Recording Canadian Census data

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This guide explains how to use GRAMPS to record information contained in the various Canadian censi. It demonstrates how to enter Repositories, Sources, People and Families. How to link them together to ensure that every piece of information is attributed back to its source. It also explains how to use the Clipboard and "drag and drop" to speed up data entry.

For genealogists with Canadian ancestors, the Canadian Census returns are a very important source of information. Censi have been conducted every 10 years in Canada since 1851, with additional censi of the western provinces in 1906 and 1916. Most Canadian censi are available free of charge in online databases maintained by Library and Archives Canada. The most recent census of the Northwest Provinces, taken in 1916, is available via Ancestry.ca. Other online resources include Automated Genealogy and Family Search.

Census returns are typically organized by location and each return shows a list of households living in a particular street or rural area. This means that once you find a return showing one of your ancestors it will also show the rest their family members living in the same house.

Information contained in a Census return

An example of a 1901 Canadian census page can be seen here (You will need to be able to view PDF files from your browser to see it):

1901 Census of Canada, Province of Ontario, District 129, Sub-district a-2

As it turns out, this page contains a return from the street where my grandfather was living in 1901. As we walk through the information on this page, we'll see how to extract useful information and record it in gramps.

Starting from the top, we can see that the proper title for this census is "FOURTH CENSUS OF CANADA, 1901" though I prefer to change it to mixed case for easier reading, "Fourth Census of Canada, 1901." Centered on the page we see "Schedule No. 1 Population." This census has two schedules. Schedule 2 contains additional information, including street addresses, that is valuable and worth preserving. On the top right-hand side of the page, we have the title translated into French.

Below the title line, the sub-title identifies where the census was recorded for this page. You can see that it says, "Province: Ont., District No. 129 E York, S. District a, Polling subdivision No. 2 in East Toronto Village.

Below the sub-title we can see the name of the pollster, H.C. Moore and the dates he visited the households on this page April 1 & 2.