Instructions and tips for finding information in the 1901 Canadian Census

Provided by the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS), Victoria, BC, Canada

The 1901 Canadian census is free to use online at

  1. Use Ctrl+click on the above link to access the site, or type this link address into your browser address line.

    Note: On this site, links are displayed in blue text.  After you click on a link, the colour of the link will change to pink. This tells you the places where you have already searched.
  2. Choose the province you want.
  3. Choose the area you want if you know where the person lived.

    • Sometimes it is better just to enter the surname when you have reached the province level. For example: Choosing Victoria will give the city of Victoria, some of Esquimalt and Metchosin.
    • To get the areas which are now Saanich and the peninsula, choose Vancouver Island. This includes Victoria South (Royal Oak and Highlands), Victoria North (Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney etc) and the rest of Esquimalt as well as all of the rest of the island.
  4. Enter the surname (last name) and click on "Go".  If you don’t find the name you are searching for, try a variation in the spelling. For example: Johnson may have been written as Jonson, Johnston or Johnstone. The census taker may have written the name incorrectly or the person transcribing the written record for the computer may have misinterpreted the name.
  5. You can scroll down through the list of people with this surname until you find the one you want,
    you can enter more details such as given name age etc and click on filter.
  6. Click on the page number of the person you want to see. The page number is the second column from the right of the page.
  7. The printed list of people on this page will come up and your person will be highlighted in yellow. You may have to scroll down the page to find him/her.

    • Be sure to make note of the number on the far left of the name. This is the line number.
    • The list will tell you the person’s relationship to the head of the household and whether the person is single, married or divorced. The birth date and age are also given.
    • You can also see who else lived in the house. This may include family members, boarders (sometimes called lodgers), visitors and servants (domestics). The Family or Household number is in column 2; it is also a link beside the head of the household. Click on this link to get a list of everyone in the household. This is useful if you want to print a list of the family.
  8. Scroll back to the top and click on the link for split screen (you must already have search results on the screen to see this link). You will now see an image of the actual census page on the top half of the screen and the index list on the bottom half of the screen.

    • You can scroll up or down in both parts using the arrows and bars on the right of the two screens.
    • You can move right and left using the arrows and bars on the bottom of each half screen.
    • You may need to make the image of the census page in the top half bigger so you can read it. The method you use to do this may change with the program (browser) you are using.  For instance:
      • If you see a bar across the top of the census page in the top half of the screen, find the white rectangle with a % in it. Pull down the arrow and change the % until it is the size you want.
      • Move your mouse over the image in the top half of the screen and when an icon bar appears over top, click on the “+” icon as many times as you want.
  9. Find the person in the top half of the screen by using the line number. Now you can get all the information.

    • Where the person was born (column 11), and when he or she came to Canada if not born here (column 12)
    • Racial origin (where his or her family originally lived) (column 14), citizenship (column 15), and religion (column 16)
    • Occupation (column 17)


The 1901 Canadian census is available on

The 1911 Canadian census is available on


Download a printer friendly version of this How to Access the 1901 Canadian Census guide in PDF format.