Sunday, 16 December 2007

Canada Census Indexes

For family history the censuses, along with civil registration records, are fundamental. England, Wales, Scotland and the USA have name-indexed versions of all their existing and publicly accessible census returns available online, leaving Canadian genealogists feeling second rate. The good news is that it looks as if we won't have too long to wait to see further progress.

The returns of 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 are those taken for all of post-confederation (1867) Canada that are released and list each person by name.

One of the first census records to be indexed was 1871 for heads of household in Ontario. The indexed version is available at the LAC website. FamilySearch Indexing have a project to index the whole census. The project started in south-western Ontario and is now serving Nova Scotia pages for online indexing. The project is now limiting the time available to complete each image to four days in an effort to finish it off soon.

The 1881 census index has been available at for several years.

The 1891 census is now being indexed by and should be available in 2008.

Ancestry have also indexed the 1901 and 1911 censuses, as well as the 1906 census of the Prairie Provinces. These are available by subscription, and also at the free site

There are pre-confederation censuses for 1851 (indexed by Ancestry), 1861 for more restricted areas and some earlier census that were more local or restricted to heads of household. An entirely different regime applied for Newfoundland and Labrador prior to that province joining Canada in 1949. An overview of the census records is at the Canadian Genealogy Centre website.

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