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1871 Canada Census Questions

The 1871 Canada census was the first national census for the country newly-formed in 1867. The previous censuses were of the British colonies. Canada in the 1871 census included the four original provinces - Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

This 1871 census of Canada was to start on April 2, 1871. Answers given to the questions were to reflect the person's status as of that date regardless of the actual date the enumerator came.

Enumerators collected information for 3,485,761 individuals distributed as follows: New Brunswick (285,594), Nova Scotia (387,800), Ontario (1,620,851), and Quebec (1,191,516). There were nine Schedules, but only Schedule 1 (Nominal return of the living) was preserved on microfilm.


Column Question
To be numbered in the order of visitation (1-6)
1 Vessels
2 Shanties
3 Houses in construction
4 Houses uninhabited
5 Houses inhabited
6 Families
7 Names
entered with the surname (or last name) first
8 Sex
M or F
9 Age at last birthday
For children under one year of age, fractions were used (for example, for 2 months, "2/12" was indicated).
10 Born within last twelve months
Month of birth for infants whose names were entered in the 7th column and that were still alive
11 Country or province of birth
For people born outside of Canada, the name of the country of origin (for example, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, and so on).
For people born in Canada, the name of the province.
12 Religion
The religion to which an individual claimed to belong, written in full.
Abbreviations were used if the name was too long
13 Origin
As given by the person questioned
14 Profession, occupation or trade
The profession, trade, or occupation, entered in full as given.
When sons followed the professions or occupations of their fathers, and were associated with them, the same description was inserted.
In the case of women, unless they had a definite occupation besides their share in the work of the family or household, the column was filled with the sign (--).
15 Married or widowed
Denoted by the letter "m" for married and "w" for widow and the sign (--) for all others, including children
16 Married within last twelve months
To record marriages that occurred within the last 12 months, the month was inserted under the husband's name and the sign (") was used for the wife.
Instruction (17-19)
17 Going to school
A "1" indicates that the individual was attending school
18 Over 20 unable to read
A "1" indicates that the individual was unable to read
19 Over 20 unable to write
A "1" indicates that the individual was unable to write
Infirmities (20-22)
The degree of the infirmity needed to have reached the stage of incapacity to be noted. A "1" indicates the relevant infirmity
20 Deaf and dumb
22 Blind
22 Unsound mind
23 Dates of operations and remarks
Comments were to be made only in very special cases. This is where the enumerator entered the day's date.

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