Nova Scotia Archives

Census and Poll Tax Records

Census

A census is an official count or survey of a population that typically records details about individuals, while a poll tax records the names of heads of household in a given geographical area, for the purposes of collecting taxes based on property value or livestock owned.

Following Confederation in 1867, a census was taken every ten years by the federal government in Canada, and enumerated everyone in a household. Pre-Confederation census returns normally list the head of household and the total number in the household. On occasion, some districts will also record the wife’s name; and a few Acadian returns identify all members of a household.

Only the records from 1861 onward are complete for all parts of the province; the earlier records are very haphazard and incomplete even within individual returns.

Census, Assessment and Poll Tax Records 1767-1838 for Nova Scotia are available on this website.

Census returns for Nova Scotia: 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1921 are available on the Library and Archives Canada website.

Additionally, the 1671-1752 census returns for Acadia can be found on microfilm 12084 available at the Nova Scotia Archives. See Hours and Location to plan a visit.