Discover your ancestor in the 1871 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 1871 census and deciphering the images.
The 1871 census began on 2 April 1871. The process of collecting population data for this census included the assignment of 2,789 enumerators to designated areas. For this purpose, Canada was divided into 206 census districts and 1,701 sub-districts.
In total, enumerators gathered information on 3,485,761 individuals in Canada:
In 1967, the census returns were microfilmed, with a re-filming done in 1975. The images provided by the Library and Archives Canada were made by scanning these microfilms. As such, where the microfilm is unreadable, so is the provided image.
The column headings for schedule one, nominal return of the living, are as follows:
Numbered in the order of visitation by the enumerator
Infirmities -- the infirmity would have needed to reach the stage of incapacity to be noted
Column 22 – Unsound mind
Column 23 – Dates of operations and remarks (comments were rare and used only for very special cases; this is where the enumerator entered the day’s date)
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, sailed for Canada from his home country of Scotland the year prior to this census being taken. In 1871, he is recorded as living in Ontario with his parents, Alexander and Eliza, and his widowed sister-in-law, Caroline Ottaway. Both Bell and his father are listed as lecturers as their occupations.
John Ostell was an architect; his notable works include Montreal’s original Custom House and the McGill University Arts Building. From his census entry, we see that Ostell was born in England and married to Eleonore, who was, in fact, a member of a prominent French Catholic family in Montreal.
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.