This research tool provides access to the returns for the 1901 Census of Canada. Census returns are the official enumeration or counting of the population, recording such details as name, age, province or country of birth, ethnic origin and religious denomination for every single person resident in the country at the time of the census. The 1901 Census was conducted by 8,800 enumerators who went door to door on 31 March 1901 using predetermined sets of questions to be asked to the head of each household and each business establishment.
At the time of this census Canada was made up of seven provinces, - British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, - two territories, Yukon Territory and North-West Territories, and the District of Keewatin. It is important to note that the North-West Territories was much different in 1901 than it is today. At the time of the 1901 Census it was made up of seven districts, which were Alberta, Assiniboia, Athabasca, Franklin, Mackenzie, Saskatchewan, and Ungava. A map of Canada at this time can be found on National Atlas of Canada website [http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/historical/territorialevolution/1901].
The responses to the questions asked that day were recorded on a series of "Schedules," each one covering an aspect of life in Canada at that time. The schedules were as follows:
Schedule 1 - Population (a.k.a. Living Persons)
Schedule 2 - Buildings and Land, Churches and Schools
Schedule 3 - Deaths
Schedule 4 - Farm Land, fruits and plantations
Schedule 5 - Field Products
Schedule 6 - Livestock and animal products
Schedule 7 - Agricultural values
Schedule 8 - Manufacturers
Schedule 9 - Forest Products and furs
Schedule 10 - Fisheries
Schedule 11 - Mines
Enumerators used four additional special forms to account for the various situations they might encounter. These were:
After the then Dominion Bureau of Statistics gathered and compiled all this information, they issued a series of reports, with the first one coming out in 1902. This volume, simply called "Population," declared Canada's population to be 5,371,051. Later volumes described natural products, manufacturers, school and church attendance, dwellings, and electoral representation.
Fifty-four years later, in 1955, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics microfilmed all the records for the 1901 Census and destroyed the original paper records. The microfilm is now in the custody of the Library and Archives Canada, and this research tool leads you to the digitized images made from these microfilm records.
The archival records of the 1901 Census are almost entirely Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 records, with the occasional page from the other schedules. Below you will find descriptions of the schedules and the meaning of each heading found on Schedules 1 and 2 . Unless otherwise noted, this information has been drawn from the Instructions to Chief Officers, Commissioners, and Enumerators (Ottawa: 1901), the explanatory document issued to the officials involved in the 1901 Census.
There are in excess of 140,000 images and they include all completed Schedule 1 (Population or Living Persons) and Schedule 2 (Buildings and Land, Churches and Schools) records. As well, you will occasionally find one of the other schedule distributed throughout the imaged records.
Schedule 2 records describe every unique address visited by the enumerators and, therefore, can be very helpful in finding an individual in the Schedule 1 records if you know the address where the person lived, i.e. street address, lot and concession number, etc. If this is the case, once you identify the address the two right hand columns of the Schedule 2 sheet will identify the corresponding Schedule 1 page and the line on that page.
The database on which this research tool is based contains 17,977 records. Each record contains the following fields: Province/Territory; District Name; District Number; Sub-District Name; Sub-District Number; Schedule type; Archival Reference; Microfilm Reel Number; and Finding Aid Number.
Geography is the key to using this database successfully. The 1901 census was conducted according to census districts and sub-districts, and the records were compiled accordingly. As a result the database on which this research tool is based is indexed according to province or territory and by districts and sub-districts. Therefore, knowledge of the district and sub-district names is of great value in locating either an individual or an address.
To provide assistance with district names and sub-district names a list of all District and Sub-District names, allows the researchers to browse by province/territory and then by district and sub-district to locate a location or place name.
Volunteers with the Automated Genealogy project have completed a Canada-wide name index of the 1901 census. If you find a reference of interest, you can link to the image of the actual page to see the complete details for that individual. For additional panning and zoom features, you should note the reference (District, sub-district and page number) and then access the page from our database rather than linking to the image from Automated Genealogy.
Please note that spelling variations of names are common. Also, it is sometimes difficult for indexers to interpret the handwriting of the enumerators, especially on pages with poor legibility. If you cannot find a reference in the index, you should search the census pages for the place where your ancestors resided.
