Census of the Prairie Provinces, 1916

Try our new Census Search and search 17 different censuses at once.

​This census includes Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.


The 1916 Census was the ninth census for Manitoba and the third census for Saskatchewan and Alberta. It officially began on June 1, 1916.

Thirteen commissioners were appointed to coordinate the census effort. Reporting to the commissioners, enumerators were then assigned to a clearly defined area.

In all, 1,365 enumerators visited 43 districts, divided into 1,327 enumeration area units. In addition to the regular enumerators, 45 Indian agents were employed. Members of the Northwest Mounted Police acted as enumerators in the northern parts of the districts of Nelson in Manitoba, Prince Albert and North Battleford in Saskatchewan, and East and West Edmonton in Alberta.

The enumerators collected information for 1,686,666 individuals distributed as follows:

  • Manitoba (548,831)
  • Saskatchewan (642,484)
  • Alberta (495,351)

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 1916 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 1916 Census. As exact copies, a page that was unreadable on microfilm will also be unreadable on your computer screen. Title pages appear before each sub-district; they contain this information:

  • Census year (i.e. 1916)
  • 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 (archival reference number R233-47-9-E) and those of previous censuses are described in the Statistics Canada fonds, formerly Record Group 31 (RG31). For 1916, see Mikan 3800575


The enumeration data were collected using three documents, known as schedules.

  • Schedule 1, Population
  • Schedule 2, Farm Property, Field Crops, Animals and Animal Products
  • Schedule 3, Domestic Animals, Dairy Products

Only Schedule 1 has been preserved.

Street indexes

For the cities of Edmonton and Winnipeg, a street index was created by Statistics Canada after the taking of the census in order to find out quickly in which sub-district or division a specific street, avenue or institution has been enumerated. See Censuses – Street Indexes

Instructions to enumerators and statistics

Instructions to enumerators were given on how to collect the names and other information in 1916. Those instructions can be found in Instructions to Commissioners and Enumerators.

Statistical information can be found in the report Population and Agriculture: Manitoba, Saskatchewan. Census and Statistics Office, Department of Trade and Commerce, 1918. (OCLC 797070233)

About the database

This research tool contains 1,686,666 records that are searchable by name. The database entries are in the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.

  • Search screen

    The search screen enables you to search by name of person or by place. The 1916 Census was enumerated by census districts and sub-districts, and the records were compiled accordingly. Therefore, knowledge of the districts and sub-districts is of value in locating either an individual or a geographic location.

    To assist with district names and sub-district descriptions, a list of 1916 Census Districts and Sub-districts is provided.

    The search screen enables you to search by:

    • Keywords
    • Surname
    • Given Name(s)
    • Age
    • Province

    By clicking on "Hide/Show Advanced Search Options", you will also be able to search by:

    • District Name
    • District Number
    • Sub-District Number
    • Sub-District Description
    • Division Number
    • Page Number

    You can enter one or multiple search terms, all of which can be used in combination. To use the fields in combination, you should note that the default Operator is "AND."

    Try a simple search first. You don't have to put something in every field. See also Research tips.


    Enables you to search any of the fields alone or in combination.

    Surname and given name(s)

    Enables you to search by name of person.


    • Contains numeric values only.
    • For children under one year of age, fractions were used (for example, for 2 months, "2/12" was indicated). Those ages were indexed as 0 in the database.


    Dropdown list enables you to retrieve all the returns for a specific province.

    District name

    District number

    Sub-district number

    Sub-district descriptions

    When you have entered your search terms, click on "Search". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

  • How to interpret the results

    Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

    Search results page

    The search results page has a thumbnail image of the census record and displays the following information:

    • Census Year
    • Item Number
    • Surname
    • Given Name(s)
    • Age
    • Province
    • District Name
    • Sub-District Description

    From here you have two options:

    • Click on the underlined item number to access the Item Page, which is a transcript of the record with the full reference.
    • Click on either JPG or PDF to view the full image. You can print the images or save the images onto your computer.

    Item page

    Each item page has a digitized image of the actual census page available in JPG and PDF formats and contains most of the following fields:

    • Surname
    • Given Name(s)
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Marital Status
    • Place of Birth
    • Ethnic Origin
    • Province
    • District Name
    • District Number
    • Sub-District Number
    • Sub-District Description
    • Meridian
    • Township Number
    • Range Number
    • Family Number
    • Line Number
    • Page Number
    • Microfilm Number
    • Reference

    To suggest a correction, click on the "Suggest a Correction" link to access an electronic form.

    To return to the Search Results page, click the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

Column headings and interpretation

  • Columns 1 to 26

    Number in the Order of Visitation

    Column 1. Dwelling House
    A count of the houses in which there is a family or a household.

    Column 2. Family, Household or Institution
    A count of the families or households, entered opposite the name of the head of the family.

    Residence and Personal Description

    Column 3. Name of each person in the family, household or institution

    • Entered with the surname (or last name) first. If applicable, a middle initial could be entered.
    • Entered in the following order:
      • Head
      • Wife
      • Sons and daughters (in the order of their ages)
      • Relatives, servants, boarders, lodgers or other persons.

