About the Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario)

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Districts and Sub-districts: 1871 Census (Ontario)

How the Census Was Collected

The 1871 Census marked the first regularly scheduled collection of national statistics. It officially began April 2, 1871.

A total of 206 commissioners were appointed to coordinate the census. Reporting to the commissioners, 2,789 enumerators were then assigned to a clearly defined area.

Enumerators visited 206 census districts, divided into 1,701 sub-districts. These units were made up of cities, towns, groups of townships, Indian reserves, and other less well-defined areas.

Enumerators collected information for 3,485,761 individuals distributed as follows:

  • New Brunswick (285,594)
  • Nova Scotia (387,800)
  • Ontario (1,620,851)
  • Quebec (1,191,516)

The enumeration data were collected using 9 documents, known as schedules, which included a total of 211 questions.

  • Schedule 1, Nominal return of the living
  • Schedule 2, Nominal return of the deaths
  • Schedule 3, Return of public institutions, real and personal estate
  • Schedule 4, Return of cultivated land and products
  • Schedule 5, Livestock, animal products, home-made fabrics and furs
  • Schedule 6, Return of industrial establishments
  • Schedule 7, Return of products of the forest
  • Schedule 8, Return of shipping and fisheries
  • Schedule 9, Return of mineral products

With some exceptions, most of all 9 schedules have been preserved. Please note that only Schedule 1, Nominal Return of the Living, is searchable in the database. The other schedules can be viewed through the Microform Digitization tool.

From Paper to Microfilm

The 1871 Census returns were first microfilmed in 1967. Only Schedule 1 was microfilmed (microfilms C-601 to C-716). Those microfilms are now obsolete, although some libraries still hold copies of them.

The 1871 Census was re-filmed in 1975 (microfilms C-9888 to C-10570). Those reels include all 9 schedules.

The digitized images found on the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website have been made by scanning the microfilms of the 1871 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. 1871)
  • Province
  • District number and name
  • Sub-district number and name
  • Number of pages in the sub-district. The pages are not always ordered consecutively and in some cases may not exist.

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

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Column Headings and Interpretation

Schedule 1 – Nominal return of the living

Column 1. Numbered in the order of visitation: vessels
A count of the vessels. Numbered in the order visited by the enumerator.
 
Column 2. Numbered in the order of visitation: shanties
A count of the shanties. Numbered in the order visited by the enumerator.
 
Column 3. Numbered in the order of visitation: dwelling houses in construction
A count of the houses in construction. Numbered in the order visited by the enumerator.
 
Column 4. Numbered in the order of visitation: dwelling houses uninhabited
A count of the houses uninhabited. Numbered in the order visited by the enumerator.
 
Column 5. Numbered in the order of visitation: dwelling houses inhabited
A count of the houses inhabited. Numbered in the order visited by the enumerator.
 
Column 6. Numbered in the order of visitation: families
A count of the family or household. Two or more families that occupied the same house were numbered separately.
 
Column 7. Names
Entered with the surname (or last name) first.
 
Column 8. Sex
Denoted by the letter “m” for male and “f” for female.
 
Column 9. Age
  • At last birthday.
  • For children under one year of age, fractions were used (for example, for 2 months, "2/12" was indicated).
Column 10. Born within last twelve months
Month of birth for infants whose names were entered in the 7th column and that were still alive.
 
Column 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.
Column 12. Religion
  • The religion to which an individual claimed to belong, written in full.
  • Abbreviations were used if the name was too long.
Column 13. Origin
As given by the person questioned.
 
Column 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 (--).
Column 15. Married or widowed
Denoted by the letter “m” for married and “w” for widow and the sign (--) for all others, including children.
 
Column 16. Married within the 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.
 
Column 17. Instruction: going to school
A "1" indicates that the individual was attending school.
 
Column 18. Instruction: over 20 years unable to read
A "1" indicates that the individual was unable to read.
 
Column 19. Instruction: over 20 years unable to write
A "1" indicates that the individual was unable to write.
 
Column 20. Infirmities: deaf and dumb
 
Column 21. Infirmities: blind
 
Column 22. Infirmities: unsound mind
 
The degree of the infirmity needed to have reached the stage of incapacity to be noted. A "1" indicates the relevant infirmity.
 
