by Ruth Griffiths
My father is listed in the 1916 census of the Prairie provinces. “Language spoken” is listed as English for his parents, but the box is blank for my father… he was only six months old at the time. It appears that the census taker did not assume that he would speak English!
I discovered this humorous fact while searching on-line for information with which to celebrate my father’s 100th birthday. Library and Archives Canada offers online data and tips for researching your family tree.
Canada will be conducting a nation-wide census in May. According to the government website: “The Census of Population provides demographic and statistical data that is used to plan public services such as health care, education, and transportation; determine federal transfer payments; and determine the number of Members of Parliament for each province and territory.”
People living in urban areas will receive a form that they must complete and mail in. People in rural areas will be visited by trained census takers. The number of Canadians who refuse to fill out their forms is normally very low. But anyone who won’t fill it out faces a fine of up to $500, or up to three months in jail.
Prince Albert is hoping to have a more accurate headcount this year. According to the 2016 census, the population of Prince Albert was 35,926, but e-health records showed 45,568 living in Prince Albert, a difference of more than 26 per cent.
The 2020-21 Municipal Revenue Sharing formula is $201.66 per capita. So if the city’s census numbers increased by 1,000 residents that would be approximately $200,000 more in funding to the City. If our census numbers increased by 10,000 residents to match the e-health data, the city would get $2 million more in revenue sharing. Count me in!
Besides helping us to plan and pay for services, census information is a rich source of information for genealogy research. Starting in 1851, most Canadian census records included the names of every resident, their country or province of birth, age and many other details.
The first census for the newly formed Dominion of Canada was taken in 1871 to help confirm parliamentary representation. In 1881 the census was expanded to include western Canada, including Saskatchewan. However, partial census records on the government website extend back to the 1600s.
I plan to participate in the census this year. I hope you will too.