Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Canadian Census of Industrial Establishments 1871

A website has been launched to explain and give access to electronic data from the Canadian Census of Industrial Establishments 1871. The following is from the information on the home page flagged to me by an Anonymous contributor.

* Digitized from the manuscript schedules of the 1871 Census of Canada, the only detailed industrial census returns to survive so completely from the nineteenth century
* With more than 45,000 industrial establishments, each with up to 100 variables, including many that never appeared in the published census reports
* Provides uniquely valuable snapshots of industrial activity just after Confederation, at a time of transition in technology, business organization and work discipline
* The original data supported by full definitions, descriptions of procedures, maps and indexes
* Presents an atlas with detailed listing of census districts and sub-districts in 1871
* Access to the manuscript census data supported by simple and more complex search strategies
* Offers material of interest for the study of the technology, business and work organization of industrial activity and the history of families, businesses and communities in nineteenth-century Canada.

Comment

This database will be of interest to you if you have ancestors who worked in an "industry" in 1871, or you are interested in a particular area. You won't find genealogical information but the picture you can build up of the industry in your ancestor's community will add depth to your understanding to their life and times.

There is a bit of a learning curve involved in understanding the data and the search form, but this should not deter you; the explanation is comprehensive. A quick start guide for the impatient would have been nice, but its absence is understandable as this database is the result of an academic project.

The definition of an industrial establishment used was "a place where one or several people are employed in manufacturing, altering, making up or changing from one shape into another, materials for sale, use or consumption, quite irrespectively of the amount of capital employed or of the products turned out." I was a bit surprised at the industries the definition included.

Tailors, dressmakers, printers and bookbinders were included, but grocers and butchers were not.

Photographers are included. Let's explore that industry to illustrate the capability.

The search engine allows you to determine that of 145 establishments associated with the photographic industry across Canada 80% employed only one or two people.

William Notman and partners at his establishments in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa employed a total of 83.

Notman paid an average monthly wage above $30. The industry average monthly wage was a bit less than $25.

Thank you to Anonymous for bringing this to my attention.


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