About the 1861 Census

How the Census Was Collected

The 1861 Census marked the third collection of statistics for the Province of Canada. In 1841, the Act of Union created the Province of Canada, consisting of Canada West (present-day Ontario) and Canada East (present-day Quebec). Information on population was also collected for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The census officially began on:

  • January 14, 1861 for Canada East and for Canada West;
  • March 30, 1861 for Nova Scotia;
  • August 15, 1861 for New Brunswick.

The precise date of collection of data is unknown for Prince Edward Island.

The enumerators collected information for 3,112,269 individuals distributed as follows:

  • Canada East (1,110,664)
  • Canada West (1,396,091)
  • New Brunswick (193,800)
  • Nova Scotia (330,857)
  • Prince Edward Island (80,857)

Agricultural returns provide information such as lot and concession number, acreage, livestock and agricultural products. The agricultural returns are listed by the name of the head-of-household and can be found after the personal returns for the entire county.

In some cases, the name of the head of household was indexed both from the personal census and from the agricultural census returns. This has resulted in more than one entry for one individual and is particularly noted in the returns for Canada West.

The enumeration data were collected using documents known as schedules. Each province submitted a unique schedule.

Important note: Schedules for some sub-districts have not survived. Consult the list of 1861 Census Districts and Sub-districts to determine whether the records for a district or a sub-district exist.

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 1861 Census. 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 1861 Census. 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. 1861)
  • Province
  • County name
  • Township name

Important note: The schedules were not always microfilmed in order and pagination is often inconsistent or non-existent. Page numbers sometimes alternate between stamped and handwritten numbers. In the Nova Scotia returns, the pages of schedules are often microfilmed in groups of two on one image, with the last page of one schedule beside the first page of the next schedule.

These records, and those of previous censuses, are described in the Statistics Canada fonds, formerly Record Group 31 (RG31).

Column Headings and Interpretation

Enumerators described ethnic origin or mental capacity with terms used in 1861. Some of those terms no longer reflect current usage when describing a person’s background.

Canada West
Personal census

Canada East
Personal census

New Brunswick
Schedule no. 1: population

Nova Scotia
Personal census by ages

Prince Edward Island
Heads of families

Canada West—Personal census

Column 1. Names of inmates
Column 2. Profession, trade or occupation
Column 3. Place of birth
Column 4. Married during the year
Column 5. Religion
Column 6. Residence if out of limits
Column 7. Age next birthday
Column 8. Sex: male
Column 9. Sex: female
Column 10. Married or single
Column 11. Widowers
Column 12. Widows
Column 13. Colored persons, mulatto or Indian
Column 14. Residents: members of family: male
Column 15. Residents: members of family: female
Column 16. Residents: not members: male
Column 17. Residents: not members: female
Column 18. Members of family absent: male
Column 19. Members of family absent: female
Column 20. Deaf and dumb
Column 21. Blind
Column 22. Lunatics or idiots
Column 23. Children attending school within the year: male
Column 24. Children attending school within the year: female
Column 25. Persons over 20 who cannot read or write: male
Column 26. Persons over 20 who cannot read or write: female
Column 27. Births in 1860: male
Column 28. Births in 1860: female
Column 29. Deaths in 1860: no. male
Column 30. Deaths in 1860: no. female
Column 31. Deaths in 1860: age and cause of death
Column 32. Houses: brick, stone, frame, log, etc.
Column 33. Houses: no. of stories
Column 34. Houses: no. of families living in house
Column 35. Houses: vacant
Column 36. Houses: being built
Column 37. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: horses
Column 38. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: cows
Column 39. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: sheep
Column 40. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: pigs
Column 41. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: value of livestock in dollars
Column 42. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: carriages for pleasure
Column 43. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: value of same dollars
Column 44. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: carriages for hire
Column 45. Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: value of same dollars
Column 46. Quantity of land attached to tenement
Column 47. Name of business or manufacture
Column 48. Capital invested in business in real estate and personal estate
Column 49. Raw material used, exclusive of fuel: quantities
Column 50. Raw material used, exclusive of fuel: kinds
Column 51. Raw material used, exclusive of fuel: value
Column 52. What motive power or machinery
Column 53. Average number of hands employed: male
Column 54. Average number of hands employed: female
Column 55. Average cost per month of male labor
Column 56. Average cost per month of female labor
Column 57. Annual product of business or manufacture: quantities
Column 58. Annual product of business or manufacture: kinds
Column 59. Annual product of business or manufacture: value
Column 60. Remarks

