When Canada was created in 1867, the British North America Act assigned responsibility for "the Census and Statistics" to the federal government. This laid the foundation for Canada's statistical system. It also created a constitutional requirement for a decennial census. The first national census was conducted in 1871.
General statistics were assembled by provincial and federal government departments from operating documents as by-products. These documents produced postal, merchant shipping, trade, inland revenue and immigration statistics.
The 1880s and 1890s brought substantive progress with general statistics, which, starting in 1889, were compiled in editions of what would become the Canada Year Book. These early editions were impressive achievements of statistical coordination.
In 1918, the Statistics Act created the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, a national statistics office with broad powers to collect administrative and survey data for statistical purposes. The Act established a central statistical system that made better use of the scarce skilled employees available at the time and established better ways of collecting and analyzing data.
In 1960, the Glassco Royal Commission, in one of its special studies, gave a strong endorsement to strengthening the centralized statistical system and ensuring the Bureau's independence. One recommendation was that the Bureau become a federal department in its own right and that the Dominion Statistician have the status of a deputy minister. By an Order-in-Council of January 6, 1965, the government accepted this recommendation. Statistics Canada emerged six years later, in 1971, when a new Statistics Act was passed by Parliament.
Over the years, Statistics Canada has continued to fulfill its mandate to produce statistics that help Canadians better understand their country—the land, the people, the economy and the society.
Statistics Canada: a long-standing Canadian institution
Canada's first statistician
The foundation of Canada's statistical system
Statistics and evolving technology
The Daily lives up to its name
A positive and forward-looking workplace