Are you researching your Canadian family history? Perhaps you're looking for your first Canadian ancestor in order to take your research across the Atlantic? If so, we've recently added two record sets that may well make your family history exploration on Findmypast a little easier - the Canadian censuses of 1881 and 1891.

These additions mean we now have four Canadian censuses available to search, and Canadian census records are an unusually rich resource. But what can they tell us?

Explore our Canadian records today!

The Canadian Census

When the earliest census we currently have was enumerated in April of 1881, Canada consisted of British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. The census began on 4 April 1881 and covered 192 districts broken up into 2,139 sub-districts. Census districts and sub-districts were composed of cities, towns, townships, Indian reserves, and less-defined areas. By 1891, this had expanded to 201 census districts and 2,475 sub-districts.

The 1901 census covered 206 census districts and 3,204 sub-districts. 9,000 enumerators took the details of 5,371,315 individuals (compared to 4.5m in 1891). By 1911, this had grown again to over 7 million.

What it can tell you

It's worth noting that it's always worth checking the image for these records, as the information that is transcribed isn't the complete information detailed in the census itself. Also worth bearing in mind is that, depending on from which part of Canada a person hailed, the results can be in English or French.

The transcript page of each census will tell you slightly different things:

1881

  • Name
  • Relationship
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Birth place
  • Religion
  • Origin
  • Year
  • Family number
  • Subdistrict
  • District name
  • Province
  • Film
  • Other household members

1891

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Relationship
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Birth place
  • Marital status
  • Year
  • Relation to head of household
  • Family number
  • District name
  • Province
  • Other household members

1901

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Race or tribe
  • Age – for those under the age of one, their age is expressed in fractions (e.g. 3/12 means 3 months old)
  • Birth year
  • Birth date
  • Birth place
  • Marital status
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Immigration year
  • Naturalization year
  • Image link
  • Family number
  • Division
  • Sub-district name
  • Sub-district number
  • District name
  • District number
  • Province
  • Film
  • Page number

1911

  • Name
  • Relationship
  • Marital status
  • Sex
  • Birth year
  • Birth date (month and year)
  • Birth place
  • Race or Tribe
  • Immigration year
  • Naturalization year
  • Link to record image
  • District name
  • District number
  • Subdistrict name
  • Subdistrict number
  • Film
  • Page number
  • Family number
  • Province
  • Country
  • Other household members
On images for each census, the fields that were enumerated differ, but they contain a great deal more information than is supplied by the transcript. Examples from each census include:

1881 Canada Census

  • Number of vessels owned (column 1)
  • Country or province of birth (column 11)
  • Religion (column 12)
  • Married or widowed (column 15 - a dash indicated the individual had never been married)
For more information on the fields you can find in the 1881 Canada Census, visit the record page.

1891 Canada Census

  • Profession, occupation or trade (column 16)
  • Unemployed during week before census (column 19)
  • Deaf and dumb (column 23)
  • Blind (column 24)
  • Unsound mind (column 25)
For more information on the fields you can find in the 1891 Canada Census, visit the record page.

1901 Canada Census

  • Ethnicity (column 5 - this column will contain some outdated terms that don't reflect modern Canadian census taking)
  • Year of naturalization (column 13)
  • Racial or tribal origin (column 14)
  • In-depth details of occupation (columns 17-27)
For more information on the fields you can find in the 1901 Canada Census, visit the record page.

1911 Canada Census

  • Year of immigration to Canada (column 12)
  • Religion (column 16)
  • Employer (column 19)
  • Whether individual can read (column 34) and write (35)
  • Language commonly spoken (column 36)

For more information on the fields you can find in the 1911 Canada Census, visit the record page.