Researching early census records

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the launch of an expanded version of one of our most popular research guides: Finding Aid 300: Other census and related documents (1640 to 1945).

This tool is a comprehensive guide to early census and related records found at LAC, with references mainly dating from 1640 to the 1800s. There are also some records from the 1900s, including Newfoundland and Labrador from 1921 to 1945.

New to this version of Finding Aid 300 are links to digitized images of most of the documents. Researchers can access numerous digitized records relating to Acadia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia.

We also invite you to visit our updated Censuses page, which includes links to our databases of census returns (1825 to 1921) and other resources.

Census of 1861 now available online

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce that the Census of 1861 is now available online. Information was collected for people living in Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Canadians can search this new database by nominal information, such as the surname, given name(s) and age of an individual, as well as by geographical information such as district and sub-district names.

Release of a new version of the Census of 1851 database

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the Census of 1851 database.

The 1851 Census marked the second collection of statistics for the Province of Canada (consisting of Canada West and Canada East). Information was also collected for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

In addition to searching by geographical information such as province, district, and sub-district, users can now also search by nominal information such as name, given name(s) and age of an individual.

Censuses of Canada West and Canada East, 1842 now available online

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce that Canadians can now access the Census of Canada West, 1842 as well as the Census of Canada East, 1842 online. In 1841, Upper Canada was renamed Canada West, whereas Lower Canada became Canada East. These two jurisdictions are now known as the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Each census is partly nominal and contains the names of heads of family, their occupation and the number of residents for each family.

Users can search these new databases by the names of heads of family, as well as by geographical information such as district and sub-district names.

Release of a new version of the Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario Index) database

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario Index) database. Originally created in 1986 by the Ontario Genealogical Society, this database contains references to heads of households, people with a different surname living in the household and people who had died during the previous twelve months.

This new version includes revised district and sub-district information.

Census for Lower Canada, 1831 now available online

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce that the Census for Lower Canada, 1831 database is now available online. The Census for Lower Canada, 1831 is partly nominal and therefore only contains the names of heads of family, their occupation, and the number of residents for each family.

Users can search this new database by the name of heads of family, as well as by geographical information such as district and sub-district names.

Release of a new version of the Census of Canada, 1881 database

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the Census of Canada, 1881 database. This second general census covered the seven provinces and one territory that were then part of Confederation: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories.

This new version includes suggestions for corrections that were received from users in recent months, as well as revised district and sub-district information.

Release of a new version of the Census of Canada, 1911 database

Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the Census of Canada, 1911 database. This fifth general census covered the nine provinces and two territories that were then part of Confederation: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Previously, users could search only by geographical information, such as province, district and sub-district. Now, they can also search by nominal information, such as the name, given name(s) and age of an individual.

Finding Aid 300

Federal census records offer genealogists a wealth of information.

Did you know that there are various types of early census records? These could be very useful for your research.

Our Finding Aid 300  is a comprehensive guide to early censuses and similar documents held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).
The finding aid and other census information are available on the LAC website under Censuses.

Please note that some census records only include the head of a household and only provide statistical data for the remainder of the family or household. These types of censuses rarely indicate the relationship between the head of the household and other family members; other kinds of census records contain only statistical summaries.

For example, if the finding aid indicates “aggregate returns” or “recensement sommaire,” it includes statistics only.  However,  if identified as “nominal” or “nominatif” the census includes a list of names.

Happy hunting!

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