Canada East—Personal census

A pre-printed form was used with headings written only in French. For your convenience, those headings have been translated.
Column 1. Noms des personnes qui habitent la maison (Names of persons living in the house)
Column 2. Profession, métier ou occupation(Profession, trade or occupation)
Column 3. Lieu de naissance (Place of birth)
Column 4. Mariés durant l'année (Married during the year)
Column 5. Religion (Religion)
Column 6. Résidence si hors des limites (Residence if out of limits) Column 7. Âge au prochain anniversaire (Age next birthday)
Column 8. Sexe, masculin (Sex: male)
Column 9. Sexe, féminin (Sex: female)
Column 10. Marié ou non-marié (Married or not married)
Column 11. Veufs (Widowers)Column 12. Veuves (Widows)
Column 13. Personnes de couleur : mulâtres ou sauvages (Colored persons: mulattos or Indians)
Column 14. Résidents : membres de la famille : mâle (Residents: members of family: male)
Column 15. Résidents : membres de la famille : femelle (Residents: members of family: female)
Column 16. Résidents : étrangers à la famille : mâle (Residents: not members of the family: male) Column 17. Résidents : étrangers à la famille : femelle (Residents: not members of the family: female)
Column 18. Membres de la famille absents : mâle (Members of family absent: male)
Column 19. Membres de la famille absents : femelle (Members of family absent: female)
Column 20. Sourds ou muets (Deaf or dumb)
Column 21. Aveugles (Blind)
Column 22. Lunatiques ou idiots (Lunatics or idiots)
Column 23. Nombre d'enfants allants à l'école pendant l'année : mâle (Number of children attending school during the year: male)
Column 24. Nombre d'enfants allants à l'école pendant l'année : femelle (Number of children attending school during the year: female)
Column 25. Individus de plus de 20 ans ne sachant lire ni écrire : mâle (Persons over 20 who cannot read or write: male)
Column 26. Individus de plus de 20 ans ne sachant lire ni écrire : femelle (Persons over 20 who cannot read or write: female)
Column 27. Nés en 1860 : mâle (Born in 1860: male)
Column 28. Nés en 1860 : femelle (Born in 1860: female)
Column 29. Morts en 1860 : nombre : mâle (Deaths in 1860: number: male)
Column 30. Morts en 1860 : nombre : femelle (Deaths in 1860: number: female)
Column 31. Morts en 1860 : âge et cause du décès (Deaths in 1860: age and cause of death)
Column 32. Maisons : bâties en brique, en pierre ou en bois, etc. (Houses: built in brick, in stone or in wood, etc.)
Column 33. Maisons : nombre d'étages (Houses: number of floors)
Column 34. Maisons : nombre de familles habitant la maison (Houses: number of families living in the house)
Column 35. Maisons : fermées (Houses: closed)
Column 36. Maisons : en construction (Houses: under construction)
Column 37. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : chevaux (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: horses)
Column 38. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : vaches (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: cows)
Column 39. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : moutons (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: sheep)
Column 40. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : cochons (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: pigs)
Column 41. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : valeur en dollars des animaux vivants (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: value of livestock in dollars)
Column 42. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : nombre de voitures d'agrément (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: carriages for pleasure)
Column 43. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : valeur des mêmes en dollars (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: value of the same in dollars)
Column 44. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : nombre de voitures de louage (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: number of carriages for hire)
Column 45. Nombres d'animaux, etc. appartenant aux habitants des villes et non cultivateurs : valeur d'icelles en dollars (Livestock etc. of townspeople and persons not farmers: value of the same in dollars)
Column 46. Étendue de terre attachée à l'habitation (Quantity of land attached to tenement)
Column 47. Genre d'affaires ou manufacture (Kind of business or manufacture)
Column 48. Capital employé, soit en biens-fonds ou propriétés mobilières (Capital invested in property or real estate)
Column 49. Matière brute employée, le chauffage excepté : quantités (Raw material used, exclusive of fuel: quantities)
Column 50. Matière brute employée, le chauffage excepté : genre (Raw material used, exclusive of fuel: kinds)
Column 51. Matière brute employée, le chauffage excepté : valeur (Raw material used, exclusive of fuel: value)
Column 52. Force motrice ou machine (Motive power or machine)
Column 53. Nombre moyen des individus employés : hommes (Average number of hands employed: men)
Column 54. Nombre moyen des individus employés : femmes (Average number of hands employed: women)
Column 55. Moyenne du coût par mois du travail des hommes (Average cost per month of male labour)
Column 56. Moyenne du coût par mois du travail des femmes (Average cost per month of female labour)
Column 57. Produit annuel des opérations ou de la manufacture : quantités (Annual product of business or manufacture: quantities)
Column 58. Produit annuel des opérations ou de la manufacture : genre (Annual product of business or manufacture: kind)  
Column 59. Produit annuel des opérations ou de la manufacture : valeur (Annual product of business or manufacture: value)
Column 60. Remarques (Remarks)

