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The Census: Getting Started

Census Reference Materials

Searching for Historical Censuses

Historical Census Data

Historical census data is available to the TRU community through the Data Liberation Initiative (DLI). The easiest way to access DLI materials at TRU is through Odesi. The data formats available vary by census year; the rest of this guide provides insight into other ways the Canadian census has changed since its inception. If you have questions about accessing historical censuses or DLI materials, please contact Amy McLay Paterson (


How to Find Census Data by Census Tract

Statistics Canada

Census provides a statistical portrait of the country every five years and is designed to provide information about people and housing units in Canada by their demographic, social and economic characteristics.

Statistics Canada slices the country up into various pieces and those pieces of information have a hierarchy.

Census Metropolitan Area (CMA): have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in the core.

Census Agglomeration (CA): A census agglomeration must have a core population of at least 10,000.

Census SubDivision (CSD): Census subdivision (CSD) is the general term for municipalities or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes

Census tracts (CT): are small, relatively stable geographic areas that usually have a population between 2,500 and 8,000 persons. They are located in census metropolitan areas and in census agglomerations that have a core population of 50,000 or more.

Dissemination Area (DA): Small area composed of one or more neighbouring dissemination blocks, with a population of 400 to 700 persons. All of Canada is divided into dissemination areas.

Dissemination Block (DB): Area equivalent to a city block bounded by intersecting streets. These areas cover all of Canada.

Census Tracts - How to find and use

Each census tract is assigned a seven-character numeric 'name' (including leading zeros, the decimal point and trailing zeros).

To uniquely identify each census tract in its corresponding census metropolitan area (CMA) or tracted census agglomeration (CA), the three-digit CMA/CA code must precede the CT 'name.'

Example: 9250014.00  the 925 represents the CMA or CA and the 00014.00 represents the tract

Once you have your tract numbers, use them in the following tools:

Kamloops & Region

Census Tables for Kamloops and Region

The data tables below are formatted in as Comma Separated Values (.csv) files, which can be imported into Excel, text editors, and various other statistical analysis software.

About the Census in Kamloops and Surrounding Areas

One problem with using the census to find information is that the availability of information is often dependent on the population of the place, and this variable changes over time. Geographic boundaries are not constant due to population change and changing political boundaries. Additionally, the questions being asked frequently change (old ones dropped, new ones added) and evolve (ex/ marital status, religion, origin, etc.) to more accurately reflect the characteristics of the population.

The changes in census boundaries have been particularly problematic in the case of Kamloops which has not only grown by natural population increase but also by amalgamation with its surrounding communities. The statistics in this document are given at the most detailed geographic level that is available. The earlier censuses did not record data for the village of Kamloops; it was incorporated into the broader geographic categories of district or subdistrict. From 1870-1901 census statistics will be provided for the district or subdistrict containing Kamloops – whichever is more detailed. After 1901, census statistics will be provided for both the city and the region that contains it.

Census data up to 1870 

The 1870/71 Census of Canada contains the first mention of Kamloops in a census document. This occurs in a table (1871, V. 4, p. lxxviii) containing information submitted by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1856 the Hudson's Bay Company attempted to determine the population of the trading country covered by their forts. Their estimate of the population of the British Columbia Territorial Division was 33,586 – 23,000 Aboriginals and 10,586 other. All the results of their survey were published in a memorandum presented to the Special Committee of the House of Commons and this report has been reproduced in Volume 4 of the 1870/71 Census. The portion of the table specifying Kamloops has been reproduced below. Establishments of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1856, and the Number of "Indians" frequenting them:

Post Department District Number of Indians Frequenting it
Kamloops Western Thompson's River 2000
Fort Hope Western Thompson's River


The 1870/71 Census was the first census done after Confederation and the formation of the Dominion of Canada; it enumerated the four provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. It did not include British Columbia because British Columbia joined Canada as a province in 1871; however, Volume 4 of the 1870/71 Canada Census contains the summaries of all the censuses done in New France and British North America from 1665 to 1871, including the 1870 Census of British Columbia. This was the only census done in the colony of British Columbia prior to the colony joining Canada. In fact, the two colonies of Vancouver Island (established in 1849) and British Columbia (established in 1858) were only joined into one in 1866.  The 1870 Census of British Columbia divided the colony into 18 districts and recorded a total population of 10,580 (1871, V. 4, p. 376).The Aboriginal population of the colony at that time was estimated to be between 25,000 and 50,000 (1871, V. 4, p. 377).This census did not record population figures for areas smaller than a district and therefore there are no specific numbers available for the Kamloops area. The Kamloops area was included in the Yale district and the 1870 Census of British Columbia did record statistics (population, gender, race, employment, births, marriages) for the combined districts of Hope, Yale and Lytton. In 1870 the total non-aboriginal population of the Hope, Yale and Lytton districts was 1,067 (1871, V. 4, p. 376).   

