June 9, 2023
On June 1, 2023, the 1931 Canadian Census was opened to the public. Unlike the U.S. censuses which become available after 72 years, Canadian censuses remain locked for 92 years after they were taken. June 1, 1931, was the official date of the Canadian census that year, although the census takers took longer than one day to complete it.
The 1931 census is fully digitized and free to search. Unfortunately, it is only browsable at present at the website of the Library and Archives of Canada (https://recherche-collection-search.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/index1931 ). Your search can be narrowed by province, district and sub-district.
Ancestry and Family Search are working with the Archives to index the census. When the work is completed, the 1931 census will be fully searchable on the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) web site as well as at Ancestry and Family Search.
Most American researchers may not consider the Canadian census of great value to their research, but the border between Canada and United States was permeable until recently. People often moved between the two countries. This is particularly true if you have ancestors who lived in states that border Canada such as Maine, Washington, or Montana. If you can’t locate someone at a given time in the United States, it’s always worth checking the Canadian censuses.
It’s especially important to be aware of the Canadian censuses if you are tracing relatives forward. This often happens in DNA research. More recent records are often closed due to privacy restrictions. This makes records such as censuses even more important.
The Canadian census asked many of the same questions that the U.S. ones did. A few, however, are unique. One I have found helpful was the question concerning someone’s religion. Knowing that someone was a Methodist, for example, may lead to further research into church records
Canada recorded over ten million people in the 1931 census. Chances are that at least one or two of them will be of interest to you.