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Article posted: March, 1998



Getting The Best Use Out Of The Canadian Maritime (& Newfoundland) Census
By: Contributed by Lark Blackburn


When working on a family from Atlantic Canada, make sure that you get the 1871 census for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland.

I had someone say I went to New York and got the 1871 census and couldn’t find my family there. No Wonder !!!

The 1871 censuses list each member of the household Name, Age, Occupation, Religious affiliation, Birthplace (country or prov.) So if you found your gr. grandfather in the 1871 census, now you know where he lived and how many children he had, his wife’s first name and his age. Example: ..... Don Macintosh, m. Mary _____, Donald is 30 years old in the 1871 census, and has 8 children, his occ. was listed; fisherman, farmer.

What Next?

Check if there were others of the same family name. If so list them also and their children and occupation. They might not be of the same religion, but 10 to 1 they are related.

Go to the previous census, 1861, and see if this same family was in the area. With the list of others of the same name, copy all the info. By this time Don should be listed as 20 years old.

It is not always the case, he might be listed as 45 or 53 years old. Depends who took the census, and what kind of impression Don wanted to make on the census taker. Also there might have been another Donald in the same area at the time born the same year. You will also find, while doing genealogy on Atlantic Canada , the common use of a name.

The father John had 8 sons, I can say at least 6 of these sons called one of their children after the Grandfather John, making another 6 Johns on the list born all around the same time. Now check out the 1881 census list for each person- Father's origin or ethnic background. By this time maybe that same Don had other children and his wife’s name is not the same. This might state that his first wife died between 1871 and 1881 and he remarried. Next do the 1891 census, this tells where each parent was born Ex...... father b. in N.S mother b. in Nfld. The 1891 census, in addition, asks for parents' birthplaces. Also for the person's relationship to the head of household. Here we find if this Joe was a son or grandson or maybe just a worker on the farm etc...... Now the Best is the 1901 Census. It gives the exact date of birth of each person listed Day , Month, Year. And in which year they came to the Canada. We know from 1871 CENSUS that Don is of Scottish descent, if his father is still alive and listed on the 1901 census we might find John Macintosh b. 1821 in Scot . and came to Canada in 1828.

Now we know this family was here as early as 1828, that means John was 7 years old coming to Canada. That states, more than likely, he came with his parents, and Don’s grand parents are buried in Canada. They are probably buried in the same area as Don is presently living or not too far from the area. Now you can start looking for info on their family.

Take advantage of all the census info out there for the area and don’t stop at one or go backwards only, use the info from the later census concerning the family. Copies of these censuses can be had on microfilm at most Univ. Libraries, at LDS. centers and most historical societies.

The national government of Canada has taken censuses every ten years since 1851 to 1901. For NS there is a census for 1811, 1818 , 1827, 1838 Newfoundland Census - Newfoundland and Labrador Census Info Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949, and no 19th- century personal census schedules have been found, only statistical summaries. Prior to 1711 Early English, In July 1675, Sir John Berry, Convoy Commander of the English fleet arrived in St. John's. His chief duty was to conduct a census of the settlers names with account of their concerns. This task required he travel to all the communities from Cape Bonavista in the north, to Cape Race at the southern extremity.

In all, approximately 30 harbors along the English Shore were tallied. The total population ... 1700 souls. This census, known as Berry's List, was the first to be conducted in Newfoundland. He carried out subsequent censuses in 1677, 1681, 1684, 1698 (heads of household only ) and 1708.

The French fished the waters of northeast, west and southern Nfld., their settlement was concentrated along the south, particularly the Burin Peninsula, the islands of Placenta Bay, and the southwestern Avalon. Plaisance (Placentia) first became settled in 1662. By 1687, 1000 people, comprising 40 French families populated about 15 settlements. These settlements included Pointe Verde, Petite Plaisance, Petit Paradis, Audierne, Mortier, Burin, Petit and Grand St-Laurent, Miquelon, Ile Saint- Piere, Grand Bank, Fortune, Cape Negre, Colinet, and St-Marie. The largest community was Plaisance and by 1698 still had only 29 families. The French also conducted censuses in these early years ...

1671, 1673, 1686, 1706, and 1711
Given the small population of the island at this time, it should be noted that few present day Nfld.ers, or their descendants, English or French, can trace their ancestry to the 17th century occupants of the Island. These early settlements were characterized by a predominance of males, and all who stayed over for the winter expected to return home or to move elsewhere.

1712 - 1835
Population counts before 1835 were ordered by the Colonial Office in London and usually conducted by the fishing admiral of the port. These censuses varied in content but often included other data relating to fishing vessels and fish caught. Here are the years and population counts for censuses conducted during this period. The relatively large population increases for some census years over previous ones indicate periods of significant immigration.

1836-1949
The first official census was conducted in 1836 following the passing of an act in the Newfoundland Legislative Assembly that called for Censuses to be every ten years on the first Monday in May Along with the names and addresses of individuals, the censuses would also include land under cultivation, the number of houses, as well as the number of cattle, sheep & hogs.


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