Guide to Census Records

Getting Started

Census: an official enumeration of populations that can help you discover birth dates, the names of parents and siblings, immigration details and much more.

Searching the Library website 

 Suggested Titles:

    Additional material on Great Britain census handbooks

    Additional material on the American censuses

    Additional material for 1871 census of Ontario

Online Resources

 Canadian Census Records Online

Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada
Provides access to a set of detailed maps showing federal electoral boundaries. Most of the electoral districts described in this 1895 atlas are identical to the 1901 census districts. Detailed ward maps for cities are also available.

All  Canadian census returns from 1825 to 1921 have been digitized and are currently available on multiple websites as well as Ancestry Library Edition. Ancestry Library Edition can be used in any Toronto Public Library branch and has all Canadian censuses from 1851 to 1921. It also has Canada East/Lower Canada censuses for 1825 and 1842, though not 1831, nor the 1842 Canada West/Ontario census.

Below are websites that have census information. Note: some are indexes, some have images, some are only searchable geographically.

Library and Archives Canada: CensusesGives an overview of the complete (1825-1916) census collection with links to LAC census databases and finding aids. Searchable by names and with images. There is also digitized microfilm for the 1871 and 1916 censuses. Note: 1906 and 1916 censuses are of western Canada only.

Canadian Censuses on FamilySearch Includes provincial censuses prior to 1842, and censuses 1851-1916. The 1861 census is listed by individual province. Early censuses 1825-1842 have images. FamilySearch is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Automated Genealogy has indexed the 1852 (Ontario and Quebec and New Brunswick), 1901, 1906, and 1911 censuses. Select "split view" to view the original census page from Library and Archives Canada along with the transcriptions.

The Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) has the 1851/2 and 1881 census data.

Alberta Genealogical Society, Edmonton Branch has indexed the 1901 census for Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 Newfoundland (prior to entering Confederation in 1949)

Transcriptions for various years (Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data). Some are incomplete. Censuses for 1921, 1935, 1945 are also on microfilm in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library. Consult the finding aid in the branch or go online to LAC to search the place name index to determine which microfilm reels to consult.


US Census Records Online

1790-1940 US censuses (FamilySearch): Indexed and usually linked to images. Free.

Digitized microfilm of 1790-1930 US census on Internet Archive. For help in using the microfilm try Donslist Finding Guides

Note: 1890 US census largely destroyed by fire.


British and Irish Census Records Online

1841-1911 Census for England,Wales and Channel Islands (FamilySearch)
Indexed. Access to images is not available to home or library users

1901 Census of England, Scotland and Wales
Free to search, pay to view records

1911 census of England and Wales
Free to search, pay to view records


Scotlands People $$
Census records for 1841-1911. Free surname searches; pay to view records.

1841-1891 censuses, free on Family Search. No images.



Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1837
The tithe applotment books were compiled to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland (main Protestant church).  Names of occupiers of each townland - head of household only. Information is for rural areas, not towns.

Griffith's Valuation 1847 -1864
First full-scale valuation of property in Ireland.

Census of Ireland 1901/1911  and census fragments 1821-1851
Includes images.

Census fragments 1821-1851 (FamilySearch)
Includes images.


In Library Resources

The Toronto Reference Library's Humanities and Social Sciences Department has all the available Canadian census records on microfilm. To identify which microfilm reel to search, consult the Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm 1666-1901. The department also houses many CD-ROMs and materials for U.S., and British and Irish census resources, as well as early Quebec censuses (1660s) and the 1681 census of New France.

Ancestry Library Edition can be used on any computer in a Toronto Public Library branch, but is not available from home.  It allows individual name searches, often with original images to: Canadian censuses 1825-1921 [except 1831 for Lower Canada and the 1842 census for Canada West, i.e.,Ontario]; UK Census Collection for 1841-1911; American Census Records 1790-1940 and some European census records.

Genealogie Quebec  (available at North York Central and Toronto Reference Library)
French Canadian genealogy resource includes census information for Quebec and Ontario in 1881 and for Quebec in 1901.  


Additional Library Collections

The Ontario Genealogical Society Deposit Collection at the Toronto Reference Library, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, has an excellent collection of materials on British, American and Canadian censuses.


Toronto Public Library contacts:

Answerline, 416-393-7131
[email protected]

Toronto Reference Library, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, 416-393-7175