Bonus genealogy activity - Census Information

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


Did one of your ancestors (grandparent or great-grandparent) live in the Victoria area or on Vancouver Island about one hundred years ago? Where had they come from and when? What did they do?

A census is a document that lists information about all of the people in a country. A Canadian census has been conducted since 1851 in some parts of Canada. They are taken every 10 years. One of the most useful was the 1901 Canadian census.

If your ancestor lived in Victoria or elsewhere in B.C. or Canada in 1901, you can find him or her on the 1901 Canadian census. You will need to know his or her name and approximate age. It helps if you have some idea where the person lived. If you don’t have any ancestors here at that time or if you don’t have enough information, you can research someone else, a friend’s ancestor or a famous person.


You can search the census in Victoria and choose a person or family to research from the people listed there.

Refer to the sheet on How To Access the 1901 Canadian Census and follow the instructions to find your ancestor.

If you don’t have a specific person to search for choose British Columbia and then Victoria District. You can then pick a sub-district such as Victoria C-1 or Victoria City D-1. Then pick one of the pages and choose a person or family.



1901 Canada Census Index and Microfilm - free online at Automated Genealogy.

How to Access the 1901 Canadian Census - extra help and tips.



Get the split screen so you can see all of the information about all of the people on the page.

Make a list of all of the occupations of the people on the page. If there are not at least 8 different occupations check on the page before or after.

Do you know what all of these occupations are? If not, find out.

Do people still do these jobs today? How might the jobs be different today?

How many of the women had jobs? How is this different to today?

Make a list of five jobs today that you won’t find on a census from 1901.

If you were to search on a page listing people in Metchosin or North Saanich in 1901, what might be the most common occupation? Why? Check this out.



Using the same page and three others, make a list of all of the places where people were born. Keep a tally of how many people were born in each place.

Were more people born in B.C or were more born elsewhere?

How many were born in Canada? (Notice that births are listed by province not just as Canada)

What are the two places not in Canada that were the most common birthplaces?

If you did the same exercise today what differences do you think you would find?


Choose a household from one of the pages you have researched. Can you find out how much the head of the household earned in a year?

Could the members of the family read and write? Can you find where this information is listed in the census? Could they speak English? Did the children attend school?



Download a printer friendly version of this One Hundred Years Ago activity sheet in PDF format.