Index to the 1871 Census of Ontario

Welcome to the index of the 1871 census of Ontario. This project was undertaken by the Ontario Genealogical Society to mark the organization's 25th anniversary in 1986. Hundreds of volunteers with the OGS branches contributed to the project. The database was produced in co-operation with the National Archives of Canada. Thirty printed volumes were published by the OGS. Copies are available in many public libraries or they can be purchased from the Ontario Genealogical Society.

The index lists only the names of the heads-of-household and any individual living in a household who bears a different surname. Use the search program to locate names of interest in the database. The references you find will provide the exact page on which that name appears in the original census returns on microfilm. There you will find the names of any other family members living in the household.

The census returns are available on microfilm through the inter-institutional loan arrangement. A list of the enumeration districts, arranged by district number, provide the relevant microfilm reel numbers.

Alternatively, you can order copies of pages from our Photoduplication Unit. Please cite RG 31 and a complete reference.

For example: the entry for James Zimmerman gives the reference 015 A 4 12 03. This indicates that his name can be found in District 15 (Brant County), sub-district A (Burford Township), division 4, on page 12 (disregard the last number, i.e 03). That reference appears on microfilm reel C-9914.

  1. Conduct a search in the database
  2. Explanation of column headings
  3. Codes for religious denomination
  4. List of Districts, Sub-districts and microfilm reel numbers
  5. [ Map of Ontario ]

Explanation of column headings

The index lists only the names of the heads-of-household and any individual living in a household who bears a different surname, referred to as a "stray". Remember to check spelling variations and alternate versions of names, such as Smith/Smyth, McDonnell/MacDonell/MacDonald, O'Grady/Grady. Bear in mind that census enumerators often spelled phonetically.
Given names 1 and 2:
Given names are recorded as stated in the original returns. Thus William George may appear as Wm., William G., W. G., George W., etc.
If an individual bears a different surname than the head of the family, he or she is indicated by a "1" in this column. A "2" designates an entry in Schedule Two ("Nominal return of the Deaths within last twelve months"), which follows Schedule One ("Nominal Return of the Living") for each division of each sub-district.
Women are designated by a "1" in this column.
Remember that ages provided by family members to the census enumerator were not necessarily accurate. Ages under one year have been left blank or indicated by a "0".
Birthplace usually refers to country or province. Some common abbreviations are:

  • O. - Ontario
    C.W. - Canada West (Ontario)
    Q. - Quebec
    C.E. - Canada East (Quebec)
    N.S. - Nova Scotia
    N.B. - New Brunswick
    P.E.I. - Prince Edward Island
    U.S. - United States
    Eng. - England
    Ire. - Ireland
  • Religion:
    A series of two-letter codes has been used to designate religious denomination. An alphabetical list of the codes is available.
    The census enumerator was instructed to record paternal ethnic origin. Thus a person with a Scottish mother and Irish father was recorded as being of Irish origin.
    Occupations have been entered as given in the original enumeration. "F" indicates a farmer, and "L" indicates a labourer.
    Ontario was enumerated by census districts (numbered 1 to 90) which generally correspond to counties and cities.
    Districts were divided into sub-districts, which consisted of townships, towns, villages, and city wards.
    Larger sub-districts were divided into numbered divisions.
    This number indicates the page within the sub-district and division on which the person's name appears, along with those of other family members. A "D" in this column indicates that the name is listed in Schedule Two ("Nominal return of the Deaths within last twelve months"), which follows Schedule One ("Nominal Return of the Living") for each division of each sub-district.

    NOTE: Please ignore final column.

    Codes for Religious Denominations

    Census enumerators used a variety of abbreviations to indicate a person's religious denomination. These have been standardized into a set of two-letter codes. Some are easily recognized, eg. "CE" for Church of England (Anglican). The major variations found in the census returns are included in the following alphabetical list.

    AA   African Association Baptist        LD   Latter Day Saints
    AD   Adventist                          LU   Lutheran/Evangelical Lutheran
    AP   American Presbyterian              MC   I. Meth. C.
    AT   Atheist                            MD   Mahometan
    BA   Baptist                            ME   Methodist
    BB   Bible Believer                     MI   Methodist I.
    BC   Bible Christian                    MO   Mormon
    BE   British Episcopal Methodist        MN   Mennonite
    BR   Brethren                           MS   Messiah
    CB   Christian Brethren                 MV   Moravian
    CC   Christian Conference Baptist       NC   New Connexion Methodist
    CD   Christadelphian                    NG   Not Given
    CE   Church of England, Anglican        NP   N. Presbyterian
    CI   Church of Ireland                  OB   [Other Baptist]
    CM   Calvinistic Methodist              OM   [Other Methodist]
    CN   Christian                          OP   [Other Presbyterian]
    CO   Congregationalist                  PA   Pagan
    CP   Canada Presbyterian/C. Presb.      PB   Plymouth Brethren
    CS   Church of Scotland/Kirk/           PE   Est. Presbyterian
         Scotch Presbyterian, etc.          PM   Primitive Methodist
    CX   Church of Christ                   PR   Protestant
    DE   Deist                              PS   Presbyterian
    DI   Disciple (of Christ)               PU   Puritan
    EA   Evangelical Association            QU   Quaker/Friends
    EM   Episcopal Methodist/               RB   Reformed Baptist
         Methodist Episcopal                RC   Roman Catholic
    EP   Episcopal(ian)                     RM   R. Methodist
    EU   Evangelical Union                  RP   Reformed Presbyterian      
    EV   Evangelical                        SD   Seventh Day Adventist
    FK   Free Kirk/Free Presbyterian, etc.  SP   Spiritualist
    FT   Free Thinker (of England)          SW   Swedenborgian/New Jerusalem
    FW   Free Will Baptist/Free Christian   TU   Tunker
    GB   Regular Baptist/see also RB        UB   United Brethren
    IF   Infidel                            UN   Union Baptist
    IL   Illegible                          UP   United Presbyterian/U. Kirk Presbyterian
    IM   I. Meth. E.                        UT   Unitarian
    IN   Independent                        UV   Universalist
    IP   Irish Presbyterian                 VM   Evangelical Methodist
    IR   Irvingite/Catholic Apostolic       WM   Wesleyan Methodist
    JM   J. Meth. E.                        WP   W. Presbyterian
    JU   Jew                                XC   C. C. Baptist
    KB   Close Communion Baptist            ZZ   [Strange references] 

    National Archives of Canada Canada


     Public Works & Government Services, Canada (1995).
    All rights reserved.
    Terms and conditions

    Revised: January 18, 1996