Column 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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Schedule 2 – Nominal return of the deaths

Column 1. Names of deceased
Column 2. Sex
Column 3. Age
Column 4. Born within last twelve months
Column 5. Religion
Column 6. Country or province of birth
Column 7. Profession, occupation or trade
Column 8. Married or widowed
Column 9. Married during last twelve months
Column 10. Month of death
Column 11. Disease or other cause of death
Column 12. Remarks

Schedule 3 – Return of public institutions, real and personal estate

Reference to schedule 1

Column 1. Page
Column 2. Number

Public institutions

Column 3. Special or legal name of institution, character and classification
Column 4. Number of buildings
Column 5. Number of inmates

Real estate 

Column 6. Grand total of acres of land owned
Column 7. Number of town or village building lots
Column 8. Number of dwelling houses owned
Column 9. Number of warehouses, stores, factories, shops, etc., owned
Column 10. Number of barns and stables owned

Vehicles and implements

Column 11. Number of carriages and sleighs
Column 12. Number of cars, wagons, and sleds
Column 13. Pleasure or common boats
Column 14. Number of ploughs and cultivators
Column 15. Reapers and mowers
Column 16. Horse rakes
Column 17. Thrashing machines
Column 18. Fanning mills
Column 19. Remarks

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Schedule 4 – Return of cultivated land and products

Reference to schedule 1

Column 1. Page
Column 2. Number

Occupied lands

Column 3. Range or concession
Column 4. Number of lot
Column 5. Owner, tenant or employee
Column 6. Total number of acres occupied
Column 7. Number of acres improved
Column 8. Number of acres in pasture
Column 9. Number of acres of salt or dyked marsh
Column 10. Number of acres in gardens or orchards

Wheat

Column 11. Acres
Column 12. Spring wheat: bushels
Column 13. Fall wheat: bushels
Column 14. Bushels of barley
Column 15. Bushels of oats
Column 16. Bushels of rye
Column 17. Bushels of peas
Column 18. Bushels of beans
Column 19. Bushels of buckwheat
Column 20. Bushels of corn

Root crops

Column 21. Potatoes: acres
Column 22. Potatoes: bushels
Column 23. Bushels of turnips
Column 24. Bushels of mangel wurtzel and other beets
Column 25. Bushels of carrots or other roots

Hay crop

Column 26. Acres
Column 27. Ton of 2,000 lbs or bundles of 16 lbs of hay
Column 28. Bushels of grass or clover seed
Column 29. Bushels of flax seed

Plants, fruits and other products

Column 30. Pounds of flax and hemp
Column 31. Pounds of hops
Column 32. Pounds of tobacco
Column 33. Pounds of grapes
Column 34. Bushels of apples
Column 35. Bushels of pears, plums, and other fruits
Column 36. Pounds of maple sugar

Schedule 5 – Livestock, animal products, home-made fabrics and furs

Reference to schedule 1

Column 1. Page
Column 2. Number

Live stock

Column 3. Horses over 3 years old
Column 4. Colts and fillies
Column 5. Working oxen
Column 6. Milk cows
Column 7. Other horned cattle
Column 8. Sheep
Column 9. Swine
Column 10. Hives of bees

Animal products

Column 11. Cattle killed or sold for slaughter or export
Column 12. Sheep killed or sold for slaughter or export
Column 13. Swine killed or sold for slaughter or export
Column 14. Pounds of butter
Column 15. Pounds of home-made cheese
Column 16. Pounds of honey
Column 17. Pounds of wool

Home-made fabrics

Column 18. Yards of home-made cloth and flannel
Column 19. Yards of home-made linen

Furs

Column 20. Beaver’s skins
Column 21. Musk rats
Column 22. Minks
Column 23. Otters
Column 24. Seals
Column 25. Martins
Column 26. Foxes
Column 27. Bears
Column 28. Moose, caribou and deer
Column 29. Number of all other furs

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Schedule 6 – Return of industrial establishments

Column 1. Kind of industrial establishment. Name of proprietor or company, and other such information
Column 2. Fixed capital invested in $
Column 3. Floating capital employed in $
Column 4. Number of working months in the year

Average Number of people employed

Over 16 years
Column 5. Male
Column 6. Female
 
Under 16 years
Column 7. Boys
Column 8. Girls
Column 9. Aggregate amount of yearly wages in $

Moving Power

Column 10. Kind
Column 11. Nominal force

Raw Material

Column 12. Kind
Column 13. Quantities
Column 14. Aggregate value in $

Products

Column 15. Kind
Column 16. Quantities
Column 17. Aggregate value in $
Column 18. Remarks

