Canada’s 1921 Census

Canada’s 1921 Census

Update: As of 29 October 2013, Ancestry has released an index to the 1921 Canada census. This is available free on Ancestry websites and is included also in the Ancestry Library Edition.

Follow the 1921 Canada census link just below. On Ancestry sites, you will be prompted to apply for a free registration, if you are not an Ancestry subscriber.  (Note: Ancestry also offers a free 14 day trial, but you will need to give a credit card #.)

Update: As of today, 8 August 2013, images of the pages of the 1921 Canadian census are on (and .ca) free.

Follow the 1921 Canada census link on this page:

You must search geographically. Have a look at some of the census research tools mentioned below in this post.

To search the 1921 census on Ancestry, you will need to register as an Ancestry guest. This is free; you do not need to pay for an Ancestry subscription. See more info about Ancestry free registration here. The 1921 census is also available on Ancestry Library Edition (available at the BCGS Library). In Ancestry Library Editiion, use the Search–>Card Catalog to find the 1921 Canada Census page.

Update: As of July 15, 2013 the Honourable Shelly Glover is the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

The Hon. Shelly Glover,
Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages,
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
(No postage required for sending mail through Canada Post to MPs from within Canada.)

Minister Glover’s e-mail address is:

Update: 26 June 2013 – The President of the British Columbia Genealogical Society has written to the Heritage Minister James Moore requesting that the 1921 Canadian Census be released to the public immediately and the President and Board of the the Society urge all BCGS members to write or e-mail similar messages to the Minister, as well as to their own Members of Parliament.

The Hon. James Moore,
Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages,
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
(No postage required for sending mail through Canada Post to MPs from within Canada.)

Minister Moore’s e:mail address:

Update – 26 June 2013. There are a number of articles about the ‘non-release’ of Canada’s 1921 census. Many are urging Canadians, and indeed others interested, to write to the Canadian Ministers involved.

See Olive Tree Genealogy’s Call to Action post by Lorine McGinnis Schultz.

And Bill Robinson has now started an on-line petition for the release of the 1921 Canada census. Please see Elizabeth LaPointe’s Genealogy Canada recent UPDATE post for the link.

This post was originally published 1 June 2013.

As of today, 1 June 2013, Canada’s 1921 Census, Canada’s 6th, should be in the custody of Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Almost every genealogist and family historian wants access to this census to be available freely just as quickly as possible.

However, as yet, Library and Archives Canada has released no details about plans or arrangements or agreements made or in the works for distributing copies of the census films or for digitizing, on-line access and indexing. See LAC’s own blog post, 1921 Census Countdown! for LAC’s statements about the 1921 Canadian Census release and for comments and questions from researchers.

British Columbian researchers will notice a big difference in numbers from the 1911 Census. BC’s population was 524, 582 in 1921, a 33.66 % increase from 1911, but there was a significant drop in the number of men compared to women, from 282 men to 100 women in 1911, to only 118 men to every 100 women in 1921, according to Canada’s 1922/23 Year Book (pages 141, 151). Some of this drop is attributed to the number of men killed in World War I. Listed on this census will be many who emigrated to Canada after World War I, mainly from the United Kingdom in the case of British Columbia, but also from other parts of Europe.

In the meantime, here are some resources that should be helpful once Canada’s 1921 Census is released freely, or even before. Other research helps will be linked into this post later, so check for updates.  The 1921 Census was microfilmed; paper copies were destroyed.  Several Canadian manuscript censuses (1911, 1921, 1931, 1941 and 1951) have been available to qualified researchers for years; parts are already digitized as part of the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure project and some of their research aids are here.

1921 Canada Census entry headings (blank census page):  See also the census enumerators’ instructions link below for explanations of entries for each column.

1921 Canada census enumerators’ instructions (.pdf file):

1921 Canadian Census divisions map with a City of Vancouver division map:

For more about the City of Vancouver in 1921 see “Vancouver: Changing Geographical Aspects of a Multicultural City” by J. Lewis Robinson, BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, Issue 79, 2010.
There were only two 1921 census divisions for the city, Vancouver Burrard and Vancouver Centre. “Vancouver Centre census division was all of the city north and east of False Creek to Nanaimo Street.”

However, South Vancouver and Point Grey, were NOT part of Vancouver. The Heritage Vancouver Society’s Building Permit database has helpful information about the boundaries between Vancouver, Point Grey and South Vancouver.

“Basically, 16th and Cambie Street are the divisional lines between all three areas.

The 1908 geographic boundaries of Point Grey were thus all areas south of 16th Avenue on the west side of the previous South Vancouver District, approximately from Camosun Street to Cambie Street.

South Vancouver’s geographic boundaries from 1908 forward, were all areas south of 16th Avenue on the east side from Cambie Street to Boundary Road.”

See also the British Columbia directories collection at the Vancouver Public Library website and Derek Hayes’ book, Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley.

Canada Year Book 1922/23, from the Internet Archive – available in various formats
Canada Year Book, 1922/23, from Stats Can (Statistics Canada). Archived content; can be read on-line:

Historical Atlas of Canada, various interactive historical maps, including population changes:


  1. Was there ever an answer from Ottawa to the The President of the British Columbia Genealogical Society’s letter to the Heritage Minister James Moore?

    RON Chambers

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