Population Composition 1891-1961 (Volume III, Plate 4; Concise Plate 18)
DONALD CARTWRIGHT Geography, University of Western Ontario
MURDO MacPHERSON Historical Atlas of Canada, Toronto

Population in the Canadas and the Maritimes to 1851 (Volume II, Plate 10; Concise, Plate 13)
BRIAN S. OSBORNE Department of Geography, Queen's University
JEAN-CLAUDE ROBERT Department Histoire, Université du Québec à Montréal
DAVID A. SUTHERLAND Department of History, Dalhousie University

The Canadian Population, 1871; 1891 (Volume II, Plate 29; Concise, Plate 14)
DON MEASNER Historical Atlas of Canada
CHRISTINE HAMPSON Department of Geography, Brock University

Note: This chapter has been specially compiled for the online version. Selected research files from the plates listed above have been used, as well as new research. Sources are listed only for the components used.
Note: First nations people were under-enumerated in all the early censuses, especially in the West. The distribution of native people is better represented using other data sources in the section National Perspectives -> Native Canada.

Compiled by: Byron Moldofsky


Population Growth, 1851-1961 (Interactive Map)
Population Density, 1851-1961 (Interactive Map)
Population Distribution, 1851-1961 (Interactive Map)

All these maps use the same sets of data compiled from the censuses of Canada and the British colonies before confederation. In the Population Distribution map, dots are plotted in a random manner within the known settled area (ecumene) rather than specifically where people were located. The settled area is approximate and representative, and population was scattered throughout the rest of the country as well. Where census data did not exist for the date of the map for some areas, the closest census date available was used. Note: The original published sources are listed here.

Many of these published volumes are now available online at the websites of: Library and Archives of Canada, Statistics Canada, and Early Canadiana Online. See Related Links.

  • Canada. Censuses of Canada, 1665 to 1871, Statistics of Canada, Volume IV. 1876.
    Selected summary tables available on E-STAT, Statistics Canada website.
  • Canada. Census of the Canadas. 1851. Vol 1, Personal Census. pp xvi-xix.
  • New Brunswick. Census. 1851
  • Nova Scotia. Census. 1851
  • Prince Edward Island. Census. 1848
  • Newfoundland. Census. 1857
  • Canada. Census of the Canadas. 1861. Vol 1, Personal Census. pp 42-3, 78-9.
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1870-71. 1873. Vol 1, Table 2, Table 5, Table 6
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1880-81. 1882. Vol 1, Table 5, Table 6
  • Newfoundland. Census. 1884.
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1890-91. 1893. Vol 1, Table 2, Table 6
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1901. Sessional Papers 1903. Vol 1, Table 1, Table 2, Table 5
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1911. Vol 1, Table 1, Table 14
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1921. Vol 1, Table 10, Table 27
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1931. Vol 2, Table 6, Table 7, Table 12
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1941. Vol 1, Table 1, Table 4, Table 7
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1951. Vol 1, Table 2, Table 3
  • Canada. Census of Canada, 1961. Vol 1, Part 1, Series 1.1, No. 11, Table 2, Table 3
  • F. H. Leacy, editor. Historical Statistics of Canada, 2nd edition. Series A2-14.