Over the winter, the Canadian Census Data Discovery Partnership’s (CCDDP) User Needs Working Group continued to consult with the census data producers and users to inform the vision for the CCDDP portal’s infrastructure, and data collection has concluded for the census data community (stakeholder) survey and the end user community survey. Qualitative coding for the stakeholder survey occurred in February, and the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data is ongoing. Responses from the end-user survey were received in April, and those data are currently being prepared for analysis.

The purpose of the end-user survey was to understand the needs and preferences of end-users, or people who would be likely to use a census portal for their work or research. We received 21 responses from people working in government, non-profits, academia, and the media. The majority of respondents (81%) consider the census to be essential (43%) or very important (38%) for their work, while 19% rate the census as moderately important for their work. We anticipate the subsequent responses will be valuable for the development of our discovery portal prototype.

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)

  • 122/140 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 4 students at 3 universities actively working on the inventory (Summer 2023).

User Needs Working Group Updates

Chaired by Susan Mowers (University of Ottawa)

  • Data collection has concluded for the census data community (stakeholder) survey and the end user community survey.
  • Qualitative coding for the stakeholder survey occurred in February, and the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data is ongoing. -Responses from the end-user survey were received in April, and those data are currently being prepared for analysis.
  • The Sensitized Research sub-committee is now known as the Inclusive Census Discovery sub-committee. This group is currently planning a consultation event to seek feedback from marginalized and equity-deserving groups regarding their current and future use of the census.

Portal Infrastructure Working Group

Chaired by Leanne Trimble (University of Toronto)

  • Development of an R/Shiny demonstration app is ongoing.

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

Library & Archives Canada Census Search Tool

LAC launches a new census search tool, which promises to transform access to historical census records

Searching across over 44 million census records at Library and Archives Canada, a new census search tool Census Search provides users with the ability to quickly search and filter census records by a variety of selected fields, such as individual name, age, location, occupation, and religion. These new search tools enable researchers and genealogists to access Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) vast collection of census records, allowing anyone to search and find the information they need without having to sift through pages of records or navigate various online websites.

Newly digitized source materials and new database filters support more accurate searches and use consistent tags and terminologies assigned to census collections to make it easier to find and retrieve data across records spanning the past 500 years of history in Canada.

Did You Know?

As of June 1, 2023 census records from the 1931 Census are officially opened, with LAC releasing new records via the new Census Search over the next year.

Exploring Census Heritage

The ability to view digitized images of the original census records allows users to see the original handwriting of census takers, which can be useful for verifying information and understanding the context of when and where that data was collected. Users can also save and download search results and images for future reference.

Scan of Fifth Census of Canada, 1911

Scan of Fifth Census of Canada, 1911

Source: https://recherche-collection-search.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/home/record?app=census&IdNumber=7577995 (06-02-2023)

New features added as of February 2023, include new filters and ranges for Ages, Year of Immigration and Year of birth to the search interface.

Census search interface

Source: https://recherche-collection-search.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census2/index (06-02-2023)

With some of these new feature suggestions coming from the Carleton University 2200 Communications class, it’s already being used in a classroom setting.

“Navigating, using, and finding the census materials and watching the students engage with the Census data for their research has been valuable for sparking all kinds of historical research and community learning”, says Dr. Tracey Lauriault, Associate Professor, Critical Media and Big Data, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University.

Dr Lauriault partnered with the LAC Digital Access Agile Team for her 2nd year Big Data and Society Class for the fall term of 2022. Professor Lauriault further describes the student’s experiences, saying,

“the students loved learning about their heritage via the census, sparking conversation with their parents and grandparents about their ancestors. It was particularly touching for the International students or 1st and 2nd generation Canadians looking for the relatives who came before them. It was most interesting when they discovered that the places they come from did not have the same name in 1901.”

For this project the LAC Digital Access Agile Team and Dr Lauriault, designed a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) assignment where students had to search for data, identify issues with the new system, and also provide suggestions for improvement.

“We all benefited, LAC received feedback from approximately 65 young people, students learned about data, the census, and their history, and all Canadians gained from improvements to the Census search interface”, says Julia Barkhouse, member of the Digital Access Agile Team at LAC.

“We analyzed how the students used Census Search and it gave us valuable insights as to where (or if) they ran into issues. We were able to act on their feedback, roll out bug fixes and improvements quickly as we are an Agile team, and we’ve logged and analyzed all of their feedback and plan to address their suggestions in future iterations.”

Users can now add search ranges of up to 10 years in fields when you enter in data which presents the time slider, making it easier to estimate the age of someone at the time the census was taken in a given year.

Age Ranges

Age range selector

Users can enter age 20 and add a range of 5 years. This search is for everyone between the ages of 15 to 25 as these are a range of 5 years away from 20 (the search term). Ranges on Year of immigration and Year of birth allow for even further estimates, such as entering the year 1900 and adding a 5-year range to include immigration time periods around 1895 thru 1905.

Filter Results

Summary details

New page views and icons that display summary details and allow you to save and link to census records for quick references and sharing.

Search tool

In addition to census data, the new search tool also provides access to other historical source materials, such as military records, passenger lists, and land grants. These materials can provide valuable insights into the lives of individuals and families in Canada’s past.

Exporting and downloading results

Results listed and displayed in the search tool can be exported into a variety of formats including CSV, HTML, XML, and JSON. Up to 3,000 Census records at a time can be downloaded to support further research and analysis.

Exporting to JSON

File export

The new LAC census search tool at Library and Archives Canada offers new ways of accessing and using census records. The ability to easily search and filter data, view digitized images of original records, and access other historical source materials makes this a valuable resource for researchers, genealogists, and the public at large.

For more information about Library and Archives Canada and using Census Search.