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February 1. 2005
How To Search Canadian Census Records
by - Glen Eker

A census is an official government enumeration of the people residing in a city, town, village, county, district, or an urban or rural area. Censuses can provide important information about a person, including name, sex, family relationship, age, birthplace, immigration and naturalization dates, ethnic origin, religion, occupation, and education.

Censuses available on microfilm that provide listings for each person are the 1851 and 1861 Censuses of Upper and Lower Canada, the 1871 - 1901 Censuses of Canada, the 1870 Census of Manitoba, the 1906 Census of Western Canada, and the 1921, 1935, and 1945 Censuses of Newfoundland. The 1871 Census of Ontario had been indexed by head of household and is available online at the National Archives of Canada Website. The 1881 Censuses of Canada has been completely index and is available online at family search.com. The 1901 Census of Canada is currently being completely indexed to be available free online. Portions completed can be accessed by entering as subject: Automated Genealogy 1901 Census Transcription Project.

There are many other indexes either in hardcopy or online to various localities in the censuses from 1851 to 1901. An extensive collection of hardcopy census indexes is available at the Toronto Reference Library or in the Canadiana Room, 6th floor, North York Central Library. These include the hardcopy version of the 1871 Census of Ontario. McMaster University and Hamilton Public Library have no census indexes other than the hard copy version of the 1871 Census of Ontario. North York Central Library and Hamilton public library have hardcopy books of the completed parts of the indexes for the 1901 Census of Hamilton and the 1901 Census of Wentworth County. The Hamilton Branch of the Ontario Genealogical society is currently indexing the 1901 Censuses of Hamilton and Wentworth County. Many census indexes are currently available online at various genealogical sites. Goods links are 'ancestry.com', 'cyndislist.com' and 'Ontario GenWeb'. Type in 'Ontario GenWebv' as a subject. One can also type in 'Online Canadian Census Indexes' or some other variant form with specific places or dates to access sites that may have online Canadian census indexes.

There is a paper copy of microfilm reels for all Canadian censuses. It is also available online at the National Archives of Canada website. Canadian censuses microfilms are available at Mills library, McMaster University, Hamilton Central Library, Toronto Reference Library, North York Central Library, Archives of Ontario, and University of Guelph Library. For those seeking Jewish ancestors, Glen Eker has completely indexed all definable people (by religion and/or ethnic origin) in Canadian censuses from 1851 to 1901 and in Newfoundland from 1921, 1935, and 1945. The Ontario and Maritimes Indexes have been published by the Ontario Genealogical Society. The Quebec Index will be out in September, with the Western Canada and the Newfoundland Indexes to follow.


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