Canadian Genealogy · Genealogy How Tos

A quick guide to finding Canadian Census Schedules online

Did you know there’s a Schedule II for the 1901 Canadian census?

How about the 1871 Census – did you know there were 9 schedules and nearly all of them are available?

Did you know the 1861 census has schedules for buildings, agriculture, manufacturers, minerals, and fisheries and they are located after the personal censuses?

If you asked, What’s a census schedule? you’ve come to the right place. In this post I’ll review all the Canadian censuses for schedules, provide info on which ones are available, and give you an example of how to find schedules in the 1871 and 1901 censuses.

What is a Canadian census schedule?

You are most likely aware of censuses for Schedule I: Population. Since the first Canadian census in 1825, enumerators have been knocking on doors to count people and households. But were you aware that enumerators have been collecting data on everything from agriculture to fisheries, and that some of these schedules are findable online? Library and Archives Canada is the place to start, but frankly, this information can be a little overwhelming the first few times you review it.

I spent some time today refamiliarizing myself on census schedules, and I am writing this post in the hopes you find it worthwhile.

Table of available Canadian census schedules

CensusForSchedule (y/n)Notes
1825QuebecNo
1831QuebecNo
1842OntarioNo
1842Quebec
1851Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec)YesAgricultural returns
1861Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, QuebecYesLook for the Agricultural censuses at the end of each reel of Personal census data.
1870ManitobaNo
1871Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova ScotiaYesFinding aids for Schedules 1-9 available at LAC and the files online at Collections Canada. See notes below.
1871OntarioNoHeads of household only
1881British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Northwest TerritoriesNo
1891British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories (Alberta, Assiniboia, and Saskatchewan)No
1901British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest Territories (Alberta, Assiniboia, Athabasca, Franklin, Mackenzie, Saskatchewan, Ungava)YesSchedule 2: Buildings and Lands, Churches and Schools
1906Northwest Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)No
1911British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest TerritoriesNo
1916Alberta, Saskatchewan, ManitobaNo
1921British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest TerritoriesNo
1926Alberta, Saskatchewan, ManitobaNo
OTHER CENSUS INFO AVAILABLE
1931The next Canadian census to be released in ~2023?
1640-1945Acadia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia?There is census information for areas in Canada before they joined Confederation. See LAC: Other census and related documents.
VariousFirst Nations, formerly the Dept of Indian and Inuit Affairs?Find the Record Group #10 (RG10) at Collections Canada.
1871-1911Vancouver Island?Vancouver Island censuses, independent of the national censuses for 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 at viHistory.
Table of available Canadian census schedules, 1825-1931, using data from Library and Archives Canada

Finding 1871 Census Schedules No. 2-9

In addition to counting heads, the 1871 census schedules asked for information on:

  • Schedule 2: Names of those who died in the past 12 months
  • Schedule 3: Return of public institutions, real estate, vehicles and implements
  • Schedule 4: Return of cultivated land, of field products and of plants and fruits
  • Schedule 5: Live stock, animal products, home-made fabrics and furs
  • Schedule 6: Return of industrial establishments
  • Schedule 7: Return of products of the forest
  • Schedule 8: Return of shipping and fisheries
  • Schedule 9: Return of mineral products

In addition to the free links noted in the table above, find the digitized schedules in Ancestry.ca in each section immediately after the Nominal Rolls of the Living. It’s that easy.

Note that not every subdistrict will have all schedules. From a quick spin through the records, I am finding Schedules 2 & 3 in Ontario; Schedules 2, 5, 7, & 8 in New Brunswick; none in Quebec; Schedules 2, 3, & 9 in Nova Scotia.

Quick tip: First find your ancestor in the 1871 census, note which page, then consult the last page in that sub-district. Repeat for every sub-district in which you have an ancestor. Be careful. These are 2 page return – be sure to scroll down to see Page 2. See examples below. (Click on the images to see larger.)