Census data 1880 - 1881

The 1880-1881 Census of Canada added British Columbia, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island to the original four. The country was divided into 192 census districts and 2,139 census subdistricts. Census districts usually corresponded to electoral districts and the census subdistricts to parochial, civil or political subdivisions. In the 1880-81 Census, British Columbia was divided into 5 districts and 26 subdistricts. By this time the total population of the province had increased to 49,459. District 189 Yale ((124,276 sq. km) had a total population of 9200 which had increased from 1316 in 1871 – the 1871 population was adjusted to reflect the new 1881 census boundaries. District 189 Yale was subdivided into the following subdistricts:

Subdistrict Population
Subdistrict A 2,296
Subdistrict B 4,725
Subdistrict C 1,199
Subdistrict D 117
Subdistrict E 86

Source: 1881 Census of Canada, Volume 1, Table 1, p. 94

According to the index at the end of Volume 1 of the 1880-81 Census, Kamloops was contained in District 189 Yale, Subdistrict B Lytton, Cache Creek & c. The 1881 Census index map shows that Subdistrict B included the area along the Thompson River from Lytton to Shuswap Lake and Kamloops would have been located within the B3 area. Subdistricts were sometimes further divided into two or more smaller areas that coincided with the area that one enumerator would cover. This was done in subdistricts that had a large territorial extent, a comparatively higher population density, and presented travel difficulties. Unfortunately, in the 1880-81 Census, statistics for areas smaller than the subdistrict level are only available for cities and towns with a population greater than 5,000. Therefore, the statistics for the Kamloops area would be contained in the broader statistics (population, area, dwellings, families, gender, marital status, religion, origin, birth places, occupiers of land, lands occupied) of Subdistrict B Lytton, Cache Creek & c. However, it is possible to determine the population of the Kamloops native community from the 1881 Census Schedule 1 Nominal Return of the Living, (HA 741.5 .B74 1881 in MIC) because Native villages were recorded as sublocations. This method gives an estimate of 280 for the population of the Kamloops Native community, and therefore the total population for the Kamloops area would have been higher than this number.

Census data 1891

The 1891 Census divided British Columbia into 5 districts and 49 subdistricts. The population of British Columbia had increased to 98,173, and the population of the Yale District was 13,661. In this census, there is a Subdistrict E Kamloops in Yale District 5 – its population is 1,517 (928 males and 589 females) (1891, V. 1, Table 2, p. 8). Although no reference map for 1891 is available, Subdistrict E probably covered the region from Kamloops Lake to Shuswap Lake; this would roughly correspond to the 1881 B3 area. This would follow the general pattern that has been observed over the censuses since 1871 of a gradual reduction in the size of the subdistricts due to the corresponding rise in population. In 1893 Kamloops was incorporated as a city (1931, V. 1, p. 193-194). According to the City of Kamloops Annual Reports, the population of the city at incorporation was approximately 500. This statistic probably only included the people living within the actual city limits of Kamloops and not the rural area around it. It would also not have included the Native reserve, or the people living on the north side of the Thompson River, as the city of Kamloops was located on the south shore of the river. The first bridge to the North Kamloops area was built in 1901.  

Census data 1901

In the 1901 Census, the Yale and Cariboo districts were combined into one district with 12 subdistricts. Kamloops was located within Subdistrict K Yale, North. This is the first census which actually recorded a specific population figure for the city of Kamloops: 1,594 people (1901, V. 3, Table XXI, p. 331); probably because this was the first census taken after the incorporation of Kamloops. This census also collected some business statistics for the city. In 1905 the census office became a permanent part of the government. Also in that year, Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces. In 1906, the three prairie provinces began to take a separate census of agriculture every five years to monitor the growth of the West. This was necessary due to the rapid expansion in Western Canada. In fact, the taking of a separate quinquennial (mid-decade) census of agriculture had begun in Manitoba in 1896.  

Census data 1911

Company A of the Royal Mounted Rifles at KamloopsIn the 1911 Census the Yale & Cariboo District was divided into 16 subdistricts which included Kamloops and Kamloops c. Kamloops was the rural region around the city and Kamloops c was the actual city. To put it into perspective, the size of the Kamloops subdistrict was 10,384.33 sq. mi. and the size of Kamloops c subdistrict was 1.19 sq. mi. The population of the city of Kamloops was 3,772.

Seven years later, in 1918, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics was created.


