestry say for one month and then a one year subscription. Then you will appreciate what we, the Tax payers, have given to Ancestry. The Govt. is clearly abdicating it’s responsibility of providing what we have paid for to us.

  70. Pingback: After more than two-month delay, 1921 census released | iPolitics

  71. Why is Library and Archives Canada in bed with Ancestry. Sure the access is free now but for how long. As a Canadian Tax payer I find this very frustrating. Maybe the funds will be used to help pay off/cover up Senate wrong doings!

  72. Many thanks to J C and NorthernDancer for announcing this and providing that link.

    Most Family History Centres offer free access to Ancestry. You can find one close to you here:


    Be sure to call ahead to confirm hours and accessibility – sometimes reservations are required.

    Many public libraries also offer free access, though sometimes it can be tricky to find and not all staff know it’s there. Ask the reference librarian.

    Though we are a VERY unhappy bunch about how this whole census thing was handled, kudos to the staff at Library and Archives Canada for taking the flak – and being willing to publish our negative comments.

  73. My Dad was born on June 1, 1921, the same day of the census. I found his parents but he isn’t recorded. That’s unfortunate, but oh well.

  74. This is public information, these are public documents, and should be accessible to the public like any other public document held by the government. IF there is to be a nominal charge, it should be purely to cover costs (and once it’s on the web, there are not a lot of costs to cover), although history has proven that access to earlier census information is free of charge. The very idea that Canada;s history can be put up for sale is the stuff of the worst kind of crass monetization of our past. It needs to be open to the public, FROM the government. I shall be writing to as many MPs as I can in hope of getting this absolutely bone-brained idea reversed. What will be sold next? Access to the Peace Tower? Sheesh!

  75. I find the 1921 census records disappointing. Accuracy of transcription seems erratic at best. Original spelling of names is poor, relationships are a mess and transcription is even worse. “Statisticians (?)” have crossed over entries; there are check-marks, Xs and codes marked over original entries so as to make it illegible. Is there a decoder for all these codes which seem to be in mainly relationship & language columns. Too bad someone has basically defaced the original documents so as to make them almost useless. Also many families aren’t there (esp. in Montreal)–even if I search for strange spellings and relationships!

  76. Lets hope the 1921 census will be available to all and not just those who can afford to pay membership to Ancestry. In the past I always looked census up from micro film at the nearby university.

  77. I am very unhappy that rights to access for the 1921 Canada Census were given to an American business interest. Am I just overwrought? I guess so since so many have pointed out, the ancestry access is flawless and free. Maybe so, only since they stopped putting up the “join ancestry” message and making it look like one had to join ancestry in order to access the census. Foot in the door you know. I mean Microsoft has ensured we all use U.S. spelling and it’s a real fight to have schools respect our French words like centre instead of center; the use of “our” as in honour; the use of Mum (as in Sun) for mother instead of Mom (as in Tom) and other such traditions; we all love the prices at Walmart; we can roll over and let our heritage seep away. Just venting.

  78. Why was the 1921 Census given to Ancerstry and not made public as all the other Census prior to this one. Did Ancestry have to buy or was it given them free and if so why as a Canadian Citizen should i have to pay them in order to research it

    • Yes, why do I have to pay an American organization to access information gathered on the Canadian Taxpayers dime???

      • I long ago expressed similar dissatisfaction with the way LAC handled this census and am still not happy about it – particularly now that I see how many people are confused and do not realize they can view it for free on Ancestry. You just have to register with them.

      • Upset as I am about how this was handled, I do have to wonder how many people took the time to write to their MP and to the Minister about this deal. Several of us tried to stir up some serious objections to it when we learned it was happening, but the response from our fellow Canucks was actually quite dismal and the transfer of a piece of our heritage went ahead.

        We need to be sure it was a one-time thing, however, and keep up the pressure to ensure that Canada’s archives stay Canadian.

        BTW- as a footnote, access to the 1921 info is indeed free still as of this writing. If you are prompted to “join us” you can happily ignore it (for the present, at least).

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