In the 5th decennial census of Canada (1911), the province of British Columbia was divided into seven districts. Three of the districts – District No. 8 (Comox-Atlin), District No. 9 (Nanaimo) and District No. 13 (Victoria) – covered the geographical area of Vancouver Island and adjacent Gulf Islands.

Nominal records for District No. 13 (Victoria) have been transcribed, digitized and formatted for the viHistory web site. This dataset consists of about 32,000 records. The boundaries of census district No. 13 corresponded to the boundaries of the City of Victoria. The city was divided into twenty-five sub-districts, as indicated on the Victoria enumeration areas map. Neighbouring municipalities and communities – Saanich, Oak Bay and Esquimalt, Highlands, Sooke and Metchosin – were enumerated in Census District 9 (Nanaimo). [Nominal census records for District 9 are available from Library and Archives Canada external and the Automated Genealogy external websites.]

In keeping with tradition, the 1911 census of Canada was a de jure count, not a de facto count. That is, people were enumerated at their home or usual place of abode, rather than where they were actually found when met by enumerators. The target date for the census was 1 June 1911. Schedule 1 of the census consisted of forty-one questions relating to habitations, households and individual residents. Information on dwellings included civic addresses for single dwellings, and the names of multiple dwellings, such as hotels, vessels and institutions which provided “abodes” for permanent residents. The basic unit of enumeration was the “census household,” which might consist of a traditional single-family dwelling, occupied by blood relatives, or a discrete dwelling occupied by unrelated residents – as in a boarding house or convent. The census was structured so that one person was designated “head of household” and other residents were assigned sub-ordinate positions, such as wife of head, daughter of head, lodger, servant, etc. The census recorded information about the age, sex, religion, race, nationality and occupation of every household resident. It recorded information on education, physical and mental disabilities, life and health insurance, and employment.

For a detailed description of the questions, check the Notes on Enumeration Categories for 1911 on this web site. For more information on the nominal census questions and an explanation of the responses they were expected to elicit, researchers should consult the Fifth Census of Canada 1911 Instructions to Officers, Commissioners and Enumerators.

Dr. Patrick A. Dunae
viHistory editor & project director