Census data 1921

In the 1921 Census, the Yale & Cariboo District was separated into two: the Yale District and the Cariboo District. The Kamloops c and Kamloops subdistricts now fell into the Cariboo District. The other cities in the Cariboo District included Prince George, Merritt and Salmon Arm. In this particular census all the Indian reserves in a district were entered as one subdistrict. The population of the city of Kamloops was 4,501.  

Census data 1931

1931 was the Depression census, and a new question on unemployment was added. British Columbia's census boundaries had again changed, and the terms census district and subdistrict were replaced by the modern census division and subdivision. Census divisions were established for British Columbia (1931) and the other Western provinces (1921) because they did not have the political units of counties that were present in Eastern Canada. The old census geographic system for British Columbia had been based on electoral districts, but these were subject to change after each census. To make it possible to compare data from one census to another for areas smaller than a province, this new system of more fixed boundaries was adopted. The city of Kamloops was now in Census Division 6, Subdivision C Nicola along with Merritt; the other city in this division was Salmon Arm which was included in the Shuswap Subdivision. Within a subdivision there were 3 categories: municipalities (cities, villages, towns, etc.), Indian reserves and unorganized parts (rural areas); these categories combined to form the entire subdivision. This was a change from previous censuses where the subdistricts (municipalities, Indian reserves, and unorganized areas) were all separate and only combined to form the district. In addition to Nicola, Census Division 6 included the North Thompson, Shuswap, South Chilcotin, Lillooet East, and Bridge Lillooet subdivisions. The city of Kamloops had a population of 6,167 and was ranked 112th in Canada by population size. The unemployment rate was 37% in Kamloops. This census also included an institutional survey and did record information for Royal Inland Hospital.  

Census data 1941

1941 was the war census. The Depression had taken its toll on Canadians socially and economically; the number of immigrants and marriages had fallen. Development and growth had slowed in the city of Kamloops during the Depression and the beginning of World War II. In fact, the population in the city of Kamloops dropped to 5,959 by 1941 – Kamloops was ranked 129th in Canada by population size. The average house price in the city was $2821 and the average annual earnings for wage-earner families was $1033. Kamloops city was still in Census Division 6 Subdivision C Nicola. A map of the B.C. census divisions and subdivisions can be found on p. 974 of Volume 1 of the 1941 Census of Canada. This census recorded substantially more information (area, population, origin, religion, dwellings, tenure, households, families, earnings, wage earners, employment status, occupations, retail trade, wholesale trade and retail services) for Kamloops City.  

Census data 1951

The 1951 Census included Newfoundland for the first time following its union with Canada in 1949. It also recorded war service in the two World Wars. The geographic entity of Census Tract (CT) for larger cities made its first appearance. A CT usually corresponded to a neighbourhood (population 2000-3000). The 1951 Census was the first time that unincorporated places appeared, and both their 1941 and 1951 population estimates were recorded. For the Kamloops area, there was now population information for Barnhartvale, Brocklehurst, Powers Addition, Halston, Knutsford, Mission Flats, Victoria West, and Westsyde. The village of North Kamloops also appeared for the first time after its incorporation in 1946. Kamloops was still in Census Division 6 Subdivision C Nicola. The population of Kamloops in 1951 was 8,099 – a 30% increase from 1941. Kamloops was ranked 134th in Canada by population size.  

Census data 1956

The 1956 Census was the first national quinquennial (mid-decade) census. Rapid economic and population growth had made it necessary to increase the frequency of census taking. The Census of Agriculture was extended to the whole country and was conducted concurrently with the Census of Population. The quinquennial census was not as detailed as the decennial census in order to reduce costs. By 1956, the population of Kamloops and North Kamloops had increased to 9,096 and 4,398 respectively. The dramatic population growth in the village of North Kamloops is not due to natural growth or in-migration; rather the growth is the result of municipal boundary changes to the village of North Kamloops in 1956; in fact, the municipal boundaries for Kamloops city were also changed in 1953.  

Census data 1961

Downtown Kamloops, 1961The 1961 Census introduced a new question on the level of education of household members. A lot of the census results were cross-tabulated with gender. The municipal boundaries of both Kamloops (1959) and North Kamloops (1960) were again modified prior to the 1961 Census. This census also brought a tremendous increase in the data available for Kamloops because the city had surpassed the important 10,000 population threshold figure. Kamloops had a population of 10,076 and was ranked 172nd in the country by population size. This census also recorded the population of unincorporated places with 50 or more persons for 1956 and 1961.

