In the 4th decennial Census of Canada (1901), the province of British Columbia was divided into five districts. Two of the districts — District No. 3 (Vancouver) and District No. 4 (Victoria) — covered the geographical area of Vancouver Island and adjacent Gulf Islands. The 1901 census of Vancouver Island on this website is based on information recorded by enumerators in those two districts.

The name of District No. 3 (Vancouver) has often caused confusion for researchers. Census district No. 3 (Vancouver) embraced Vancouver Island outside the official limits of the City of Victoria [District No. 4]. In other words, Census district No. 3 refers to Vancouver Island outside Victoria, from the suburban municipality of Saanich to remote settlements near Cape Scott on the north end of the island. The census district name of Vancouver pre-dates the incorporation of the mainland City of Vancouver (1886). [The mainland city of Vancouver is included in Census District No. 1 (Burrard) on the 1901 census.]

The target date for the 1901 census was March 31st. That is, although the enumeration process took several months to complete, enumerators were instructed to record the population as it existed on 31 March 1901.

In the 1901 Dominion census, information was recorded on eleven separate "schedules" relating to living persons; buildings and lands, churches and schools; deaths; farmlands, fruits and plantations; field products; livestock and animal products; agricultural values; manufacturers; forest products and furs; fisheries; and mines. Only Schedule 1 (Nominal Return of the Living) and Schedule 2 (Buildings and lands, churches and schools) have survived in manuscript form.

Schedule 1 comprised thirty-four questions relating to personal descriptions — that is, to a person's name, age, sex, race, marital status and relationship to the head of household; religion; citizenship and nationality (a category that included year of immigration and year of naturalization); profession or trade (including information if a person was an employer or an employee, and the person's earnings and the number of months worked in the year); education and language (including a person's mother tongue, the number of months the person was enrolled in school, and a person's ability to read and write the official languages of Canada); and infirmities (indicating if a person was deaf, dumb, blind or of unsound mind).

For a more detailed description of these headings, researchers should consult the Notes on Enumeration Categories for 1901 on this website.

Dr. Patrick A. Dunae
viHistory editor & project director