Over the winter, the Canadian Census Data Discovery Partnership’s (CCDDP) working groups have been working together towards our project deliverables. Firstly, the User Needs Working Group has continued to consult with the census data producers and users to inform the vision for the CCDDP portal’s infrastructure. Much of their work now is moving towards synthesizing the research they have been conducting. Secondly, the Inventory Working group is close to completing their work with 119/140 censuses inventoried. Lastly, a developer has been hired to develop a proof of concept for the portal, to be available later in 2023.

Update Highlights

As we approach the final phases of our project we are working towards our deliverables of:

  • A vision for the development of a portal, and underlying infrastructure, for the Canadian census data inventory;
  • A network of census expertise; and
  • Improved data discovery through an open, bilingual census inventory.

In addition, members of the Steering and Communications committees continue to engage with the census research community, and are making plans to mobilize the knowledge developed during this project over the next year.

Newsletter Contents

Committee and Working Group Updates

Beginning in 2021, four working groups and committees were formed to initiate CCDDP’s Project Goals. From January 2022 to now, working groups and committees have been meeting monthly, and the following summarizes their progress.

Steering Committee Updates

Chaired by Leanne Trimble (University of Toronto)

  • Steering committee continues to provide support for the project working groups as they work towards project deliverables.
  • Steering committee members are encouraged to bring forward relevant news and initiatives that may be in alignment with the project’s goals; this has helped the project identify census data custodians and users, and strengthen connections with the research community.

Census Inventory Working Group Updates

Chaired by Leanne Trimble (University of Toronto)

  • 119/140 censuses have now been inventoried.
  • We are collaborating with the User Needs Working Group on several census data. custodian and user consultations related to metadata, authorities, and census data discovery (in progress).
  • There are currently 5 students at 3 universities actively working on the inventory (Winter 2023).

User Needs Working Group Updates

Chaired by Susan Mowers (University of Ottawa)

  • Surveys are being conducted with the census data community and end users to inform the final structure, functionality, metadata and design of the portal. Over 10 portal survey responses have now been received and are being coded for reporting and for planning spring consultations. These consultations will delve more deeply into the user needs topics and interests flagged by survey respondents to be priorities. More preliminary user testing is planned for the spring as well.
  • A Sensitized Research sub-committee has been formed to investigate how to represent and share prioritized sensitive data topics within the inventory and future portal.

Portal Infrastructure Working Group

Chaired by Leanne Trimble (University of Toronto)

  • Formed to investigate infrastructure for future portal and develop proof of concept.
  • Pursuing R/Shiny web application for proof of concept portal.
  • Hired Graduate Student Developer to create proof of concept portal (Winter 2023).

Communications Committee Updates

Chaired by Katie Cuyler (University of Alberta)

  • Assisting committees and working groups in their communication needs.
  • Creating a knowledge mobilization plan for the project.

See previous project news and updates on our news page.

Research Connections

The Canadian Historical GIS

Bringing together historical census data, maps, and GIS, the Canadian Peoples Project and the Canadian Historical GIS (CHGIS) makes available newly released historical census subdivision boundaries and aggregate data from the early Canadian censuses of 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, and 1921.

Historical Census Data Releases

The Canadian Historical GIS (CHGIS) is hosted by the University of Saskatchewan’s Historical GIS Lab, and was developed as part of The Canadian Peoples / Les populations canadiennes Project (TCP/LPC). CHGIS provides newly available historical Census Subdivision (CSD) level boundaries designed for use with census data. Boundary files are provided in ESRI geodatabase format, in Lambert Conformal Conic projection. The polygon map layers can be used in a variety of GIS tools, and are designed to be joined with individual-level data created by TCP/LPC. In many cases they are also suitable to join with aggregate CSD-level tables from the published census volumes.

As part of this release, CHGIS also makes available machine-readable tables of aggregate data that were digitized from the published census volumes for 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, and 1901, at the Census Division (CD) and Census Subdivision (CSD) levels in Canada. CHGIS has selected tables for use with spreadsheet, database, statistical, or GIS software.

Users can download the CHGIS geodatabases and aggregate data tables openly.

About the CHGIS Map

Exploring data on the map offers users an interactive tool to view and download statistical information about every place in Canada. Users can interact with historical census data about population, ages, housing, national origin, agriculture, fisheries, and other topics.


We encourage you to learn more about the project, including its history, contributors, and funders, on the CHGIS website. This newsletter repurposes content from the CHGIS website, with permission from Geoff Cunfer (HGIS Lab, University of Saskatchewan).