New Brunswick—Schedule no. 1: population

Column 1. Number
Column 2. Names of inhabitants
Column 3. Sex
Column 4. Relationship to head of family
Column 5. Age
Column 6. Race and where born
Column 7. Rank or occupation
Column 8. Religious profession
Column 9. Children at school within the year
Column 10. Sick and infirm
Column 11. Deaf and dumb
Column 12. Blind
Column 13. Lunatic or idiotic
Column 14. Births in previous year
Column 15. Deaths in preceding year
Column 16. Marriages in preceding year

Nova Scotia—Personal census by ages

Column 1. Total population: males
Column 2. Total population: females
Column 3. Total population: totals
Column 4. Births since 30th March 1860: males
Column 5. Births since 30th March 1860: females
Column 6. Under one year of age: males
Column 7. Under one year of age: females
Column 8. Deaths under one year of age since 30th March 1860: males
Column 9. Deaths under one year of age since 30th March 1860: females
Column 10. Over one and under two years of age: males
Column 11. Over one and under two years of age: females
Column 12. Deaths between 1 and 2 years since March 30, 1860: males
Column 13. Deaths between 1 and 2 years since March 30, 1860: females
Column 14. Over two and under three years of age: males
Column 15. Over two and under three years of age: females
Column 16. Deaths between 2 and 3 years since March 30, 1860: males
Column 17. Deaths between 2 and 3 years since March 30, 1860: females
Column 18. Over three and under four years of age: males
Column 19. Over three and under four years of age: females
Column 20. Deaths between 3 and 4 years since March 30, 1860: males
Column 21. Deaths between 3 and 4 years since March 30, 1860: females
Column 22. Over four and under five years of age: males
Column 23. Over four and under five years of age: females
Column 24. Deaths between 4 and 5 years since March 30, 1860: males
Column 25. Deaths between 4 and 5 years since March 30, 1860: females
Column 26. Over five and under ten years of age: males
Column 27. Over five and under ten years of age: females
Column 28. Deaths between five and ten years of age since March 30, 1860: males
Column 29. Deaths between five and ten years of age since March 30, 1860: females
Column 30. Over 10 and under 15 years of age: males: married
Column 31. Over 10 and under 15 years of age: males: single
Column 32. Over 10 and under 15 years of age: females: married
Column 33. Over 10 and under 15 years of age: females: single
Column 34. Over 10 and under 15 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 35. Over 10 and under 15 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 36. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: males: married
Column 37. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: males: single
Column 38. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: males: widower
Column 39. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: females: married
Column 40. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: females: single
Column 41. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: females: widow
Column 42. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 43. Over 15 and under 20 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 44. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: males: married
Column 45. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: males: single
Column 46. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: males: widower
Column 47. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: females: married
Column 48. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: females: single
Column 49. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: females: widow
Column 50. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 51. Over 20 and under 30 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 52. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: males: married
Column 53. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: males: single
Column 54. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: males: widower
Column 55. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: females: married
Column 56. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: females: single
Column 57. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: females: widow
Column 58. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 59. Over 30 and under 40 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 60. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: males: married
Column 61. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: males: single
Column 62. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: males: widower
Column 63. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: females: married
Column 64. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: females: single
Column 65. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: females: widow
Column 66. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 67. Over 40 and under 50 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 68. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: males: married
Column 69. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: males: single
Column 70. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: males: widower
Column 71. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: females: married
Column 72. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: females: single
Column 73. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: females: widow
Column 74. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 75. Over 50 and under 60 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 76. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: males: married
Column 77. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: males: single
Column 78. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: males: widower
Column 79. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: females: married
Column 80. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: females: single
Column 81. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: females: widow
Column 82. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 83. Over 60 and under 70 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 84. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: males: married
Column 85. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: males: single
Column 86. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: males: widower
Column 87. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: females: married
Column 88. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: females: single
Column 89. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: females: widow
Column 90. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 91. Over 70 and under 80 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 92. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: males: married
Column 93. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: males: single
Column 94. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: males: widower
Column 95. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: females: married
Column 96. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: females: single
Column 97. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: females: widow
Column 98. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 99. Over 80 and under 90 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 100. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: males: married
Column 101. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: males: single
Column 102. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: males: widower
Column 103. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: females: married
Column 104. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: females: single
Column 105. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: females: widow
Column 106. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 107. Over 90 and under 100 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 108. Over 100 years of age: males: married
Column 109. Over 100 years of age: males: single
Column 110. Over 100 years of age: males: widower
Column 111. Over 100 years of age: females: married
Column 112. Over 100 years of age: females: single Column 113. Over 100 years of age: females: widow
Column 114. Over 100 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: males
Column 115. Over 100 years of age: deaths since March 30, 1860: females
Column 116. Ages not given: males
Column 117. Ages not given: females
Column 118. Deaths: ages not given: males
Column 119. Deaths: ages not given: females
Column 120. Males: married
Column 121. Males: single
Column 122. Males: widowers
Column 123. Males: total
Column 124. Females: married
Column 125. Females: single
Column 126. Females: widows
Column 127. Females: total
Column 128. Males and females: grand total
Column 129. Deaths: males
Column 130. Deaths: females
Column 131. Deaf and dumb: males
Column 132. Deaf and dumb: females
Column 133. Blind: males
Column 134. Blind: females
Column 135. Lunatics: males
Column 136. Lunatics: females
Column 137. Idiots: males
Column 138. Idiots: females
Column 139. Cannot read: over 5 and under 15 years of age: males
Column 140. Cannot read: over 5 and under 15 years of age: females
Column 141. Cannot read: above 15 years: males
Column 142. Cannot read: above 15 years: females
Column 143. Cannot write: over 5 and under 15 years of age: males
Column 144. Cannot write: over 5 and under 15 years of age: females
Column 145. Cannot write: over 15 years: males
Column 146. Cannot write: over 15 years: females
Column 147. Married since March 30, 1860

