Here are some not-so-well-known details about distant-past and more-recent efforts to gather the information of Canadians.
- The cost for preparing, conducting and analyzing the 2011 census was budgeted at $660 million.
- Data from all censuses up to 2006 takes up three terabytes of space on 14 computer servers at Statistics Canada. A terabyte equals 1,000 gigabytes. The average iPod music player holds 32GB of data. In 2010 Facebook used 60,000 servers to store user data.
- About half a dozen people are fined during every census for refusing to fill out the forms. The penalties range from $25 to $500 and the census must be completed. No one has ever gone to jail for refusing to complete the census.
- This year about 50 journalists have registered to attend a lockup that begins one minute after midnight on Wednesday.
TYPES OF CENSUS QUESTIONS.
- There were 211 questions on the 1871 census.
- By 1901 the census had a whopping 561 questions on 11 different questionnaires.
- There were 53 questions on the long form of the 2006 census. The short form had only eight questions.
- The 2011 National Household Survey had 65 questions. The short form had 10 questions.
- In the pre-Confederation era, regional censuses focused on assessing wealth for purposes of taxation or counting bodies available for militia duty.
- A census in 1765 asked the first race and ethnicity questions to determine the numbers of Catholics and Protestants in the colonies.
- In the 19th century, there were questions about the number of muskets and swords in households.
- The 1871 census was the first to ask education questions.
- Housing questions in the North included wigwams and tents in the 1881 census.
- In the early 20th century, the census wanted to know if anyone in the household suffered 'infirmities' such as blindness, or 'simple-mindedness.'
- The 1901 census was the first to ask about citizenship.
- The 1911 census stopped asking every household about the annual fish catch, types of boats and fishing gear owned.
- The 1931 census asked many questions about unemployment to gauge the extent of the Depression.
- The 1941 census asked detailed questions on housing, home ownership and mortgages to provide the government with data to assist in urban planning and equalization payments to the provinces.
- It was the first census to ask about the number of flush toilets in the dwelling. The question was flushed away by 1976.
- The 1971 census was the last to ask about military service in the household. The agriculture census that year began asking about the use of pesticides and fertilizer.
- The 1996 census asked about aboriginal identity and unpaid work.
- The 2001 census question on relationships was expanded to count same-sex relationships for the first time.
- A new question in 2006 asked for permission to release the data in 92 years.
- New questions in the 2011 National Household Survey include one on subsidized housing and child care and child support payments.
- In response to concerns about the cancelled long-form census two questions on language were moved to the mandatory short-form questionnaire.
HOW THE CENSUS IS PREPARED
- In 1871, census data was tabulated manually by dozens of clerks and published in five bilingual volumes.
- By 1921 there was an army of census canvassers and enumerators trained for duty. Up to 350 people were specifically trained to tabulate the data in addition to thousands of enumerators.
- In 1931, Fernand Belisle, an employee of the Census Bureau, developed an improved mechanical sorter-tabulator that read the data cards 50 times faster than before.
- The 1971 census required 41,000 trained enumerators.
- The 2006 census data was all captured and tabulated by computer. A total 20,000 enumerators were hired and trained for several weeks of work.
- A total of 5,000 crew leaders hired and trained 30,000 enumerators in 2011.
- The 2011 census was mostly filled out online. A total of 60 per cent of households only received a letter with an access code for a secure website
- In 2011, 98.1 per cent of households filled out the census.