Notes on Enumeration Categories

Schedule 1 of the 1911 census of Canada (Population by Name, Personal Description, etc.) consisted of forty-one (41) questions. Enumerators were issued with a printed manual, explaining the purpose of the questions and showing the correct way of entering answers. The manual stated: "Schedule 1 is framed with the object of enumerating the population of the country by name. Every person whose habitual home or place of abode is in an enumerator's district on the first day of June 1911 is to be entered on the schedule by with the details of information asked for on the schedule carefully filled in according to instructions.”

Here is a list of the questions and a summary of the instructions given to enumerators:

Dwelling House
"Any structure which provides shelter for a human being is a dwelling house. It need not be a house in the usual sense of the word, but may be a room in a factory, a store or office building, a railway car, or the like.”
Census Family and Household
The term Census Family was applied to traditional nuclear families, consisting of parents and children, and to extended families having other relatives and servants living under one roof. Residential hotels, boarding houses, institutions and vessels were also counted as census families or households. In most cases, a head of household was indicated. Census families were numbered consecutively within each sub-district. Thus, Family No. 2 was in close proximity to Family No. 1, etc.

The 1911 Manual of Instructions provided more information than previous manuals on the differences between Families, Households and Institutions.

Enumerators were advised: "In the restricted sense of the term a family consists of parents with sons and daughters in a living and housekeeping community, but for Census purposes it may include other relatives and servants, and every such community which has its housekeeping entirely to itself should be returned as a separate family.
"A household may include all person in a housekeeping community, whether related by ties of blood or not, but usually with one of their number occupying the position of head. All the occupants and employees of a hotel or lodging house, if that is their usual place of abode, make up for Census purposes a single household."
"An institution household includes such establishments as hospitals, poorhouses, asylums for the insane, prisons, penitentiaries, schools of learning, military barracks, homes for the aged, homes of refuges, etc. The officials, attendants, servants and inmates of an institution who live in the institution building or group of buildings form one family…”
Last or surnames were entered first, followed by the given name "in full.” Enumerators often included middle names and initials.
"The sex will be denoted by the use of the letter M in the proper column for male and the letter F for female."
Relation to head of family
The schedule was designed so that one person would be identified as head of household and others would be assigned relative positions, such as wife of head, daughter of head, mother of head, lodger, servant, and so on. The head of household was expected to provide "particulars regarding every person in the family, household or institution” to enumerators. If a household head was not able to provide information "concerning boarders, lodgers or other inmates (including miners, men employed on construction work, etc.)” and if these people were not available when the enumerator called, the enumerator was supposed to leave a special form to be completed by absentee residents. When the forms were retrieved, the information was entered on Schedule 1.
Conjugal Condition
The following terms and initials were used: S for single person, M for married, W for widowed, D for divorced and L.S. for legally separated. "Persons separated only as to bed and board will be described as married.”
Month and date of birth
Year of birth
Age on last birthday was recorded here. 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. Infants less than one month were supposed to be entered as "0." 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.
For persons born in Canada, the name of their natal province or territory was recorded. For persons born outside Canada, the name of the country was indicated. In cases of residents born in the British Isles, enumerators were supposed to indicate the region – e. g. England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, etc.
Year of immigration to Canada
Year of naturalization
Racial or tribal origin
According to the Manual, this characteristic was "usually traced through the father, as in English, Scotch, Irish, Welsh, French, German, Italian…etc. A person whose father is English but whose mother is Scotch, Irish, French or other race will be ranked as English, and so forth with any of the others... The children begotten of marriages between while and black or yellow races will be classed as Negro or Mongolian (Chinese or Japanese) as the case may be.
Anyone who was born in Canada or who had become a Canadian citizen (irrespective of their race or place of birth) was recorded as Canadian. The nationalities of non-Canadians were determined by their country or birth or by "the country to which [they] profess to owe allegiance.”
Individuals indicated their religion, according to the church or denomination with which they identified. In families where parents had different religions, children were usually associated with the religion of their mother. However, the 1911 Manual noted: "If the sons or daughters belong to, or adhere to, or favour another denomination, or profess a different religious belief to that of their parents or either of them, the fact should be so recorded.”
Chief occupation or trade
A person's "principal occupation or means of living" was supposed to be described using "the word or words which most accurately indicate the particular kind of work done by which the individual earns money or money equivalent – e.g. physician, carpenter, farmer, stenographer, nurse, etc." We followed the Historical International Classification of Occupations external when encoding occupational titles for the viHistory database.
Employment other than at chief occupation or trade, if any
Information relating to secondary or supplementary information was also collected on Schedule 1
Earnings and related employment information
Schedule 1 contained several columns for information relating to Number of Weeks/Hours at chief occupation; Number of Weeks/Hours at other occupation; Earnings at chief occupation; earnings at other occupation; hourly rate of earnings. Earnings for chief and secondary occupations were also recorded.
Several headings are summarized and consolidated in this field - namely:
Employers were persons who paid salaries and wages to employees. Large manufacturers, small businessmen, and householders who employed domestic servants were identified here.
An employee was someone who worked for a salary or wage paid by an employer.
Own account
This category was not clearly defined and not used consistently by enumerators. It referred to persons "employed in gainful occupation, doing their own work.” It was used to identify a wide range of people who were self-employed.
Place of employment
Enumerators were required to indicate "the place where [a] person is employed," but usually the information they recorded was generalized and vague. For example, a person's place of employment would simply be described as "in office," "store," "factory," etc. Sometimes the names of employers were indicated.
Life Insurance
Respondents were asked to declare the amount of personal health and life insurance coverage they held on 1 June 1911.
Months in school
This category applied to "persons of school age, being those over five and under twenty-five years.” A "school year” consisted of ten (10) months.
Can Read (English and/or French); Can Write (English and/or French)
If a person could read any language, the question was to be answered "yes.” If a person was unable to read or write any language, the word "no” was entered.
Language commonly spoken.
This question pertained to every person who was five years and older. In the 1911 census, a person's "mother tongue” was recorded in a single column headed "Language commonly spoken.” In the case of "foreign born persons,” enumerators were supposed to indicate if a respondent could speak English [E] or French [F]. Enumerators were also required to identify the respondent's native language. The Manual stated: "For example, if the person was born in Russia and his mother tongue is Russian, the entry will be made thus: E /Russia or F /Russian…If neither English nor French has been learned, the name of the language spoken must be used.” We have recorded this data as "Language Commonly Spoken (1)” and "Language Commonly Spoken (2).”
Cost of Education
This question applied to person over 16 years of age who were attending a high school, collegiate institute, college, seminary, university "or other place of higher learning.”
The following headings were used to describe infirmities: Blind; Deaf and Dumb; Crazy or Lunatic; and Idiot or Silly. Enumerators were required to indicate if the infirmity was congenital (that is, from birth) or the age "at which the infirmity appeared.” Enumerators were instructed to "respect the sensitiveness of relatives” in soliciting this information and "specially enjoined to use great care and tact in obtaining the answers” to mental disabilities.
In this field, we have provided enumerators' annotations and other information to augment the record.

The 1911 Census Manual is available here.
Instructions to Officers