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Canadian Census Records

The earliest censuses in Canada date from the mid-1600"s. Many of these censuses, however, don't list the names of each individual in the family, but just the name of the head of the household. The first Canada-wide census was in 1851. It included both Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and QuŽbec). Censuses for these provinces are available for the years 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891. As new provinces joined the confederation, they were included in the censuses. Later censuses list the names of each individual, in addition to information such as age, place of birth, sex, race, occupation, marital status, and level of education. These census records can be great places to build up your family tree.

To find a census record, you must know the approximate location of the family's home at the time of the census, because the returns are organized by towns, townships, and counties, with large cities listed independently. To help you locate the microfilm reel that contains the town that you need to look at, you can use the following two books: Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1666-1891, and Catalog of Census Returns on Microfilm, 1901. They are available at many bookstores. Although the National Archives has not created a name index for the census returns, you can find some name indexes through provincial archives and genealogical societies. In general these organizations only have name indexes for the regions in which they are located.

You can peruse census microfilm at the National Archives of Canada, through interlibrary loan, and through some provincial archives and local libraries.

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