How the Census Was Collected
The 1911 Census, which officially began on June, 1, 1911, marked the fifth regularly scheduled collection of national statistics.
A total of 264 commissioners were appointed to coordinate the census. Reporting to the commissioners, 9,703 enumerators were then assigned to a clearly defined area.
In all, enumerators visited 218 census districts, divided into multiple enumeration units. These units were made up of cities, towns, groups of townships, Indian reserves, and other less well-defined areas. In unorganized regions, First Nation reserves and the Northwest Territories, special agents (including employees of the Department of Indian Affairs and members of the Royal North West Mounted Police) could act as enumerators.
Overall, enumerators collected information for 7,204,838 individuals distributed as follows:
- Alberta (374,663)
- British Columbia (392,480)
- Manitoba (455,614)
- New Brunswick (351,889)
- Northwest Territories (17,196)
- Nova Scotia (492,338)
- Ontario (2,523,274)
- Prince Edward Island (93,728)
- Quebec (2,002,712)
- Saskatchewan (492,432)
- Yukon (8,512)
The enumeration data were collected using 13 documents, known as schedules, which included a total of 549 questions. Only Schedule No. 1 has been preserved.
- Schedule 1, Population
- Schedule 2, Mortality, Disability and Compensation
- Schedule 3, Houses, Buildings and Fruit
- Schedule 4, Field Crops - Agriculture - Grain and Other Field Crops for the Harvest Year 1910
- Schedule 5, Agriculture - Hoed Crops, Tobacco, Hops and Grass Seeds in 1910 and Field Crop Areas in 1911
- Schedule 6, Agriculture - Animal and Animal Products
- Schedule 7, Farm and Urban Values
- Schedule 8, Forest Products
- Schedule 9, Manufactures
- Schedule 10, Churches, Schools, etc.
- Schedule 11, Fisheries
- Schedule 12, Dairy Factories
- Schedule 13, Mineral Products
From Paper to Microfilm
In 1955, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics was authorized by the Public Records Committee to film and destroy the original paper records of the 1911 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 1911 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. They contained this information:
- Census year (i.e. 1911)
- Province or territory
- 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).
Column Headings and Interpretation
Numbered in the Order of Visitation
Column 1. Dwelling House. A count of the houses, numbered in the order visited by the enumerator.
Column 2. Family, Household or Institution. A count of the family or household. Two or more families that occupied the same house were to be numbered separately.
Residence and Personal Description
Column 3. Name of Each Person in the Family, Household or Institution. Surname (last name) first.
Column 4. Place of Habitation
- For cities, towns or incorporated villages, the number of the house and the name of the street, such as "14 Bay Street."
- For rural districts, the name of the township, lot, parish or cadastral number such as "lot 13, concession 1."
- For Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the location was noted by township, range or meridian such as "T. 14, R. 9, W. 3," for township 14, range 9, west of the 3rd meridian.
Column 5. Sex. Denoted by “m” for male and “f” for female.
Column 6. Relationship to Head of Family or Household
- The head of the family (or household or institution) was entered as such (that is, head), with the remaining members and their relation to the head (for example, wife, son, daughter, servant, boarder, lodger, partner).
- People in an institution were described as officer, inmate, patient, prisoner, pupil, and so on. The chief officer of the institution was designated through his/her proper title (for example, warden, superintendent or principal).
Column 7. Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced or Legally Separated. Denoted by the letter "s" for single, "m" for married, "w" for widowed, "d" for divorced or "l.s." for legally separated.
Column 8. Month of Birth. The first syllable for each month (except in the cases of May, June or July, which were written in full).
Column 9. Year of Birth. Entered in full for each individual.
Column 10. Age at Last Birthday
- For people one year of age and over, the number of years completed before June 1, 1911.
- For children under one year of age, fractions were used (for example, for 2 months, "2/12" was indicated).
Citizenship, Nationality and Religion
Column 11. Country or Place of Birth
- For people born outside of Canada, the name of the country of origin (for example, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, etc.).
- For people born in Canada, the name of the province or territory.
Column 12. Year of Immigration to Canada, if an Immigrant. The year in which the individual moved to Canada from another country.
Column 13. Year of Naturalization, if Formerly an Alien. For persons 21 years of age and over, who were born in a country outside the United Kingdom or any of its dependencies and who had become naturalized.
Column 14. Racial or Tribal Origin
- Generally traced through the father.
- Aboriginal people were to have their racial or tribal origin traced through their mothers, with the specific name of the First Nation entered.
Column 15. Nationality
- Canadian for those who lived in Canada and who had acquired rights of citizenship.
- For Non-Canadians, the country of their birth, or the country to which they professed allegiance.
Column 16. Religion. The religion to which an individual claimed to belong written in full.
Principal Profession or Trade
Column 17. Chief Occupation or Trade
- For every person 10 years of age and over.
- The title that most accurately described the "gainful" work through which the individual earned money or a money equivalent (for example, physician, nurse, carpenter, farmer, stenographer, etc.).
- "Income," for individuals who did not have a specific occupation, but that instead subsisted on an independent income, such as investments, pensions, superannuations.
- "None," for individuals 10 years of age and over who did not have an occupation and who did not live on an independent income.
Column 18. Living on Own Means
- Any employment or occupation that supplemented an individual's earnings.
- For anyone 10 years of age and over.
A numerical code was used for column 18 (for example, 6-0-32, 6-6-32 or 6-9-32). The following explanations were taken from the publication Index to Occupations
, Ottawa, Census and Statistics Office, 1911 (AMICUS 7693172).
