Tuesday May 10 is Census Day in Canada, and if your household hasn’t yet received a census notice, chances are it’s in the mail.
Most of us have just ten questions to answer. But one in four households, selected at random, is receiving the 36-page “long-form” version, with dozens of questions about each individual’s place of birth (and their parents’ places of birth), citizenship, ethnic ancestry, education, employment, means of transportation, dwelling-place, health conditions and more. It all adds up to hugely valuable data for government and community planners—but also for future generations of local and family historians.
Why are censuses so important to genealogists? They’re the closest thing we have to snapshots of our ancestors in time—documents that record not just one event but the circumstances of entire families and neighbourhoods. So far, census records for what is now Toronto are available free of charge online for 1842, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1921. To find out what you can find out about your ancestors in Toronto censuses and how to access them, visit our census records page.
Researchers will get a chance to see the information in your 2016 census return 92 years from now… but only if you answer “Yes” to the final question, “Does this person agree to make his or her 2016 National Household Survey information available in 2108…?” Imagine how your 22nd century descendants will feel when they find you.