The one important area that was missed in the unincorporated list was Brocklehurst. It definitely shows on the maps of the time as an unincorporated area. One possible explanation is contained in the following statement “When an unincorporated place straddles the boundary between two municipalities, this place has been allocated to the municipality where the largest part of its population is located.” Using this explanation it is possible that the population of Brocklehurst may have been included with North Kamloops.

The modern Trans Canada Highway was opened in 1962. Kamloops Pulp and Paper was established in 1964.


Census data 1966

The 1966 Census was the second quinquennial census of population done. As in 1951, the census was not as detailed as the decennial census to reduce costs. Kamloops and North Kamloops were still in Census Division 6 Subdivision C Nicola. In 1966, the population of Kamloops was 10,759, and the population of North Kamloops was 11,319. This dramatic growth in the population of North Kamloops was definitely not all due to natural growth or in-migration; North Kamloops annexed some territory in 1966 from the unorganized part of Subdivision C to increase in size from 1.75 sq. mi. to 5.89 sq. mi. Also, North Kamloops was classified as a town in 1966 rather than a village. This census also recorded the population for unincorporated places of 50 persons and over. In 1966, North Kamloops Town annexed parts of Subdivision B, and in 1967, North Kamloops amalgamated with Kamloops to form one city. By the end of 1968, all of the province had been divided into 28 duly incorporated Regional Districts. These Regional Districts had been created by an amendment to the Municipal Act in 1965. These new geographic entities were very similar to counties and included both incorporated and unincorporated areas. Kamloops was in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District which had been incorporated on November 24, 1967. Logan Lake village was incorporated in 1970 (from Subdivision B). Valleyview, which had been incorporated as a village in 1969, became a town in 1971 (from Subdivision E). Also in 1971, Dufferin became incorporated as a district municipality. Kamloops city annexed some territory from Subdivision B in January 1971.  

Census data 1971

The geographic divisions in British Columbia were redone for the 1971 Census. The 10 census divisions which had been established in 1931 were now replaced by 28 Regional Districts created by the provincial government. In 1971 Kamloops became a census agglomeration. A census agglomeration (CA) is an area that covers the urbanized core, the surrounding fringe area (urban and rural parts) and the Indian Reserves contained in the CA. The Kamloops CA included Kamloops City, Brocklehurst, Westsyde, Valleyview Town, Dufferin District Municipality, Skeechestn Indian Reserve and a large rural part of Subdivision B. It did not include the Kamloops Indian Reserve, Dallas, Barnhartvale, Knutsford, Rayleigh or Heffley Creek. Provincial census tracts – smaller geographic areas - appeared for the first time; however these were more useful for the rural rather than the urban areas.

History of the Census


History of the Census

The Canadian census has a long history. The first census was conducted in New France in 1666 by Jean Talon and many more were conducted in New France and British North America until Confederation in 1871. From that time forward, the legal purpose of the census was to determine representation in government and redistribute the seats every 10 years as population change warranted it. Census information is used for other important purposes such as the assignment of provincial transfer payments and the study of housing, health, education, and transportation needs.

The most important purpose of the Canadian census, however, is to provide by enumeration a snapshot of Canadian society. This data, when analyzed over time against the background of history and environment, provides an understanding of the evolution of Canadians and Canada.

Census Methodology: De jure vs. de facto

To properly interpret the Canadian census it is important to know that it is conducted using the de jure rather than the de facto principle. The de facto method is easier because it just assigns an individual to the locality where they are found on the census date. Under the de jure method an individual is enumerated as belonging to the locality that they normally reside in, even if on the census date they are elsewhere – visiting, non-resident students, patients in a hospital, armed forces, etc. The de jure method requires a lot more tracking of individuals; however, since the main reason for the census is for parliamentary representation, the use of the de jure method is necessary in Canada given its great geographical size and relatively small spread-out population.

Census timeline


1666: Preconfederate Canada's first census, conducted in New France by Jean Talon
1840's:  Repeated unsuccessful attempts to conduct censuses in Canada West and Canada East
1851-2: Census of Upper and Lower Canada conducted
1861: Census of Upper and Lower Canada conducted

The first national censuses

1871: Canada's first national census following the Constitution Act, 1867, which mandated a decennial census
1881: Census takers were required to take an oath of secrecy; census extended to include B.C., Manitoba and P.E.I.
1891: For the first time, newspapers and churches advertised the upcoming census across Canada
1901: New questions on religion, birthplace, citizenship and immigration added to the census.  Canada's population reached 5,371,051

Special censuses of the prairie provinces begin

1906: First special census of the prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) conducted to track high population growth in western Canada
1911: Fifth decennial national census in Canada
1916: Second census of the prairie provinces

