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Source Information

Ancestry.com. 1921 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2013.
Original data: Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, 2013. Series RG31. Statistics Canada Fonds.

Images are reproduced with the permission of Library and Archives Canada.

About 1921 Census of Canada

This database contains an every-name index to individuals enumerated in the 1921 Canada Census, the sixth census of Canada since confederation in 1867. In addition, the names listed on the population schedules are linked to actual images from the 1921 Census. The census can also be browsed by province, district, and sub-district.

Canada added 1,581,840 new residents between the 1911 and 1921 censuses, a 22 percent increase. The Prairie Provinces were the big gainers, with Alberta and Saskatchewan each growing by more than 50 percent, while the Yukon lost half of its population. The 1921 Canada Census records details about almost 8.8 million Canadians and is the most recent Canadian census available to the public, released in 2013 after a 92-year waiting period to protect the privacy of those enumerated.

Why Census Records Are Important

Census records are some of the richest family history sources for a number of reasons:

   Scope: they attempt to count every person in the country
   Detail: the 1921 census asked 35 different questions about each individual
   Families: they organize people into family groups
   Place and time: they locate individuals and families at a particular place on a particular day

All this means census records are often the first sources people look for to begin their family history research.

How the Census Is Organized

For the 1921 census, each province was divided into census districts, and districts were divided into subdistricts. Districts were roughly equivalent to electoral districts, cities, and counties. Subdistricts were typically towns, townships, and city wards.

Questions the Census Asked

June 1, 1921, was the date for the 1921 census. Not every census form was filled out on that day, but questions were to be answered based on that date. Enumerators recorded answers to the following queries:

  • number of dwelling in order of visitation
  • number of family, household, or institution in order of visitation
  • name of each person whose place of abode was in the household
  • place of habitation
  • tenure and class of home (owned or rented, rent paid, class of house, house occupied by family)
  • sex
  • relationship of person enumerated to the head of household
  • marital status (single, married, widowed, divorced, or legally separated)
  • age at last birthday
  • country or place of birth (if Canada, specify province or territory)
  • country or place of birth for person’s father and mother
  • year of immigration to Canada, if an immigrant
  • year of naturalization, if formerly an alien
  • racial or tribal origin
  • nationality (country to which person owes allegiance)
  • can speak English
  • can speak French
  • religion
  • can read and write
  • months at school since September 1, 1920
  • chief occupation or trade
  • employment other than chief occupation or trade, if any
  • employer, employee, worker, or working on own account
  • principal product, where employed (e.g., ‘in drug store’, ‘on farm’, etc.), or nature of work
  • total earnings in past 12 months
  • currently out of work
  • number of weeks unemployed in past 12 months
  • number of weeks unemployed in past 12 months because of illness

Note: Forms for the Prairie Provinces differed slightly, and an abbreviated version of the census form was used to enumerate unorganized areas such as the territories. These abbreviated forms contained a subset of the questions on the long version of the census, so not all of the information listed above will be available for everyone enumerated in the census.

A Few Facts About the 1921 Census

  • The cost of taking the 1921 census was $1.44 million, or 16.4 cents per person enumerated.
  • Canada's population in 1921 was tallied at 8,788,483. This represented a 21.95% increase over 1911, which was not as high as expected.
  • Origins of the population according to the census: 55.4% British (4,868,903), 27.9% French (2,452,751); next highest was German at 3.35% (294,636).
  • Immigrants in 1921: 148,477, of whom 75,673 were from the UK and 48,059 from the USA. Next highest nationalities were Polish and Italian.
  • In spite of the growth in the west, 62,572 immigrants indicated that their destination was Ontario; 43,822 headed for the prairies.
  • Toronto was the 2nd-largest city after Montreal. Both Toronto and Montreal had populations numbering more than half a million in 1921, a first for any Canadian city.
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