Discover your ancestor in the 1861 Canadian census.
Each result in this collection will provide you with a transcript and image of the original census form. From the transcripts, you may learn the following details:
Images, hosted at the Library and Archives Canada, will often be able to provide additional details. Since census enumerators often used abbreviations, you may find the following useful.
See the following sections to learn more about the 1861 census and deciphering the images.
Following the Act of Union in 1841, the Province of Canada was formed. It consisted of Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec). The 1861 census also collected population details for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
The 1861 census began on different dates depending on location:
From the five areas included, information was gathered from the following numbers of individuals:
Unfortunately, the original paper records of this census were destroyed in 1955 following the microfilming done by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. The process and quality of the microfilming was not consistent and has resulted in some images being of poor quality.
The following sections provide breakdowns of column headings by province found on the images from the 1861 census. Please keep in mind that terms used to describe ethnic origin and mental capacity are reflective of the time period and are not considered reflective of current usage.
The headings were printed in French; below the headings have been translated.
The first page includes county, polling district number, abstract number, and the names of the heads of families. The following columns then pertain to each family unit.
Timothy Eaton, the founder of Eaton’s department store, is listed in the 1861 census. As his marriage to Margaret wouldn’t take place till the following year, Timothy is listed as single. His occupation is recorded as that of ‘grocer + baker’. Having been born in Ireland, his place of birth is recorded as such. His religion is listed as Methodist, and it is recorded that four family members reside at this location. This census also provides details about an individual’s abode: Timothy’s house is listed as a frame house with two stories and two families living in the house.
For images that are difficult to decipher, refer to the breakdown of column headers on the search screen to assist you.
If the image continues to prove difficult to read, try downloading the image and opening it an image editing program on your computer. Increase the contrast and experiment with various settings to improve legibility.