Historical Census Data


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Referred to data-holder - Awaiting Response
History and Archaeology
Votes: 896

Government institution

Library and Archives Canada


Library and Archives Canada has a searchable database on their website of several historical Canadian censuses from 1825 to 1916. The search function works well for genealogists, but for social research it would be convenient to have a set of downloadable files that can be imported into statistical software.

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Submitted by JMacKay on January 20, 2016 - 12:56 AM

There seems to be no reason to not supply a downloadable dataset for historical Censuses -- especially given the existence of a web site that is already built off such a database. I have contacted Library and Archives Canada directly but I was told in an automated response to expect up to four weeks for just a reply. I'm sure the department is resource constrained but this makes it all the more crucial that the information is released in a usable format for both the public and researchers. Understandably, Library and Archives Canada does not want people scraping their web site but this effectively denies researchers information in a timely manner. Given the demands on researchers, these unnecessary delays will encourage many to use data available elsewhere or ignore Canadian projects completely. This is the conclusion I'm beginning to come to in my own research. I am completing a fellowship at the University of Oxford and I've had to forgo opportunities here to develop a project because of the lack of historical Census data. It seems a shame that our own public bureaucracy -- which I think is very often best in class -- is inadvertently creating artificial barriers for Canadian researchers wanting to do research about Canada.

Submitted by open-ouvert on January 21, 2016 - 6:35 PM

In response to your comment, Library and Archives (LAC) provides the following: At this time, due to partnership agreements, it is not possible for LAC to make historical census records available via the Open Data portal. A ce moment, en raison d’accords de partenariat, il n’est pas possible pour BAC de rendre accessible les dossiers historiques de recensement par l’entremise du portail de données ouvertes.

Submitted by open-ouvert on January 20, 2016 - 10:10 PM

Thanks for your comment, I have forwarded your suggestions to the data owner, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thom, For the Open Government Team