For each category, a list of trades was created using the numbers 00 to 99. On the original census returns, take note of the first and third parts of the code. Then consult the Occupational Codes chart
(PDF 34 KB) to obtain the meaning of the code.
The first part of the code refers to one of the general main divisions of occupations or industries.
of the Code
Main Divisions of Occupations or Industries
Domestic and personal service
Civil and municipal service
Fisheries and hunting
Forestry and lumbering
Manufacturers—mechanical and textiles
Manufacturers—food and clothing
Trade and merchandising
The second part of the code refers to the class of worker. A special code was created for the third category, Civil and municipal government, to include military ranks.
of the Code
Class of Worker
Self-employed or owner of the business
Managers, assistant managers
Superintendents, assistant superintendents, supervisors
Foremen, bosses, gang bosses, paymasters, treasurers
Agents, brokers, commission men
Inspectors, weighers, graders
Employees, workers, operators, skilled workers
Clerks, companions, timekeepers
Apprentices, helpers, learners, assistants
Labourers, unskilled, messengers, teamsters
The third part of the code refers to the trade.
of the Code
Admirals, generals, surveyors, etc.
Captains, colonels, postmasters, teachers, deputies, assessors, sheriffs, librarians, assistants, chief clerks, supervisors, etc.
Lieutenants, police inspectors, paymasters, collectors, treasurers, auditors, marshals, etc.
Sergeants, corporals, bandsmen, quartermasters, etc.
Inspectors, scalers, gaugers, measurers, roundsmen, appraisers, keepers, etc.
Employees, operators, privates, marines, sailors, policemen, letter carriers, etc.
Bookkeepers, clerks, stenographers, secretaries, court stenographers, etc.
Helpers, assistants, attendants, etc.
Labourers, messengers, watchmen, etc.
Column 19. Employer. Someone who employed other helpers, other than domestic servants, for his own business.
Column 20. Employee
- Someone who worked for salary or wages, whether as a general manager of a bank, a superintendent, an insurance agent, a railway foreman, or a day labourer.
- The term "W," for wage earner, was to be entered.
Column 21. Working on Own Account
- Someone who was employed in a gainful occupation and who was neither an employer nor an employee.
- "O.A" for "own account" was therefore to be entered in this column.
Column 22. State Where Person Is Employed, as "on Farm," "in Woolen Mill," "at Foundry Shop," "in Drug Store," etc. Physical place where the individual works.
Column 23. Weeks Employed in 1910 at Chief Occupation or Trade. Number of weeks the individual worked in their chief occupation.
Column 24. Weeks Employed in 1910 at Other Than Chief Occupation or Trade, if Any. To be used if an entry had been made under “Living on own means.”
Column 25. Hours of Working Time per Week at Chief Occupation. Number of hours worked by the person, during an average workweek at any (or all) occupations.
Column 26. Hours of Working Time per Week at Other Occupation, if Any. Number of hours worked by the person, during an average workweek at any (or all) occupations.
Column 27. Total Earnings in 1910 from Chief Occupation or Trade. Total wage earned from the "Chief Occupation or Trade."
Column 28. Total Earnings in 1910 from Other Than Chief Occupation or Trade, if Any. Wages from any employment other than chief occupation.
Column 29. Rate of Earnings per Hour When Employed by the Hour-Cents. Persons employed in the construction and mechanical trades were believed to be paid according to a fixed schedule of rates per hour. Individuals paid in such a manner were to have an entry in this column.
Insurance Held at Date
Column 30. Upon Life $. The value of the policy which was in force as of June 1, 1911, for any person who carried life insurance.
Column 31. Against Accident or Sickness $. The value of the policy which was in force as of June 1, 1911, for any person who carried accident or sickness insurance.
Column 32. Cost of Insurance in Census Year $. The total cost of the insurance from June 1, 1910 to June 1, 1911.
Education and Language of Each Person Five Years of Age and Over
Column 33. Months at School in 1910. For individuals of school age—aged between 5 and 21 years.
Column 34. Can Read. Yes or no.
Column 35. Can Write. Yes or no.
Column 36. Language Commonly Spoken
- "E" for only English and "F" for only French.
- For individuals who spoke both languages, the entry was to be "E" and "F."
- If neither English nor French had been learned, then only the full name of the spoken language was to be entered.
Column 37. Cost of Education in 1910 for Persons Over 16 Years of Age at College, Convent or University. For the 1910 calendar year for every individual over 16 years of age, whether at high school, collegiate institute, college, seminary, university, or any other place.
Infirmities (Specify Age When Infirmity Appeared)
Column 38. Blind
Column 39. Deaf and Dumb
Column 40. Crazy or Lunatic
Column 41. Idiotic or Silly
For infirmity to be noted, the degree needed to have reached the stage of incapacity. If the infirmity developed in childhood, "child" was entered followed by the age at which the infirmity appeared.
- S (Single person)
- 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)
- Jan. (January)
- Feb. (February)
- Mar. (March)
- Apr. (April)
- Aug. (August)
- Sept. (September)
- Oct. (October)
- Nov. (November)
- Dec. (December)
- 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)
- 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.
- Ditto marks (") were not to be used, except where specifically called for under the instructions.
- Instructions to Enumerators, Canada Gazette, volume 44, 31 22 April 1911.
- Fifth Census of Canada, 1911, Canada, Census and Statistics Office, 1912–1915, 6 volumes (AMICUS 9579194).
- Special instructions given to enumerators in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, Canada Gazette, volume 44, 18 February 1911.