Interwar period

1921: Mechanical tabulation used for the first time to compile census results in Canada
1926: Third census of the prairie provinces
1931: New census questions regarding unemployment added to the national census
1936: Fourth census of the prairie provinces
1941: New questions on fertility and housing introduced; first use of sampling to collect additional information about dwellings


1946: Fifth census of the prairie provinces
1951: Newfoundland included in the national census for the first time

Quinquennial census begins

1956: The first national quinquennial (mid-decade) census introduced to measure rapid population and economic growth.  Census of Agriculture and Census of Population taken every five years thereafter.  First use of television to publicize the census in Canada.
1961: New census question about education level; 20% sample of households were asked additional question about internal migration, fertility, and income
1966: Second mid-decade national census
1971: Self-enumeration and long/short forms replaced the interview method of enumeration; Dominion Bureau of Statistics now called Statistics Canada
1976: Third mid-decade national census; meaning of household "head" changed to mean either the husband OR the wife (instead of just husband)
1981: "Head" of household reference was eliminated
1986: Repeated most of the questions from the "full" census of 1981, unlike previous mid-decade "mini" censuses
1991: Question about "common-law" relationships included for the first time
1996: Census was translated into 49 non-official languages, including 12 aboriginal languages

21st century censuses

2001: Provided data on opposite and same sex common-law couples, with and without children living at home
2006: First online census questionnaire
2011: Mandatory long-form census questionnaire replaced by the voluntary National Household Survey




Curtis, B.  (2001).  The politics of population: State formation, statistics, and the census of Canada, 1840-1875.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Jean Talon. (n.d.). In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Library and Archives Canada.  (2008).  Discover the collection: Censuses.  Retrieved from​  

Statistics Canada.  (2005).  History of the census in Canada.  Retrieved from

Statistics Canada.  (2011).  National Household Survey.  Retrieved from  

Worton, D. A.  (1998).  The Dominion Bureau of Statistics: A history of Canada's central statistical office and its antecedents, 1841-1972. 
           Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Information about the Long-form Census Debate

On June 26, 2010, Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, announced that the new, voluntary National Household Survey would replace the mandatory long-form census questionnaire in Canada. The government's decision fueled a heated debate between those who viewed the previously mandatory long-form questionnaire as an invasion of privacy, and those who saw it as an important source of information essential to to public policy, research and business. The mandatory long-form census was restored by the Trudeau government in advance of the 2016 census, and participation levels reached a record high of 99%.

Data quality notes: differences between the NHS and the census

The NHS was a voluntary survey that took the place of the long-form census in 2011 exclusively; despite the fact that the questions were similar to those that would have been asked if the traditional long-form census questionnaire had been used, the methodological differences between the NHS and the census make comparing the data collected by both problematic:

The content of the NHS is similar to that of the 2006 Census long questionnaire. However, a number of changes were made to some questions and sections of the questionnaire. For example, the NHS measures a new component of income (capital gains or losses) and child care and support expenses; the questions used to measure Aboriginal identity were altered slightly; and the universe for determining generational status was expanded to include the entire population, not just the population aged 15 and over. In addition, the unpaid work section was not asked in the 2011 NHS.

Any significant change in survey method or content can affect the comparability of the data over time, and that applies to the NHS as well. It is impossible to determine with certainty whether, and to what extent, differences in a variable are attributable to an actual change or to non-response bias. Consequently, at every stage of processing, verification and dissemination, considerable effort was made to produce data that are as precise in their level of detail, and to ensure that the NHS's published estimates are of good quality in keeping with Statistics Canada standards.

Caution must be exercised when NHS estimates are compared with counts produced from the 2006 Census long form, especially when the analysis involves small geographies. Users are asked to use the NHS's main quality indicator, the global non-response rate (see Section 6.3), in assessing the quality of the NHS estimates and determining the extent to which the estimates can be compared with the counts from the 2006 Census long form. Users are also asked to read any quality notes that may be included in dissemination products. ("Chapter 5 -- Data quality assessment and indicators", NHS User Guide)

Some Further Reading

Here are some TRU library books about the Census in Canada.  Please note: E-Books are restricted to current TRU students, staff and faculty

Indigenous Statistics and Data

Sources of Statistics and Data

In Canada, the collection of data pertaining to Aboriginal Peoples pre-dates Confederation, and over time, the language used to describe Aboriginal peoples has shifted, including at various points in time: Indian, Native, Aboriginal and First Nations.  These changes are bound up in broader social, political, and historical contexts, and are connected to how the state has defined and counted "Aboriginal persons" in past and present times.

Geography & Geospatial Tools & Data

Statistics Canada Products

Geographical Data & Reference Products