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The Grace Schmidt Room collection includes historical census information for the Counties of Waterloo, Wellington, Huron and Perth. Census information for the rest of Ontario can be found at the Wilfrid Laurier University Library.
The following census years are available on microfilm in the Grace Schmidt Room, and via the Ancestry Library Edition database. Ancestry may be used free of charge at all Kitchener Public Library locations.
1816 – 1840: Gore District Microfilm, not all years present; available on microfilm only.
1842: Waterloo County, returns are missing from the census; available on microfilm only.
1851: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1861: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1871: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1881: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1891: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1901: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1911: Available on microfilm and via Ancestry.
1921: Available via Ancestry only.
The province was divided into census districts and sub-districts. The districts were based upon cities and counties. Villages and small towns were listed within their county, while unincorporated villages were listed within their township entry.
To learn more about Ontario census returns, their content and organization, please see:
Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the records
by Brenda Dougall Merriman
929.10720713 Merri 2008
Specific Census Information
Prior to 1842
A census was taken annually by township assessors prior to 1842; Waterloo County records date from 1816 until 1840. These census and assessments listed the head of household only. The size of the family, age statistics and agricultural information were also included.
1842 Census Returns
The 1842 census was the first province-wide census, listing the heads of households only. Other information included age of family members, birthplaces, religions, and agricultural information. Unfortunately, many of the census returns have not survived.
The 1851 census was the first to name all household members. Age, birthplace, occupation, religious affiliation, and marital status were also included.
A column for origin, indicating the ethnic heritage of the father, was included.
A column was added listing year of emigration to Canada.
Waterloo Country, 1851 and 1861
Volunteers have created indexes for the following Waterloo County townships:
- Galt (town), 1851
- Waterloo Township, 1851
- Wellesley Township, 1851
- Wellesley Township, 1861
These publications can be found in the library catalogue by searching for “census” and the year.
Ontario, 1871 (including Waterloo County)
An index of the 1871 Ontario census was produced by the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) to mark the organization’s 25th anniversary in 1986. Copies are kept with the books belonging to the Waterloo Region Branch of the OGS in the Grace Schmidt Room.
The head of each household has been listed in the index, with complete data concerning age, sex, birthplace, religion, ethnic origin and occupation. Municipalities and page numbers are also listed to help researchers find the original entry on the microfilm. Individuals with a surname different from the head of family are designated as “Stray”.
Several volumes have been published since 1986. These publications can be found in the library catalogue by searching for “census” and the year.
Federal Census, 1871 – 1911
Fully searchable census indexes from 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 can be found on the Library and Archives Canada website.
Census records from 1921 may be viewed using the Ancestry Library Edition database. Ancestry may be used free of charge at all Kitchener Public Library locations.