Finding 1901 Census Schedule No. 2

Schedule No. 2 – Buildings and Lands, Churches and Schools does not list property by name, but rather by i) page number; ii) line number; and iii) address. To locate the right Schedule 2, you will first have to find the right Schedule 1 to pull the page number, line number, and address. To illustrate, I will use my great-grandfather Yip Sang.

Step 1: Find the Schedule No. 1: Population data

The 1901 census images may be found at Ancestry.ca and Library and Archives Canada. Find the index at FamilySearch.org.

Please note that it was hard to locate this census record, which is transcribed as “Sarg Yip.” I was able to locate it by i) finding the address in 1901 (29 Dupont Street); ii) figuring out where 29 Dupont Street would have been enumerated in 1901 (District of Burrard / Vancouver City); and then iii) reading through all 543 pages of the collection for Burrard / Vancouver City.

Past-Presence.com
Snip of 1901 Census for YIP Sang at Ancestry.ca showing the headlines of Schedule No. 1 – Population. Accessed 5 Jun 2020 from Ancestry.ca at https://www.ancestry.ca/interactive/8826/z000010493/9882274?backurl=https://www.ancestry.ca/family-tree/person/tree/89143056/person/46589847066/facts.

From the above, I have transcribed the following data:

  • Year: 1901
  • Province: BC
  • District No.: 1. Burrard
  • S. District No.: D
  • Subdivision No. 17
  • in: Vancouver City
  • Page: 27
  • Line: 34

Step 2: Find Schedule 2: Buildings and Lands, Churches and Schools

Go to Library and Archives Canada’s Census of Canada, 1901.

Scroll down to find the Schedule 2 section, which looks like this.

past-presence.com
Schedule 2 at Library and Archives Canada. Accessed 6 Jun 2020 at Library and Archives Canada at https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/1901/Pages/about-census.aspx.

Click on the relevant PDF file. In this example, I’m going to use British Columbia.

You will find a PDF with 28 pages of links. This is where you will need your District Name, District Number, Sub-District Name, Sub-district Number, and Division Number. We know this is Burrard 1, Vancouver City, D, 17. There are 8 pages. See example below.

past-presence.com
British Columbia, Schedule 2, 1901, Burrard / 1 / Vancouver City / D / 17. Accessed 6 Jun 2020 from Library and Archives Canada at https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/1901/Documents/1901-BC-Schedule-2.pdf.

The pages do NOT correspond to the pages of the population census but you can use logic to minimize unnecessary searching.

The 1901 Census return for Yip Sang is on page 27 of Burrard / Vancouver City. I therefore reasoned that starting on the last page would be closer than the first page and was able to find the right page (page 5) by reading backwards. To find the right property, you’ll need:

  • Page number: 27
  • Line Number: 34
  • Address: 29 Dupont

See the results below. (Click on the images to see them larger.)

By locating Schedule 2, we learn that Yip Sang had at least 4 buildings in 1901:

  • Building #1: 1 family, 3 rooms
  • Building #2: 2 families, 8 rooms
  • Building #3: 1 family, 1 room
  • Building #4: (Dupont Rear) 1 family, 1 room

In fact, he had a LOT more, but that’s a story for another day.

I’m in Saskatchewan – is there a Schedule for me?

Don’t feel left out of the census party. In case you didn’t know it, in 1901, the province was included as part of the Northwest Territories, and there is a Schedule 2 available for this census.

Postscript

I had been thinking about the wonderfully detailed censuses of Ireland and was curious to see if I could locate similar schedules for Canada. I decided to build the above table because I wanted to be able to see, at a glance, what was available. As well, I wanted to help some of my fellow genealogists who have privately confessed they find Library and Archives Canada hard to navigate.

I hope you find this helpful. What do you think? Please leave a comment below.

7 thoughts on “A quick guide to finding Canadian Census Schedules online

    1. Great! If there’s anything that can be added to improve this post, don’t hesitate to let me know. I could do a video. What do you think?

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