Vancouver Island 1891 Census

First Nations

In 1891, the aboriginal population of Vancouver Island was administered by federal government Indian Agents. The Indian Agencies and corresponding enumeration districts were as follows:

Western Coast

Harry Guillod, Indian Agent & enumerator
Census District 3, sub-district 20 (n): "West Coast"

Extending from Otter Point to Cape Cook on the west coast of Vancouver Island, this agency embraced 18 Nuu-chah-nulth tribes, from Point San Juan in the south to Cape Cook at the northern end of the agency. In the 1891 census, all of the tribes -- with the exception of the Pacheena band -- were identified separately.

Kwawkewlth Agency

Reginald H. Pidcock, Indian Agent; W. F. Rothwell, enumerator
Census District 3, sub-district 22 (g-3): "North End of Vancouver Island"

The Kwawlewlth Indian Agency extended from Quatsino Sound on the northwest coast to Cape Scott and along the northeast coast down to the entrance of Johnstone Strait. The Kwakwakwakawakw people (also referred to as Kwawkewlth or Kwakiutl people) lived here. In 1891, the agency was responsible for 17 bands or tribes. In the 1891 census, the aboriginal population was included within Census District 3, sub-district G-3 (North End of Vancouver Island.) Regrettably, the enumerator did not identify the tribes separately, as George Blenkinsop had done in 1881.

Cowichan Agency

W. H. Lomas, Indian Agent & enumerator
Census district 3, sub-district 23 (g-4): "East Coast of Vancouver Island"

The Cowichan Agency embraces the Hul'qumi'num-speaking people on the eastern side and southern end of Vancouver Island. It extended from Comox on the Gulf of Georgia down to Otter Point on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. In the 1891 census, Lomas did not identify separate bands within the agency, as he had done in the census of 1881. However, many members of the Nanaimo band can be identified because they were enumerated as Methodists. In contrast, the majority of aboriginal people in the Cowichan agency were Catholics.

A note on spelling

We have spelled the names of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations — Clakquot, Oiat, etc. — as they were written by the Indian Agent, Harry Guillod. Likewise, we've recorded the names of aboriginal persons as they were written by Guillod, Lomas and Rothwell.

First Nations Search

You can also search for more information on First Nations bands.