Discover your ancestor in the 1901 Canadian census. Learn if your ancestor was a native of Canada or if your ancestor was a naturalised citizen.
For each result, you will be provided with a transcript that covers key details from the 1901 census and a link to the digital image of the original census form. The images, microfilmed in 1955, are held at the Library and Archives Canada website.
Information will vary from transcript to transcript based upon what was originally recorded in the census and the legibility of the digital image, but most transcripts will include the following fields:
Race or tribe
Age – for those under the age of one, their age is expressed in fractions (e.g. 3/12 means 3 months old)
Relationship to head of household
Images will often provide you with additional information, such as occupation and religion. Please note that the information recorded may be in English or French.
The census started on 31 March 1901. There were just shy of 9,000 enumerators sent out for the 1901 census and 35 commissioners. The census recorded a total of 5,371,315 individuals. A breakdown by place is as follows:
British Columbia - 178,657
Manitoba - 255,211
New Brunswick - 331,120
Nova Scotia - 459,574
Ontario - 2,182,947
Prince Edward Island - 103,259
Quebec - 1,648,898
In total, there were 206 census districts and 3,204 sub-districts. The original records were microfilmed in 1955 and the original hardcopy documents subsequently destroyed. Sadly, not all census records have survived; explore the List of districts and sub-districts linked to in the Useful links and resources to discover which sub-districts are missing.
You may discover in your perusing of the images that the clarity is poor for some of the images; unfortunately, there was no consistency in scanning quality across the collection. To aid you in deciphering what the original images have to offer, a complete breakdown of the column headings is included below.
Please note that where the answer to a question was yes, the number 1 was recorded, and where the answer was no, a dash (-) was recorded.
Column 1 – dwelling house
Column 2 – family or household
Column 3 – names of individuals in family or household on 31 March 1901
Column 4 – sex (m for male, f for female)
Column 5 – colour (the following designations were used in the 1901 census; by today’s standards, these terms are, at best, antiquated, and they do not reflect current practices for the Canadian census)
W for white – those of European descent
R for red – Native Canadians
B for black – those of African descent
Y for yellow – those of Chinese or Japanese descent
Children of mixed race (Caucasian and other heritage) were recorded as members of the non-white race.
Column 6 – relationship to head of house
Column 7 – marital status—single (s), married (m), widowed (w), or divorced (d)
Column 8 – month and date of birth
Column 9 – birth year
Column 10 – age at last birthday (as of 31 March 1901 and fractions are used for those under the age of one, such as 4/12 for 4 months old)
Column 11 – place / country of birth
For those born in Canada, the province or territory was recorded
For those born outside of Canada, the birth country was listed
Additionally, r was noted to indicate rural and u was used to indicate urban
Column 12 – year of immigration to Canada (if applicable)
Column 13 – year of naturalization (if applicable)
Column 14 – racial or tribal origin usually traced through paternal line except for Aboriginals who were traced through the maternal line, with the name of the First Nation indicated. Breed / half-breed indicated a mixed Native and other background. Some common abbreviations are as follows:
Fb (French breed)
Eb (English breed)
Sb (Scottish breed)
Ib (Irish breed)
Ob (other breed)
Cree fb (Cree and French breed)
Column 15 – nationality (for non-Canadians, birth country or country of professed allegiance is listed)
Column 16 – religion (listed in full except where the name was too long)
B.C. (Bible Christian)
C. (of) E. (Church of England)
C. (of) S. (Church of Scotland)
E.M.C. (Episcopal Methodist Church)
F.C. (Free Church – Presbyterian)
M.E.C. (Methodist Episcopal Church)
P.C.L.P. (Presbyterian – Canada and Lower Provinces)
P.F.C. (Presbyterian Free Church)
R.P. (Reformed Presbyterian)
U.P. (United Presbyterian)
W.M. (Wesleyan Methodist)
Column 17 – profession, occupation, trade, or means of living of each person (for retired individuals, r is recorded)
Column 18 – living on own means (those who live off income other than salary)
Column 19 – employer
Column 20 – employee
Column 21 – working on own account
Column 22 – Working at trade in factory or in home (specify by f for factory and h for home, or both, as the case may be)
Column 23 – Months employed at trade in factory
Column 24 – Months employed at trade in home
Column 25 – Months employed in other occupation than trade in factory or home
Column 26 – Earnings from occupation or trade
Column 27 – Extra earnings (from other than chief occupation or trade)
Column 28 – Months at school in year (for individuals over the age of five and under the age of 21)
Column 29 – whether individual can read
Column 30 – whether individual can write
Column 31 – whether individual can speak English
Column 32 – whether individual can speak French
Column 33 – mother tongue (if spoken, whether or not fluent)
Column 34 – infirmities—the infirmity needed to be incapacitating for it to be noted (if infirmity dates from childhood, add from childhood)
Harold A Rogers
Harold Allin Rogers founded the organisation Kin Canada, which promotes, in part, national pride and service. It is a non-profit organisation with clubs across Canada, and membership is open to all. Rogers formed the first club in Ontario after his return from service in World War I and his rejection by the local Rotary Club. At the time of the 1901 census, Rogers was just two years old and is listed with his family.
