Open access Census portal - Portail de libre accès du recensement
Open Census Portal
To build a bilingal open Census discovery portal
Evolution of Canada's Census
Open access to Census data and materials
De-mystify the story of Canada's peoples and communities history
Fully bilingual "deep-dive" searching at the table or item-level
From the European "settlement" period: 1665 - present
In one comprehensive, bilingual inventory, bring together:
The component materials of the Censuses of Canada from 1665 to current and their access URIs - in English and French
Linked and original bilingual metadata for those materials,
New Census taxonomies (enhanced authority lists) to cover and harmonize changing Census concepts, geographies and diverse materials,
Information on the quality of the (mostly-digital) materials.
This Open Historical Census collections project was initiated by the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) Data Community in 2018.
Historical Census Discovery Portal
The project working group is building the foundation for a discoverable collection of bilingual, digital Canadian Census materials and to identify potential means of short and long-term access to the materials through a single portal.
That foundation is based on building a comprehensive bilingual inventory of harmonized metadata, access links to materials, and assessment of the quality of the linked materials. The project will be completed with an outline vision document for a long-term bilingual Open Historical Census Portal.
The following describes the main stages of project
Scope the project from a high-level to the conceptual design level,
Design the database model and metadata structure for the bilingual inventory,
Gather and inventory Census materials, at the item-level, e.g., table-level, for Censuses of Canada, 1665 to present,
The core of the inventory process is the creation (authorship) of searchable discovery metadata and quality assessment information at the item level,
Where possible, existing metadata will be re-used, through the use of the metadata crosswalk model.
Produce vision framework document for an envisioned project
for long-term access to historic Census of Canada machine-actionable data and materials in English and French,
through one comprehensive, searchable, downloadable bilingual historical portal.
This project, begun in 2017, has been sponnsored by the Ontario Council of University Libraries, under the auspices of its Data Community and carried out by the Historical Census of Canada Working Group. The purpose of the project is to build the foundation for the envisioned project for a long-term bilingual collection available through an Open Historical Census portal.
High-level Inventory scope
The project working group has developed the following scope statement: this project aims to inventory, to the best of our ability, all born-print and born-digital statistical tables, detailed data, and mapping products, as well as all relevant documentation, for all census years in Canada (pre-Confederation to the present day). The inventory will be completely bilingual. The inventory will be at the individual item level, (e.g., a statistical table: "Birthplace by Census Districts", 1901 Census, 98-1901(F) v.1, table 14), with the intention of eventually creating a searchable census platform that will allow for greatly enhanced discovery of specific variables available across census years. Some limitations on the scope of the project:
In scope: Only the Census of the population of Canada is in scope. > Out of scope: Other censuses such as the Census of Agriculture, as well as publications relating to Industry, merchandising, trade, household possessions. Transportation etc. may be included in a future project.
In scope: Only Censuses that are "more than" mere population counts are in scope at this time. In other words, Censuses of individual persons and households are in scope. > Out of scope: As some very early local population "counts" did not include details about individuals, these are excluded.
In scope: Only materials specifically released as part of a census are in scope at this time. > Out of scope: Post-census surveys such as the Aboriginal Peoples Survey, annual (intercensal) population estimates, population projections, and secondary level sources about the Census may be included in a future project. The project will also involve the creation of some new documentation that will improve discoverability of the collections. Authority tables will be produced to clarify vocabulary used to identify specific censuses, census volumes, and geographies referenced in the censuses over time.
In scope: Only those Census contents which provide Census results or support the understanding and use of those results are in scope at this time. Note, classification manuals (of, e.g., industries, occupations, standard geography) should be considered part of censuses. These are included as reference materials "key" to understanding and using the Censuses, even though they are not released as part of the Censuses - these reference materials may also include maps. > Out of scope: Purely promotional materials, even though released as part of a Census, are out of scope at this time.
In scope: For the older censuses (for example: New France or Western Canada/U.S.), two possibilities may be considered regarding the geographic coverage of the document. If the document in question covers more than the current national territory, then the document will be inventoried in the historical census materials (e.g.: an aggregate data table providing data for Newfoundland Colony, as well as Quebec Colony and Miquelon Island). > Out of scope: If the document covers only a New France territory or another contiguous (with Canada) territory which is not currently part of the Canadian territory, then the document will not be inventoried in the historical census materials (e.g.: Louisiana (U.S.), St-Pierre and Miquelon (France), or northern Montana (U.S.)).
Technical requirements and design
The inventory design must:
bridge the numerous formats, concepts, types of information and geographies addressed by the Census of Canada from its earliest days
bring toegether historical Census materials in a consistent way with meaningful links between sources of information
Figure 1: Inventory Design, by the Historical Census of Canada Working Group, OCUL, 2019
About the Inventory: Using bilingual Metadata to Connect to Census Information
The Historical Census of Canada Working Group of OCUL has developed a series of standards (bilingual Census taxonomies, metadata cross-walk) as the foundation for building the bilingual Census inventory, comprising two databases: mirror English and French databases. We have taken this approach of inventorying item level information to ensure that the Open Historical Census Portal supports deep-dive data information discovery and access.
At the end of this page are details on our standards and a note on the production platform we are using for data entry into the two inventory databases (mirror English and French databases).
How does the database work?
Data entry (metadata creation) is done in the Census materials table in the following ERD diagram. The tables around it are the authorities (taxonomies) used for the metadata fields in red. Again, the level of the materials being inventoried is at the item-level.
Figure 2: Historical Census inventory database: Entity relationship diagram, by the Historical Census of Canada Working Group, OCUL, 2019