    Column 4. Military Service

    • Special column listed all persons living in the Prairie Provinces who had enlisted for military service and were either in training camps in Canada or were overseas.
    • If overseas "O" was entered; if in Canada "C" was entered. The name of the camp was entered in column 8.

    Column 5. Place of Habitation: Township
    The number of the township.

    Column 6. Place of Habitation: Range
    The number of the range.

    Column 7. Place of Habitation: Meridian
    The number of the meridian.

    Column 8. Place of Habitation: Municipality
    The name of the municipality.

    Column 9. Relationship to head of family or household
    The head of the family (or household or institution) was entered as such (i.e. head), with the remaining members and their relation to the head (e.g. wife, son, daughter, servant, boarder, lodger, partner, etc.).

    Column 10. Sex
    Denoted by "m" for male and "f" for female.

    Column 11. Single, married, widowed, divorced or legally separated
    Denoted by "s" (single person), "m" (married), and "w" (widowed), "d" (divorced) and "l.s." (legally separated).

    Column 12. Age at last birthday

    • Age at last birthday prior to June 1, 1916.
    • For children under one year of age, fractions were used (for example, for 2 months, "2/12" was indicated).

    ​Nativity and Religion

    Column 13. Country or place of birth

    • For those born in Canada, the name of the province or territory was noted.
    • Abbreviations were used for provinces.
    • Otherwise, the name was written in full.

    Column 14. Religion
    As declared.


    Column 15. Year of immigration to Canada

    • The year in which the individual moved to Canada from another country.
    • The year in which Canadian-born persons had returned to Canada after living in another country.

    Column 16. Year of naturalization

    • For persons 21 years old and older who were born in a country other than the United Kingdom or any of its dependencies.
    • If a person had applied for citizenship but had not yet reached full status, this was indicated by the letters "pa." for papers.

    Column 17. Nationality

    • People born in Canada or naturalized citizens were considered "Canadians".
    • The country of birth or the country to which the person professed to owe allegiance.

    Race and Language

    Column 18. Racial or tribal origin

    • Usually traced through the father, except for aboriginals for whom the origin is traced through the mother.
    • Names of their tribes should have been given.
    • Children from interracial unions were classed as "Negro" (black and white races) or "Mongolian" (yellow [Chinese or Japanese] and white races).

    Column 19. Can speak English
    Yes or no.

    Column 20. Can speak French
    Yes or no.

    Column 21. Other language spoken as mother tongue.
    Selected one of the following:

    • Armenian
    • Bohemian
    • Bulgarian
    • Chinese
    • Danish
    • Dutch
    • Finni
    • sh
    • Gaelic
    • German
    • Greek
    • Japanese
    • Lithuanian
    • Magyar
    • Norwegian
    • Polish
    • Rumanian
    • Russian
    • Ruthenian
    • Slovak
    • Slovenian or Wendish
    • Spanish
    • Swedish
    • Syrian
    • Turkish
    • Welsh
    • Yiddish or Jewish


    Column 22. Can read
    Yes or no.

    Column 23. Can write
    Yes or no.

    Profession, Occupation or Means of Living

    Column 24. Chief Occupation or Trade

    • For every person of 10 years and older.
    • The particular work done for which the individual earned money, or the word "income" or "none".

    Column 25. Employer "e", Employee or worker "w", Working on own account "o.a."

    How the individual earned his/her income.

    Column 26. State where person was employed as "on farm", "in cotton mill", "in foundry", "in dry goods store", "in saw-mill", etc.

    Where the person was employed when an occupation or trade in indicated in Column 24.

Common abbreviations

A complete list of abbreviations for places of birth in Canada is on our main census page.

  • Other abbreviations

    Military service

    • O (Overseas)
    • C (Training camps in Canada)
    • E (Étranger / Overseas)


    • M (Male)
    • F (Female)

    Marital sta


    • S (Single person)
    • M (Married)
    • W (Widowed)
    • D (Divorced)
    • L.S. (Legally separated)
    • V (Veuf / Veuve / Widowed)
    • C (Célibataire / Single)


    • 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)


    • pa (papers) If a person had applied for citizenship but had not yet reached full status, this was indicated by the letters "pa" for papers.
    • r (retired)

Issues about this census and this database

Research tips

The Research Tips section on our main census page includes basic and advanced search tips and strategies.  There are also instructions on how to search by place.

Other resources and indexes

City directories

Peel's Prairie Provinces: Henderson's Directories


Electoral atlas of the Dominion of Canada, according to the Redistribution act of 1914 and the Amending act of 1915

Federal Electoral Districts of Manitoba


The 1916 census has also been indexed on the following websites:

How to obtain copies

You can print the JPG or PDF images or save the images onto your computer.

Consult Access the Records for other options such as consulting census records on microfilm.

Please do not submit copy requests because we do not provide copies of census records that are already digitized online.


Library and Archives Canada gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Ancestry.ca, without which this project would not have been possible.

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