Find your ancestors in Canada census 1861

What can these records tell me?

Each result in this collection will provide you with a transcript and image of the original census form. From the transcripts, you may learn the following details:

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Birth year
  • Birth place
  • Marital status
  • Religion
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Subdistrict
  • District
  • Province

Images, hosted at the Library and Archives Canada, will often be able to provide additional details. Since census enumerators often used abbreviations, you may find the following useful.

Marital status

  • Married (M)
  • Single (S)
  • Widow (W)
  • Widower (Wr)


  • Bible Christian (B.C.)
  • Church of England (C. (of) E.)
  • Church of Scotland (C. (of) S.)
  • Episcopal Methodist Church (E.M.C.)
  • Free Church—Presbyterian (F.C.)
  • Methodist Episcopal Church (M.E.C.)
  • Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces (P.C.L.P.)
  • Presbyterian Free Church (P.F.C.)
  • Roman Catholic (R.C.)
  • Reformed Presbyterian (R.P.)
  • United Presbyterian (U.P.)
  • Wesleyan Methodist (W.M.)


  • Canada East (C.E.)
  • Canada West (C.W.)
  • Lower Canada (L.C.)
  • Upper Canada (U.P.)

See the following sections to learn more about the 1861 census and deciphering the images.

Discover more about these records

Following the Act of Union in 1841, the Province of Canada was formed. It consisted of Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec). The 1861 census also collected population details for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

The 1861 census began on different dates depending on location:

  • For Canada East and Canada West, 14 January 1861
  • For Nova Scotia, 30 March 1861
  • For New Brunswick, 15 August 1861
  • For Prince Edward Island, it is not known

From the five areas included, information was gathered from the following numbers of individuals:

  • Canada East – 1,110,664
  • Canada West – 1,396,091
  • New Brunswick – 193,800
  • Nova Scotia – 330,857
  • Prince Edward Island – 80,857

Unfortunately, the original paper records of this census were destroyed in 1955 following the microfilming done by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. The process and quality of the microfilming was not consistent and has resulted in some images being of poor quality.

The additional sections located on the search screen will provide breakdowns of column headings by province found on the images from the 1861 census.