The 1931 Canadian Census Is Coming

In case you haven’t heard, on June 1, 2023, Library and Archives Canada will release the 1931 Canadian Census to the public. That’s just three short weeks away. This will be an exciting day for genealogists whose families lived in Canada.

The 1931 Canadian Census was taken on June 1, 1931. This was the seventh comprehensive decennial census since Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867. The total population of Canada in 1931 was 10,376,379 people, an increase of 1,587,896 people since the last census count in 1921. There was a census in 1926, but this was a special census conducted by the Canadian government to capture the expanding northwest provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

As per the Canada Statistics Act, the legislation does not allow the release of personal information until 92 years have elapsed.

What Does All This Mean?

You might be thinking, “What does that mean?” It means the census images will be released to the public, and you can search them. But there won’t be any indexes yet, so you’ll be able to look at images but won’t be able to look up a name. That’s where the partnership with Ancestry and FamilySearch comes in.

Ancestry and FamilySearch will receive the census on the same day, and they will begin the process of using AI handwriting technology to transcribe all of the names and other information recorded in the census and have them available for use in an accurate and timely matter.

Ancestry and FamilySearch have experience using this AI handwriting technology as it was used on the 1951 US Census last year. In just 9 days, Ancestry indexed the 150,697,361 people living in the US in 1951. If I do some simple math, that equates to 16,744,151 people being indexed per day. So could it mean that we could have the 1931 Canada Census in 1 day? I hope so.. but even if it took a few more days, I’d be ecstatic.

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I’ve always been a glass-half-full person. Once they are complete they will be available on Ancestry for FREE and you’ll also be able to search on Census Search.

What Will We Learn?

If you’d like to look at the 1931 Canada Census, you can find a blank form HERE.

There are 40 fields of personal information in the 1931 census, including five new questions. This included questions about unemployment and radio ownership. The reason for the unemployment questions was that in 1931, Canada was in the early years of the Great Depression, which had begun in 1929, so questions were asked to learn the severity of unemployment.

For a complete list of questions, I suggest you check out Dave Obee’s site CanGenealogy, where he has the 40 questions listed HERE.

How Can You Prepare?

For me, the first thing I’ll be looking at is who will be in this census in my family? By this time, seven of my known great-grandparents and their families had arrived in Canada before the 1921 census. In fact, my mom’s parents would be married in 1931, but my dad’s parents wouldn’t get married for two more years. For me, it’s a reasonably simple task to look at each family unit and see who should be in this census.

I’m not going to search the images before they are indexed, but if I were, I’d also want to do some sleuthing as to where they most likely lived. That can be tricky if you have family moving around looking for work because of the economy.

If you have a tree on Ancestry, I suggest you use a tip I learned from one of the videos that Crista Cowan did for the 1951 US Census. She suggested creating a custom tag for those you want to research. Then all you have to do is search your tree and use the filter for that tag.

If you use software on your computer to store your genealogy, I suggest seeing what reports you can create to create your list. I use Family Tree Maker, and I think I will create or publish a “relationship report” for the critical families I will research. This will provide the basis for the spreadsheet I will likely make and the people I’m going to add that custom tag to.

Have a look at The Family Tree Knots blog post, as I know they have listed instructions for some of the other software programs. You can find a link to their blog below.

The Clock Is Ticking

So the countdown continues, and those three weeks will be gone in no time. So I’d suggest that you start right away and do the organization you need to do, and then when those images are available or if you choose to wait for the indexes (shall we wager on how long it will take?), you’ll be ready to see what your family was up to on June 1, 1931.

What to Read More Background About The Census?

Why we are excited about the 1931 Census – Library and Archives Canada Blog

Preparing for the 1931 Census – Library and Archives Canada

History of Census of Canada – Statistics Canada

1931 census introduction – CanGen Genealogy

1931 Census of Canada – Are You Ready? – Family Tree Knots Blog

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