From 1906 to 1956, a separate Census was taken for the Prairie provinces five years after every national Census, providing a more complete picture of Canada's west at this time. By law, the collection was kept private for 92 years and this is the first time ever that Canadians can view these important records online.
Family and social history enthusiasts can search the collection by first and last name, residence, place and year of birth, by father, mother and spouse's name. This Census was also the first ever in Canada to ask about military service, providing much more detailed information about one's ancestors.
In addition to recording basic population and demographic statistics, the Census recorded primary migrant communities, which originated from England, Ireland, Scotland, the U.S. and Russia. In fact, 1916 was the year that the famous Doukhobors - a group of Christian Russian immigrants that would come to play a great role in building the Prairies - first arrived in Alberta.
Karen Peterson, Marketing Director, Ancestry.ca, comments: "The 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is a fascinating and valuable snapshot of the Canadian Prairies and the people living there during a time of tremendous significance in the shaping of our country.
"Not only are Census records one of the most vital resources for family history researchers but they help paint a picture of the times in which these people lived and the many challenges they overcame."
1916 was a milestone year in Canada's history, especially in the Prairies. On January 28, women in Manitoba were finally given the right to vote; this was the first time that right was granted in Canada, and thanks to the efforts of great women such as Nellie McClung, who appears in the 1916 Census living in Edmonton, Alberta.
It was also in 1916 that Canadian troops fought in some of the most significant battles of the First World War - the Battle of Mont Sorrel and the Battle of the Somme, in which Canada's heroic role helped pave the way for a future Allied victory.
Many Canadians will be able to find ancestors in this collection and Census records are excellent for narrowing down individuals and families in a particular place and time. But family history enthusiasts can also scan the 1916 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to see if they are related to notable Canadians from the Prairie Provinces.
[This database is also accessible from the Ancestry.com website]