Census Returns

Every-name censuses were taken in Canada, and its predecessor colonies, every ten years beginning in 1851. Unfortunately much of the 1851 census material was lost before the days of microfilm: for example, only one ward exists of the 1851 census of Kingston. More has survived from other areas. Kingston Branch offers online access to a series of "every name" indexes to the 1851 census returns of Hastings County thanks to the kind generosity of Kelly Townsend of Texas.

FamilySearch has searchable indexes for Canada Census from 1851 through 1891 (indexed under individual provinces in 1861).

Library and Archives Canada have an informative overview page with links to all available censuses taken in any part of what is now Canada. Most of these census records are now available on line.

However, not all of the columns for a given census will appear in digital online versions. Often there were additional questions asked on following pages. In such a case, it may still be valuable to consult the microfilmed version, which included all pages. The Government Documents unit of the Stauffer Library at Queen's University in Kingston holds a complete set of all surviving Canadian census returns up to 1911 on microfilm. The reels are in openly accessible cabinets; they are not available through interlibrary loan. A printed Finding Aid helps users locate the correct microfilm reel.

Kingston Branch has published indexes and transcriptions of selected Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, and Lanark County census records from 1844 to 1891. Please see our Publications List for the full list of titles available.

Census transcripts and indexes from wider areas and time periods, including our own publications, are available in our library.

Some commercial enterprises offer published transcripts and indexes for sale.


Kingston Branch member Wayne Douglas has created a set of templates -- in Microsoft Word -- for use when transcribing Canadian census returns. He writes: "The templates are not frozen, and the columns can be expanded in size if required. The earlier templates print on 8 1/2" x 11", and the later ones on 8 1/2" x 14", both in landscape. Because the templates are not frozen, the Undo button comes in handy." Wayne has also has created some templates in WordPerfect, but they haven't been totally corrected for typos. Write to Wayne at wkse@sympatico.ca for additional details or to request versions for your own use.