Did you have ancestors living in Canada in 1881? Discover your ancestor’s religion, birth place and year, and marital status in the 1881 census.
Transcripts of the census have been provided for each result, along with the image of the actual census. Transcripts will include the following information:
Images, hosted by Library and Archives Canada, will often provide you with additional information, such as occupation. To assist you in deciphering the images, which are somewhat poor in quality, we have provided a list of the column headings below.
Column 1 – Vessels (count of vessels, numbered in order visited by the enumerator)
Column 2 – Shanties (count of shanties, numbered in order visited by the enumerator)
Column 3 – Houses in construction (count of houses in construction, numbered in order visited by the enumerator)
Column 4 – Houses uninhabited (count of uninhabited houses, numbered in order visited by the enumerator)
Column 5 – Houses inhabited (count of inhabited houses, numbered in order visited by the enumerator)
Column 6 – Families (count of the family or household – two or more families occupying the same house were to be numbered separately)
Column 7 – Names, entered with last name first
Column 8 – Sex, m for male and f for female
Column 9 – Age, at last birthday (for those under one year of age, a fraction was used – 4/12 would mean four months old)
Column 10 – Born within last 12 months (month of birth for all infants born between 4 April 1880 and 4 April 1881)
Column 11 – Country or province of birth
Column 12 – Religion, occasionally abbreviations were used:
Column 13 – Origin, indicated by country name, which may differ from place of birth (Indian refers to those descended from the Aboriginal peoples of Canada)
Column 14 – Profession, occupation, or trade (multiple can be listed for an individual, those studying a profession were listed as students of that profession, those attending college were listed as students and school children were not listed as such, and for those with no occupation other than household work, a dash was recorded)
Column 15 – Married or widowed (a dash indicated the individual had never been married)
Column 16 – Going to school (a 1 indicated the individual was attending school)
Infirmities – The infirmity needed to have reached the stage of incapacity to be recorded.
Column 17 – Deaf and dumb
Column 18 – Blind
Column 19 – Unsound mind
Column 20 – Dates of operations and remarks
In 1881, Canada consisted of British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. The census began on 4 April 1881.
The 1881 census covered 192 districts broken up into 2,139 subdistricts. Census districts and subdistricts were composed of cities, towns, townships, Indian reserves, and less-defined areas. Areas that were less defined posed a particular challenge to enumerators and resulted in individuals being missed in the census. This was particularly the case for Aboriginal people living in districts 187 (New Westminster, British Columbia) and 192 (Northwest Territories).
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.
John MacIntosh Lyle
John Lyle was an architect, designer, and teacher, born in Ireland and raised in Ontario. He played a role in the City Beautiful movement in cities across Canada and was a leader in the Beaux Arts style. Lyle is best known for being the architect of the Royal Alexandra Theatre located in Toronto, Ontario. He was the son of Central Presbyterian Church minister. In the 1881 census, we see John listed with his family, including his minister father, Samuel. John and most of his family are listed with a birth place of Ireland.
Timothy Eaton was the founder of Eaton’s department store, one of the most significant retail businesses in the history of Canada. Eaton is listed in the 1881 census with his wife and five children. He is noted as being a merchant and his birth place as Ireland. One of his daughters listed in this census, Josephine, would go on to be one of the few survivors of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.
Richard Maurice Bucke
The prominent psychiatrist Richard Bucke is found in the 1881 census. He is listed with his wife and their eight children. Bucke sought reform and encouraged occupational therapy. In 1877, Bucke was appointed the head of the provincial Asylum for the Insane.
For images that are difficult to decipher, refer to the breakdown of column headers in the What can these records tell me? section 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.