Vancouver Island 1881 Census

Notes on Enumeration Categories

Schedule 1 (Nominal Return of the Living) of the 1881 Dominion census consisted of the following categories or fields:

Whether "a house, a shanty, or a house under construction; or a vessel." [Enumerators' Instructions, 1881].  The term "shanty" was not formally defined, but it generally referred to a temporary or unconventional shelter.  On the Western Coast, the term was used to identify the communal "long houses" or "big houses" of aboriginal people.
Entered as a number for each census family. "A family, as understood for the purposes of the census, may consist of one person living alone or of any number of persons living together under one roof and having their food provided together." [Enumerators' Instructions, 1881].
including surname, first name and initials
i.e. gender
Infants less than a year old were supposed to be entered as a fraction of 12 - e.g. 2/12 for a two month old baby. In this database, infants less than a year old are entered as "0" and their age, if it was recorded as a fraction, is displayed in the Comments field.
Country or Province of Birth
Over fifty nations, British colonies, and Canadian provinces were recorded.
Thirty-three different denominations and creeds were mentioned, as well as non-religious terms such as infidel, pagan, and heathen.  Enumerators were rather arbitrary in recording the religions of aboriginal and Chinese people.
A problematical term, relating to ethnicity, one that usually referred to the birthplace of a person's parents. In many cases, a child's "origin" was determined by the father's "origin." The origins of a child whose father was "English" and whose mother was "native Indian" will likely appear as "English." Some enumerators used the term "Half Breed" in this category. The term "Jewish" was occasionally used by to signify "origin," although most enumerators used the term with reference to religion.
Profession, occupation or trade
Job titles and descriptions are presented as they were originally entered on the census schedules. We have, however, used codes that are consistent with modern International Standard Classification of Occupations. Nearly 300 distinct occupations were recorded in the 1881 census of Vancouver Island.
Marital status
married or widowed; assumed to be unmarried otherwise
Indicated whether a person was attending school
Officially, the categories were "deaf & dumb, blind, or of unsound mind." However, several enumerators also used the term "helpless" and it has been included here.
Schedule 1 included a column headed "Dates of operations and remarks." Occasionally enumerators used this field to record additional information about persons they had met or places they had visited. We have noted the enumerators' remarks, whenever they were recorded, in this database.