Source Information and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

1881 Canada Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. All use is subject to the limited use license and other terms and conditions applicable to this site.

Images reproduced by courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

Original data: Canada. "Census of Canada, 1881." Statistics Canada Fonds, Record Group 31-C-1. LAC microfilm C-13162 to C-13286. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

About 1881 Census of Canada

This database is an every name index to individuals enumerated in the 1881 Canada Census, the second census of Canada since confederation in 1867. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1881 Census (images are of Library and Archives Canada microfilm reels C-13162 to C-13286).

What Areas are Included:

The 1881 census includes seven provinces - British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec – and the Northwest Territories, which at the time consisted of modern-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Ontario, northern Quebec, Labrador, Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories.

Why Census Records are Important:

Census records provide many details about individuals and families. They are useful for pinpointing individuals and families in a particular time and place and depict certain aspects of their lives. Because of the amount of information provided in censuses, combined with the fact that individuals are generally shown in “family groups”, censuses are often the first sources turned to when beginning family history research.

How the Census is Organized:

For the 1881 census each province was divided into census districts. These districts were subsequently divided into sub-districts. Districts were roughly equivalent to electoral districts, cities, and counties. Sub-Districts were based off of towns, townships, and city wards. Each District and Sub-District was assigned a number for administrative purposes. The District Number is unique only to the province in which it belongs and the Sub-District Number is unique only to the District in which it belongs.

Enumerator Instructions:

The 1881 Census was begun on 4 April 1881 and was to enumerate every individual in the country. Answers to census questions were to reflect the individual’s status as of April 4th, regardless of the day the enumeration actually took place. However, individuals who were absent on the day of enumeration were still to be counted in the place where they usually lived.

The head of household was to be enumerated first, followed by other members of the household. The following questions were asked by enumerators:

  • Number of family, household, or institution in order of visitation
  • Name of each person in family or household on 4 April 1881
  • Sex (M = Male; F = Female)
  • Age
  • Born within the last twelve months
  • Country or province of birth
  • Religion
  • Origin (Ethnic Background) – “Indian” was used for people of Native descent
  • Profession, occupation, or trade
  • Married or Widowed
  • Going to school
  • Whether deaf and dumb, blind, or of an unsound mind