1916 Census (Prairie provinces)

How the Census Was Collected

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 from the microfilm have not been scanned. They contained 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 and those of previous censuses are described in the Statistics Canada fonds, formerly Record Group 31 (RG31).

Column Headings and Interpretation

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
    • Finnish
    • 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

Military service

  • O (Overseas)
  • C (Training camps in Canada)


  • M (Male)
  • F (Female)

Marital status

  • 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)
  • More abbreviations for places of birth in Canada


  • 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 zero were to be indicated by a dash (-) or left blank.


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.

Instructions to Enumerators

Instructions to enumerators were given on how to collect the names and other information in 1916.  Those instructions can be found in Instructions to Enumerators, Canada Gazette, volume 50, 31 May 1916.

Statistical information can be found in the report Population and Agriculture: Manitoba, Saskatchewan. Census and Statistics Office, Dept. of Trade and Commerce, 1918. (AMICUS 5004976)

Issues about this Census and this Database

Some census records have not survived.  Consult the list of 1916 Census Districts and Sub-districts to find out what sub-districts are missing.  The 1911 census has also been indexed on our partners’ websites:

Street Index

For the cities of Edmonton and Winnipeg, a street index was created by Statistics Canada after the taken of the census in order to find out quickly in which sub-district or division a specific street, avenue or institution has been enumerated. Once you have located the street of interest to you, search the database using that information.

Electoral Maps

A series of electoral maps were created in 1904.

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