Many parts of the 1901 Canadian census have also been indexed by different groups such as local genealogical and/or historical societies, regional archival repositories or university research centres. The Genealogy and Family History has made an inventory of such indexes by district showing any online or published versions. To see if an area of interest to you has already been indexed, please consult the inventory[PDF 7,642 KB]. Please note that some indexes can be found on commercial sites with subscription fees.
The search screen has many fields into which you can enter a value:
The Province/Territory is a dropdown list allowing you to retrieve all the returns for a specific province or the Territories. This field can also be used in combination with a geographic location name.
The Geographic Location is actually a keyword field that allows you to enter any place name, whether it be county, city, township, village, or parish. If that name has been used to identify a census district or sub-district, a results set will be returned.
District Name is the official name given to the Census District by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics and the census was conducted according to these districts. In many cases District names correspond to County names. To determine a valid name for this field you can consult the List of District and Sub-District Names.
A District Number was assigned to each Census District by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics for administrative purposes. However, the numbers are only unique within a province or territory. District Number can be used to quickly retrieve a previous result by using it in combination with a province or territory.
Sub-District Names were assigned to areas within each Census District. Again, the names of Sub-Districts often correspond with place names within a county, and can include ward, town, village or parish names.
Sub-District Number was also assigned by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics for administrative purposes and the numbers are only unique within a Census District. Again, a Sub-District Number can be used to quickly retrieve a previous result by using it in combination with a District Name or Number.
Schedule is a field which allows you to search a specific type of schedule. The vast majority of the records are either Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 records, approximately 8,850 of each. There are only four Schedules 3; five Schedule 4; four Schedule 5; one Schedule 6; and one Schedule 9.
Microfilm Reel Number allows you to retrieve a series of records base on a Library and Archives Canada assigned microfilm reel number. This field will assist those individuals who have previously accessed these records on microfilm, or those people who wish to order a copy of the microfilm to search the records off-line.
The Keyword Search field allows you to search any of the above fields alone or in combination.
To use the fields in combination you should note that the default Operator is "AND."
A successful query will return a result set page with the number of results determined by the number of records matching the search string and the number of references of pages (defaults to 20 references per page).
Each result page will display a line above the first result which indicates the search term(s) used and the number of successful hits or references.
A successful reference will contain the following fields:
Microfilm Reel Number:
Finding Aid Number:
If you click on the PDF link found next to the label "View Image" you will be taken to a list of page numbers associated with the record. By selecting one of these page numbers, the page will be replaced by a new window in which your PDF reader will be activated and the PDF file displayed. If you do not have a PDF reader, please visit our "Downloadable Formats" page for instructions on downloading a free PDF reader.
Within the image pages, you have the option to:
The images of the 1901 Census returns can be used in a number of ways for a number of different purposes. However, it is anticipated that most researchers will be using the returns for genealogical purposes.
Conducting genealogical research using census returns requires a good deal of patience. There can be as many as 25 pages of Census returns for any specific Sub-District. As it can take several hours to manipulate and read so many returns, it is advised that you note the Sub-District name when you get a successful hit for a geographic location. This will allow you to retrieve the same images over a number of different Internet sessions.
As noted above, knowledge of geography at the time of the 1901 census will facilitate finding a specific individual.
It is important to note that Schedule 2 records describe every unique address visited by the enumerators and, therefore, can be very helpful in finding an individual in the Schedule 1 records if you know the address where the person lived, i.e. street address, lot and concession number, etc. You can consult town or city directories for 1901 to assist you in finding an address. Municipal libraries often hold these directories. If you do identify an address the two right hand columns of the Schedule 2 page will identify the corresponding Schedule 1 page and the line on that page to find the names and details of the people living at that address.
You can also find more detail in the Introduction to the 1901 Census, which provides a fuller detail of abbreviations, the questionnaire and the administration of the census.
Querying the database for a place name can also provide a rich resource on local history. A result for a given town or county will result in you receiving all the returns for that place. Examination of the returns can tell you not just who lived in a specific town or village, but how many butchers, how many bakers, or how many barbers made their living in there, or how many children lived there in 1901.