About the 1842 Census for Canada West

How the Census Was Collected

In the first half of the 19th century, a series of censuses were done to determine the distribution of parliamentary representation. Shortly after the Act of Union created the Province of Canada, consisting of Canada West (present-day Ontario) and Canada East (present-day Quebec), legislators agreed about the need for a census in September 1841. It was to be completed by February 1, 1842.

Enumerators visited 17 census districts, divided into sub-districts. These units were made up of cities, towns, parishes, villages and townships. Unfortunately, not all returns have survived. The returns for eight districts and 51 sub-districts have been preserved and are accessible through this research tool.

This census is partly nominal, meaning that only the names of the heads of families or households were collected. The other members of the families or households were counted, but not named, and totals were recorded per category.

The enumeration data were collected using one document, known as a schedule, which included a total of 89 questions, spread across eight sheets. Questions were asked in English in Canada West and French in Canada East, this being reflected by the language used for headings on the schedules.

From Paper to Microfilm

In 1955, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics was authorized by the Public Records Committee to microfilm and destroy the original paper records of the 1842 Census of Canada West. As a result, only a microfilm copy of the census exists as an archival holding. The microfilming of these records was not of consistent quality and not all images are readable.

The digitized images found on the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website have been made by scanning the microfilms of the 1842 Census of Canada West. As exact copies, a page that was unreadable on microfilm will also be unreadable on your computer screen. Title pages from the microfilm have not been scanned, and contained this information:

  • Census year (i.e. 1842)
  • Province
  • District number and name
  • Sub-district number and name
  • Page numbers for each sub-district

Column Headings and Interpretation

A pre-printed form was used with headings written in English.

Please note that when describing ethnic origin or mental capacity, some terms were used by the enumerators in 1842 and do not reflect current usage when describing a person’s background.

Column 1. Houses with their local situations in any range, concession, street, etc.

  • Houses inhabited
  • Houses vacant
  • Houses under construction

Column 2. Name of the head of each family

Column 3. Proprietor of real property

Column 4. Non-proprietor of real property

Column 5. Tenant entitled to vote at any election in city, town, etc.

Column 6. Trade or profession

Column 7. Total number of inmates in each family, male and female, currently residing in the house

Column 8. Number of persons belonging to the family, male or female, and temporarily absent from the province

Column 9. Number of natives of England belonging to each family

Column 10. Number of natives of Ireland belonging to each family

Column 11. Number of natives of Scotland belonging to each family

Column 12. Number of natives of Canada belonging to each family of French origin

Column 13. Number of natives of Canada belonging to each family of British origin

Column 14. Number of natives of continent of Europe or otherwise, specifying the same separately

Column 15. Number of natives of the United States of America

Column 16. Number of years each person has been in the province when not native thereof

Column 17. Number of aliens not naturalized

Column 18. Number of persons in the family, five years of age and under

  • Male
  • Female

Column 19. Number of persons in the family, above five and under fourteen years of age

  • Male
  • Female

Column 20. Male

  • 14 and not 18
    • Married
    • Single
  • 18 and not 21
    • Married
    • Single
  • 21 and not 30
    • Married
    • Single
  • 30 and not 60
    • Married
    • Single
  • 60 and upwards
    • Married
    • Single

Column 21. Female

  • 14 and not 45
    • Married
    • Single
  • 45 and upwards 
    • Married
    • Single

Column 22. Number of deaf and dumb people in each family, and the occupation for which they show the greatest aptitude

  • Male
  • Female

Column 23. Number of blind persons in each family

  • Male
  • Female

Column 24. Number of idiots in each family

  • Male
  • Female

Column 25. Number of lunatic persons in each family

  • Male
  • Female

Column 26. Number of persons in each family belonging to Church of England

Column 27. Number of persons in each family belonging to Church of Scotland

Column 28. Number of persons in each family belonging to Church of Rome

Column 29. Number of British Wesleyan Methodists in each family

Column 30. Number of Canadian Wesleyan Methodists in each family

Column 31. Number of Episcopal Methodists in each family

Column 32. Number of other Methodists in each family

Column 33. Number of Presbyterians not in connection with the Church of Scotland in each family

Column 34. Number of Congregationalists or Independents in each family

Column 35. Number of Baptists and Anabaptists in each family

Column 36. Number of Lutherans in each family

Column 37. Number of Quakers in each family

Column 38. Number of Moravians and Tunkers in each family

Column 39. Number of Dutch Reformed Church in each family

Column 40. Number of Jews in each family

Column 41. Number of persons of all other religious denominations not herein enumerated in each family

Column 42. Number of male coloured persons in each family

Column 43. Number of female coloured persons in each family

Column 44. Number of male farm servants employed in each family

Column 45. Number of other male servants in private families

Column 46. Number of other female servants in private families

Column 47. Number of persons engaged in trade or commerce

Column 48. Number of persons in each family subsisting on alms [paupers]

Column 49. Number of acres or arpents of land occupied by each family

Column 50. Number of acres or arpents of improved land occupied by each family

Column 51. Produce raised by each family during the last year, and estimated in Winchester bushels

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Peas
  • Indian Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Potatoes

Column 52. Number of hives of bees kept by each family last season

Column 53. Number of pounds of maple sugar made by each family last season

Column 54. Livestock owned by each family

  • Neat Cattle
  • Horses
  • Sheep
  • Hogs

Column 55. Number of yards of fulled cloth manufactured in the domestic way in the same family

Column 56. Number of yards of linen, cotton, or other thin cloth, manufactured in the domestic way in the same family

Column 57. Number of yards of flannel or other woolen cloth, not fulled, manufactured in the domestic way in the same family

Column 58. Number of pounds of wool procured during the last year in each family

Column 59. Under what tenure such land is held by each family

Column 60. Rate of seigneurial rent paid for land held “à titre de cens

Column 61. Average money rent of farm, farmed by each family

Column 62. Proportion of produce allowed to the proprietor for land held on lease or cultivated on shares by each family

Column 63. Number of colleges, academies and convents in each parish, township, extra-parochial place, ward or division of the town, etc.

Column 64. Number of elementary schools in every such place

Column 65. Number of scholars at each such college, academy, convent or elementary school

  • Male
  • Female

Column 66. Number of taverns or houses of public entertainment in every such place

Column 67. Number of stores where spirituous liquors are sold in every such place

Column 68. Number of grist mills in every such place

Column 69. Number of pairs of mill stones in each mill

Column 70. Number of oatmeal mills in every such place

Column 71. Number of barley mills in every such place

Column 72. Number of saw mills in every such place

Column 73. Number of oil mills in every such place

Column 74. Number of fulling mills in every such place

Column 75. Number of carding mills in every such place

Column 76. Number of thrashing mills in every such place

Column 77. Number of paper mills in every such place

Column 78. Number of iron works in every such place

Column 79. Number of trip hammers in every such place

Column 80. Number of nail factories in every such place

Column 81. The weight of nails so manufactured in such place

Column 82. Number of distilleries in every such place

Column 83. Number of breweries in every such place

Column 84. Number of tanneries in every such place

Column 85. Number of potash and pearl ash manufactories in every such place

Column 86. Number of manufactories of any sort in every such place, containing any machinery moved by wind, water, steam or animal power, specifying the purposes to which such machinery is applied, and by what power it is moved

Column 87. Average price of wheat in every such place since last harvest

Column 88. Average price of agricultural labour per day throughout the year

Column 89. Additional inquiry, with reference to the distribution of school money—number of children between five and sixteen in each family