Census Concerns

By Crystal Conde Premium

Canada’s Industry Minister, Allan Rock, and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Sheila Copps, announced the release of the 1906 Special Census of the Western Provinces in late January. Family historians can now view population records for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta at the National Archives of Canada, or online at <>.

Many Canadian officials considered the move a victory for genealogists and other researchers, in a battle that’s been raging over the public release of post-1901 Canadian censuses. While the 1906 special census’ release is a step in the right direction for family historians, the Canadian government still has to determine how it will proceed in releasing census information in the future.

Recently, Canada’s parliament received a proposed bill that could restrict public access to census data. Only those who have a “need to know” — including historians and genealogists — will gain access after a 92-year privacy period. The same censuses wouldn’t be made available to the public until 112 years after the census date. One specification of this bill is that the informants would have to permit public disclosure of their information. If they don’t specify otherwise, their personal information will never be released.

From the June 2003 Family Tree Magazine