Nova Scotia Archives

Built Heritage Resource Guide

Nova Scotia Census Records

Census-taking in Nova Scotia can be divided into three broad periods: the French Regime in Acadia (1671-1753), the British colonial government of Nova Scotia (1752-1861) and the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Canada (1871-1911). In the early days, the enumerator didn't come to the door very often. The surviving records are consequently few and far between, and very incomplete.

Beginning in 1851, an enumeration of the population was carried out every ten years — although it was only with the first dominion census of 1871 and thereafter that the completeness and accuracy of the information collected became consistent and comparatively reliable. Between 1871 and 1911, census returns yield remarkable information regarding homes and their occupants; the returns from 1921 and onward have not yet been released to the public.

The enumerations of 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 list everyone in the household. Those for 1881, 1891 and 1901 also note houses under construction. The 1901 Census is unique, because it gives the exact date-of-birth for everyone enumerated, as well as their age at the time of enumeration, their income if employed, and the name of the community in which they resided.

The returns for 1891, 1901 and 1911 asked the relationship of each resident to the male head of household, and the 1891 and 1901 returns also queried the material of house construction (wood, stone, brick, etc.) and the number of rooms in the residence. Researchers can glean an insight into living conditions by comparing, for example, the number of rooms with the number of people in the household. Although census-takers in 1911 did not collect information on building materials or the number of rooms, they did ask the income of wage-earners and the month and year of birth for each person enumerated.

NSARM holds a full set of surviving census returns for the province, both original records and/ or in microfilm format, from 1671 up to and including 1911. The 1881 census is indexed online at www.familysearch.org. For 1901 and 1911, the returns are fully indexed and transcribed at www.automatedgenealogy.com; and available in digitized format on the Library and Archives Canada Website.

This Built Heritage Resource Guide is unusually rich in the information given in the Note Areas accompanying most images. So... when you scan down the pages, be sure to click on the thumbnails so that you can enlarge and explore the images, plus read the extra details provided beneath each.

 scan 200804504
Census of Canada 
Date: 1890-1891
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Library: HA C16 1891 vol. 1

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
 scan 200715168
Emscote, Residence of Sarah Jane Franklyn, Daughter of Sir Samuel Cunard 
Date: ca. 1875
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Photo Collection: Places: Halifax: General Views

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Notman Studio scan 200714280
"Mrs. G. Francklyn's Morning Room [Possibly at Emscote, Halifax]" 
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives no. 5484

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Helen Creighton scan 200804503
"Evergreens" 
Photographer: J.W. Willis
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 132A

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Helen Creighton scan 200803198
"Living Room, Evergreen [Dartmouth]" 
Date: ca. 1983
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 1283

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Helen Creighton scan 200803199
"Dining Room, Evergreen [Dartmouth]" 
Date: ca. 1983
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 1284

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Helen Creighton scan 200804500
"Drawing Room, Evergreen [Dartmouth]" 
Date: ca. 1983
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 1285

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Helen Creighton scan 200804501
"Entrance Hall - Evergreen [Dartmouth]" 
Date: ca. 1983
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 1286

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
Helen Creighton scan 200804502
"Entrance Hall - Evergreen [Dartmouth]" 
Date: ca. 1983
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 1287

Topic: Nova Scotia Census Records
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