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Article Published July 20, 2002

Gordon A. Watts POST-1901 CENSUS NEWS (Canada)
By: Gordon A. Watts,

Greetings Readers, and Members of Parliament

Response to Globe & Mail Article (Toronto, July 17, 2002)

Gordon Watts is on a much deserved vacation this week. However supporters of the grassroots campaign to gain access to historical census records will be interested in the following email that Gordon sent to the Globe and Mail newspaper before he left. The email is in response to an article that appeared in the Globe & Mail on July 17, 2002. The Globe & Mail is Canada's oldest and largest national newspaper.
    From: Gordon A. Watts
    Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2002 2:28 PM
    Subject: Re: Census allows a peek at our future.

    Globe and Mail.

    Margaret Wente's article, "Census allows a peek at our future" (G&M 17 July 2002) asks the question "How many grandchildren are you going to have?"

    While today's Census may allow a non-identifying peek at our statistical future, if Ivan P. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada, has his way, millions of Canadians and others from around the world will never again be allowed to use Canada's Historic Census records to seek information about their ancestors. Nor will our grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren be able to use these invaluable records to find out about us.

    235 years of Census records, from the first census of New France, up to and including those for the 1901 National Census of Canada, currently reside in the National Archives of Canada and are available for research by any person or body. The Privacy Act and Regulations attached thereto specifically permit the original schedules of Census to be made available 92 years after collection.

    Dr. Fellegi has refused to allow Post-1901 records to be transferred to the control of the National Archivist for eventual release to the public. In this refusal he is in contravention of the National Archives of Canada Act, the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act and the Statistics Act. After five years and more than 50,000 signatures sent to the government, MPs and Senators, we have finally applied to the Federal Courts to seek a Writ of Mandamus that would force Statistics Canada to release the 1906 Census of the Western Provinces. They should have been available in 1998.

    We seek to regain the same public access to Census records after 1901 that we have had for those records up to then. We have gone through two governments, and three Ministers of Industry (responsible for Statistics Canada). A Report of an Expert Panel appointed in 1999 and a series of Town Hall meetings held this past December and January, all support allowing public access to Census records 92 years after collection.

    How much longer must we wait? And how many more surveys must be endured before Statistics Canada will finally allow the access to Historic Census records that we seek, and that at least three applicable statutes state that we are entitled to?

    For more information you are invited to view the Post-1901 Census Project website at:

    or contact the writer at

    Thank you.

    Gordon A. Watts
    Co-Chair, Canada Census Committee
    1455 Delia Drive
    Port Coquitlam, BC
    V3C 2V9

    Tel (604) 942-6889
    Fax (604) 942-6843
    en français

  • Global Gazette articles regarding Census Project

  • Click here for official Census Project Web site

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