Schedule 7 – Return of products of the forest

Reference to schedule 1

Column 1. Page
Column 2. Number

Square pine – Number of cubic feet

Column 3. White
Column 4. Red
Column 5. Cubic feet of square oak
Column 6. Cubic feet of square or sided tamarack
Column 7. Cubic feet of square or sided birch and maple
Column 8. Cubic feet of square elm

Cubic feet of walnut

Column 9. Black
Column 10. Other species
Column 11. Cubic feet of hickory
Column 12. Cubic feet of all other square or sided timber
Column 13. Number of census standard pine logs
Column 14. Number of census standard spruce and other logs
Column 15. Number of spars and masts
Column 16. Thousands of staves
Column 17. Cords of lath-wood
Column 18. Cords of tall-bark
Column 19. Cords of fire-wood
Column 20. Remarks

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Schedule 8 – Return of shipping and fisheries

Reference to schedule 1

Column 1. Page
Column 2. Number

Shipping

Steam vessels
Column 3. Number of shares
Column 4. Tonnage owned
 
Sailing Vessels
Column 5. Number of shares
Column 6. Tonnage owned
 
Barges
Column 7. Number
Column 8. Tonnage owned

Fisheries

Vessels and boats employed fishing
 
Vessels
Column 9. Number
Column 10. Men
 
Boats
Column 11. Number
Column 12. Men
Column 13. Number of shore men or graviers
Column 14. Number of fathoms of nets and seizes of all sorts
Column 15. Number of W. of fascines
Column 16. Quintals of cod
Column 17. Quintals of haddock, hake and pollock
Column 18. Barrels of sounds and tongues
Column 19. Barrels of herring
Column 20. Barrels of gaspareaux
Column 21. Barrels of mackerel
Column 22. Barrels of sardines
Column 23. Barrels of halibut
Column 24. Barrels of salmon
Column 25. Barrels of shad
Column 26. Barrels of eels
Column 27. Barrels of white fish
Column 28. Barrels of trout
Column 29. Other fishes per barrel
Column 30. Barrels of cured rocs
Column 31. Barrels of oysters
Column 32. Gallons of medicinal cod liver oil
Column 33. Gallons of other fish oil

Schedule 9 – Return of mineral products

Reference to schedule 1

Column 1. Page
Column 2. Number
Column 3. Ounces of gold
Column 4. Ounces of silver
Column 5. Tons of copper ore per standard of 25% of metallic copper
Column 6. Tons of iron ore per standard of 25% of metallic iron
Column 7. Tons of pyrites per standard of 50% of sulphur
Column 8. Tons of manganese ore
Column 9. Lead and other ore per ton or otherwise
Column 10. Tons of coal
Column 11. Tons of peat
Column 12. Tons of plumbago
Column 13. Tons of lump gypsum
Column 14. Tons of phosphate of lime
Column 15. Pounds of mica
Column 16. Gallons of crude petroleum
Column 17. Barrels of salt
Column 18. Cubic feet of grained marble
Column 19. Cubic feet of building stone for dressing
Column 20. Squares of roofing slate
Column 21. Remarks

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Common abbreviations

Gender
  • M (Male)
  • F (Female)
Marital status
  • S (Single)
  • M (Married)
  • W (Widowed)
  • D (Divorced)
  • L.S. (Legally separated)
Provinces and Territories
  • Alb. (Alberta)
  • B.C. (British Columbia)
  • Man. (Manitoba)
  • N.B. (New Brunswick)
  • N.S. (Nova Scotia)
  • N.W.T.  (Northwest Territories)
  • O. (Ontario)
  • P.E.I.  (Prince Edward Island)
  • Q. (Quebec)
  • Sask. (Saskatchewan)
  • Yuk. (Yukon)
Months
  • Jan. (January)
  • Feb. (February)
  • Mar. (March)
  • Apr. (April)
  • Aug. (August)
  • Sept. (September)
  • Oct. (October)
  • Nov. (November)
  • Dec.  (December)
 
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-Canada and Lower Provinces)
  • P.F.C. (Presbyterian Free Church)
  • R.P. (Reformed Presbyterian)
  • U.P. (United Presbyterian)
  • W.M. (Wesleyan Methodist)
 
Other
  • Items to be counted as one were to be indicated by either a downward stroke (|) or the figure "1."
  • Items to be counted as zero were to be indicated by a dash (-) or the space was left blank.
  • A dash (- or --) was written whenever NO is the answer or there is nothing to be recorded.
  • The number “1” was written whenever YES is the answer.
  • Ditto marks (" or do) were used, except where specifically prohibited under the instructions.
     

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