Adelaide Hoodless founded the Women’s Institute, an international women’s organisation, and was active in education reform, specifically in the domestic sciences. One area of particular personal interest to Hoodless was the education of new mothers. This passion was driven by the sudden death of her infant son in 1889 and the subsequent desire to empower women with the knowledge needed to prevent similar deaths from occurring in young children.
In the census, Adelaide is listed as being Irish and having been born in Ontario. She is listed with her husband and three living children.
Born in Ireland to Scottish Protestant parents, Timothy Eaton would go on to found Eaton’s department store. He immigrated to Ontario in the mid-1850s with some of his family. In 1869, Eaton’s was opened in Toronto; it would go on to become the largest department store retailer in Canada, with many locations across the country, and has remained one of the most important in Canadian history. Eaton’s pioneered two well-established practices of modern retail business: set prices with no haggling or credit given (which was the norm at the time) and money-back guarantees on purchases.
In the 1901 census, Eaton is listed with his wife, Margaret Wilson, and their son, John Craig. Under occupation, he is listed as being a merchant.
The heralded World War I flying ace Roy Brown is credited with shooting down the infamous Red Baron, who is considered to have some 80 air combat victories to his name. While it is likely that the Red Baron was actually shot down by ground fire, Brown’s accomplishments are no less impressive: he never lost a pilot during his combat flights, an almost unheard of feat for the First World War.
Norman Bethune Henry Norman Bethune was a well-known Canadian physician of Scottish descent. Bethune was openly anti-fascist and a supporter of Communism. He invented mobile blood transfusion while serving on the frontlines during the Spanish Civil War. He also is credited with brining modern medicine to rural China for the first time while he served in the Communist Eighth Route Army at the time of the Second Sino-Japanese War. His service during this time not only to soldiers but to villagers in China brought him to the attention of Mao Zedong, who famously penned a eulogy for Bethune upon his death in China. Additionally, several cities in China have erected statues to honour Bethune’s service to the people of China.
At the time of the census, Bethune was still a child living at home in Ontario. His childhood home has since been turned into the Bethune Memorial House.
The co-founder of insulin, Frederick Banting, was the first to use the new medication on human subjects. This invention won him and his colleague, John James Rickard Macleod, the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1923. Banting was just 32 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize, making him the youngest to ever do so in the field of Physiology or Medicine.
Alexander Graham Bell
Where would we be without Alexander Graham Bell’s inventive mind? The inventor of the telephone was born in Scotland and spent many years in Canada. The realities that faced his deaf mother and wife had an impact on Bell and his work. The research he did in the fields of hearing and speech ultimately led to his receiving the first U.S. patent for the telephone. More than laying the groundwork to our modern telephone, Bell made great strides in the fields of aeronautics, optical telecommunications, and hydrofoils, and is credited with creating the first metal detector.
Bell sailed to Canada on the SS Nestorian with his parents and sister-in-law in 1870 after his brother Melville died. Bell was then 23. The family eventually settled in Ontario.
In his later life, Bell built a new estate near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, which is the residence listed in the 1901 census. By this time, he was a naturalised citizen of the United States and would spend the last years of his life splitting his time between Washington D.C. and Nova Scotia.