Prince Edward Island—Heads of families

Column 1. Name of city, town, township or royalty
Column 2. Name of the head of each family
Column 3. Trade, profession or occupation
Column 4. Males: under 5 years of age
Column 5. Males: from 5 to 16
Column 6. Males: from 16 to 21
Column 7. Males: from 21 to 45
Column 8. Males: from 45 to 60
Column 9. Males: upwards of 60
Column 10. Females: under 5 years of age
Column 11. Females: from 5 to 16
Column 12. Females: from 16 to 21
Column 13. Females: from 21 to 45
Column 14. Females: from 45 to 60
Column 15. Females: upwards of 60
Column 16. Number of deaf and dumb in each family
Column 17. Number of blind in each family
Column 18. Number who have not been vaccinated or had the smallpox in each family
Column 19. Total number in each family (including servants and apprentices)
Column 20. Number of married persons in each family
Column 21. Number of single persons in each family
Column 22. Number of insane in each family
Column 23. Number of your family married in the past year
Column 24. Number of deaths in your family in the past year
Column 25. Number of births in your family in the past year
Column 26. Indians: males in each family
Column 27. Indians: females in each family
Column 28. Number of persons in each family in connection with the Church of England
Column 29. Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces
Column 30. Kirk of Scotland
Column 31. Number of Roman Catholics in each family
Column 32. Number of Methodists in each family
Column 33. Number of Baptists in each family
Column 34. Number of Bible Christians in each family
Column 35. Number of Quakers in each family
Column 36. Number of Universalists in each family
Column 37. Number of each family of any other denomination
Column 38. Number of acres held by each family by fee simple
Column 39. Number of acres held by each family by leasehold or by agreement for lease
Column 40. Number of acres held by each family by verbal agreement
Column 41. Number of acres held by each family or occupants being neither freeholders nor tenants
Column 42. Number of years of term of lease
Column 43. Number of years of term of lease expired
Column 44. Amount of rent paid by each family: present rent paid by each family per acre
Column 45. Amount of rent paid by each family: proprietor's name
Column 46. Amount of rent paid by each family: increasing rent per acre
Column 47. Amount of rent paid by each family: full rent, and what year it comes to full rent
Column 48. Amount of rent paid by each family: rent in sterling
Column 49. Amount of rent paid by each family: rent in currency

Common Abbreviations

Gender
  • M (Male)
  • F (Female)
Marital Status
  • M (Married)
  • S (Single)
  • W (Widow)
  • Wr (Widower)
Provinces
  • C.E. (Canada East)
  • C.W. (Canada West)
  • L.C. (Lower Canada)
  • U.C. (Upper Canada)
Religion
  • B.C. (Bible Church)
  • C. (of) E. (Church of England)
  • C. (of) S. (Church of Scotland)
  • E.M.C. (Episcopal Methodist Church)
  • F.C. (Free Church—Presbyterian)
  • M.E.C. (Methodist Episcopal Church)
  • P.C.L.P. (Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces)
  • P.F.C. (Presbyterian Free Church)
  • R.C. (Roman Catholic)
  • R.P. (Reformed Presbyterian)
  • U.P. (United Presbyterian)
  • W.M. (Wesleyan Methodist)

Further Research