Censuses, or population counts, have been conducted in the territory now known as Canada since 1665-66 in New France (Statistics Canada, 2015). Canada’s census is our most valuable primary economic, social, and cultural data set, and is an essential research tool for the formation of new knowledge and understanding about the populations that lived here in the past and present.

The Canadian Census Data Discovery Project is a two-year project to improve access to and research conditions for existing qualitative, quantitative and spatial data sources from the population censuses of Canada. Key deliverables are the design and delivery of a proof-of- concept bilingual discovery portal, and future-looking recommendations upon which this project can be further built.

The sources of information that make up these censuses are rich, diverse, and complex. They consist of databases of archival records, publications, and data files, containing a mix of primary data, expert analyses, and supporting documentation. This project is focused on those sources that contain data, and documentation that supports the use of the data.

Project Objectives:

  1. Complete a comprehensive, bilingual census inventory.
  2. Complete a user needs study, which will gather input from stakeholders (both within and beyond the formal partnership) about the functional requirements for a census data discovery portal.
  3. Design the inventory metadata model and taxonomies, and opportunities for the future.
  4. Design and develop a proof of concept for a Canadian census data discovery portal by using the project’s consultation model of bringing together stakeholders.
  5. Complete a series of investigations (white papers) on topics related to the development of a national census infrastructure, which will cumulatively provide a vision for how this project should continue into a future phase.