How the Census of Agriculture began

The British North America (BNA) Act of 1867 determined that a census would be taken every 10 years starting in 1871. However, rapid expansion in Western Canada at the turn of the last century made a more frequent census necessary. Starting in 1896, a separate Census of Agriculture was taken every five years in Manitoba, and in Alberta and Saskatchewan beginning in 1906.

Expansion of the Census of Agriculture

By 1956, rapid economic growth and development created the need for both national demographic and agricultural information at more frequent intervals. In 1956, the five-year Census of Agriculture was extended to the entire country, and the Census of Population became a regular enumeration every five years. That year the two started a long tradition of being conducted concurrently.

Relationship between the Census of Agriculture and the Census of Population

Although the Census of Agriculture and the Census of Population are conducted at the same time, they do have separate questionnaires. Most of the development, testing, processing, data validation and preparation for disseminating data for the Census of Agriculture and the Census of Population is handled by different groups within Statistics Canada. However, collecting the data and sharing communications activities for both censuses streamlines procedures and reduces costs considerably. Another important benefit of conducting the two together is that information from the two questionnaires can be linked to create the Census of Agriculture–Population Linkage database. This unique database, started in 1971, provides users with information pertaining to the social characteristics of the farm population.

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