Canada Census, 1851 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: Canada Census 1851 Index .

Collection Time Period

Colonial, provincial, and local governments conducted censuses in 1851.

Record Description

Census returns are recorded on large sheets of paper that are divided into rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by province and then further divided into census districts and subdistricts.

Record Content

Important genealogical information in the 1851 census:

  • Full name
  • Age at next birthday (can be used to calculate approximate birth year)
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Occupation
  • Whether married or single
  • Whether born during
  • Cause of death during year
  • Town, village, or township of residence

How to Use the Records

Canadian census records are the best source to use for quickly identifying a family group and residence. Use the place of residence and the birthplace for each individual, along with his or her age to search for other record types. The census lists other persons living in the same household and may identify individuals for whom other records do not exist. Returns for many counties are incomplete. Returns are missing for the following counties: Shefford and Stanstead counties (Québec); Russell and Simcoe counties (Ontario); Gloucester, Kent, and Queens Counties (New Brunswick) as well as the City of Saint John (New Brunswick); all counties of Nova Scotia except Halifax and Kings.

Record History

The census for 1851 was conducted in January 1852. The completed forms were sent to the Board of Registration and Statistics and later to the Department of Agriculture. Enumeration was by census district. Census districts were voting districts, not counties, although most have the same names as counties. For the most part, census districts were synonymous with cities and counties, and subdistricts were synonymous with towns, townships, and city wards. Villages, small towns, and parishes were generally enumerated as part of the township in which they were located. Census district and county boundaries were not always the same.

Why the Record Was Created

Canadian census records were taken to enumerate the population for representation, taxation, and other purposes.

Record Reliability

Censuses are generally reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care taken by the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any family member or by a neighbor, so some information may be incorrect or may have been deliberately falsified.

Related Websites

Canada Census, 1851

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection

"Canada Census, 1851," Database and images, FamilySearch ( accessed March 4, 2011), entry for Sarah Thompson age 38; citing Census Records canada film number C_994; Census, Canada, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada.

Sources of Information for This Collection:

Canada Census, 1851. Index. FamilySearch. Census. Canada, Ottowa, Ontario. FHL microfilm, 120 reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.