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Newfoundland and Labrador Census Information

Prior to 1675 through 1835

Although census were conducted between 1675 and 1715 they would have no real genealogical value, since most were that of migratory fisherman, both French and English, and it is doubtful that any present day Newfoundlander would be able to trace his ancestry to these. Further, the censuses taken between 1716 and 1835 were generally carried out by a fishing Admiral under instruction from the Colonial Office and contained data related to fishing vessels and fish caught, although they did contain a population count as shown in the chart below.

Census Year Population Count

1716         3,295
1741         6,000
1750         6,900
1763        13,112
1773        11,576
1784        10,701
1790        16,835
1804        20,380
1816        52,672
1823        52,157
1831        75,900

1836 - 1949

The first official census was conducted in 1836 following the passing of an act in the Newfoundland Legislative Assembly that called for Censuses to be every ten years on the first Monday in May, or shortly thereafter. These censuses would be more extensive in content than previously. Along with the names and addresses of individuals, the censuses would also include land under cultivation, the number of houses, as well as the number of cattle, sheep & hogs. The years and population counts for censuses conducted during this period are listed in the chart below.

Census Year Population Count

1836         75,094
1845         96,293
1857        124,288
1869        146,536
1884        197,335
1901        220,984
1911        242,619
1921        263,033
1935        289,588
1945        321,819

1950 - Present

After becoming part of the Canadian federation in 1949, Newfoundland and Labrador censuses were conducted as an integral part of the Canadian census. As a Canadian province, Newfoundland and Labrador's first census was in 1951. Subsequent censuses occurred every 10 years with partial censuses occurring at the mid-points between the complete versions, but may be viewed for statistical data only, as part of Canada, 100 years must pass before the names can be used, so they have little genealogical value.

Where are they?

Census returns are maintained by the Newfoundland Department of Social Services and are available up to 1945. All of the early censuses should be available on microfilm, however, only fragments of the 1911 census survive. Microfilm copies are available from a variety of sources;

-- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,
-- The Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador at St. John's.
-- National Archives of Canada in Ottawa.
-- Various University Libraries throughout Canada.

If neither of these resources are available to you, check with your local library for their availability through the inter-institutional loan service.

Addresses for these institutions will be given at a later point.

Page last updated March 26, 2013 (Craig Peterman)

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