Articles

WHAT THE CENSUS MAN WILL FIND OUT

The census-taker will knock at your door soon to ask what’s new and how things have been. He’s already learned a lot since his last call— for instance that husbands are easier to catch and that men will lie about their ages too

FRED BODSWORTH March 1 1951
Articles

WHAT THE CENSUS MAN WILL FIND OUT

The census-taker will knock at your door soon to ask what’s new and how things have been. He’s already learned a lot since his last call— for instance that husbands are easier to catch and that men will lie about their ages too

FRED BODSWORTH March 1 1951

WHAT THE CENSUS MAN WILL FIND OUT

FRED BODSWORTH

A COMPLETE stranger is going to walk up to Prime Minister St. Laurent’s house in Ottawa some day this June and ask him if he ever went to school. At the same time, other complete strangers will be asking other Canadians what they do for a living, how old they are and 27 other searching and often embarrassing questions designed to tell Canada almost all there is to know about itself.

The answers will provide a mountain of national knowledge, including such scattered facts as these: • The great Canadian manhunt is more promising than ever, with Canada’s surplus of unmarried males over unmarried females still growing.

• Quebec tops all provinces in percentage of homes with radios where 10 years ago it ranked second last. • Saskatchewan is the only province showing a decrease in population during the past decade.

• British Columbia has the highest marriage rate and lowest birth rate.

• Men lie about their ages just as much as women. • Canadians born in 1951 can expect four more years of life than was the expectation of citizens born in 1941, because of improved public health and disease control.

These are some of the symptoms of Canada’s growing pains which will be revealed when the 18,000 enumerators of Canada’s ninth census pour their millions of questionnaire answers into Ottawa. It has been 10 years since the census man went calling at every house, hotel, dugout, wigwam and igloo. Canada has changed. He has a lot to find out.

A modern census is far more than merely counting noses, though many persist in thinking otherwise. One woman opened her door to an enumerator in 1941 and told him fiercely: “There ain’t no sense in you coming back here every 10 years asking me if I have any more kids. My old man left me— the bum!”

Though dust dry at first glance, Canada’s 1951 census will delve with naked frankness into every facet of Canadian life to turn up a story of the past 10 years so revealing that hardly a fact or factor concerning the country and its people is overlooked. The figures will shed new light on the kind of homes in which we live, how we earn and spend our money and what we own. Economic and social trends, medical advances, setbacks and successes—they will all be mirrored in the cold mute tables—the heartbreak and lost hopes of abandoned farms in Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario, the new prosperity revealed by the increase of radios in Quebec.

But Canada’s statisticians aren’t waiting for the census answers. Into a sprawling one-time lumber mill on Ottawa’s Sussex Street, whose weathered brick walls now house the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, a deluge of statistics every day covers everything from births and deaths to the milk production of Canadian cows and the sale of women’s hats. Every 10 years DBS rolls up its sleeves and stages the big census as a periodic auditing to make sure these short-term figures aren’t leading them astray. But, between censuses, DBS still keeps an eager eye on Canada’s doings. As a result, Dominion Statistician Herbert Marshall and his crew already have a pretty fair idea what the 1951 census will reveal.

Take the big question—population. In 1941 Canada’s census takers counted 11,506,655 noses. Add births, immigration and 350,000 Newfoundlanders, subtract deaths and emigration, and the answer is approximately 14,100,000 noses to be counted this time—two-and-a-half million brandnew Canadians, some of whom arrived in immigrant ships but most of whom simply were born here. In 10 years Canada has added the equivalent of almost three Montreals. No other decade has

The census-taker will knock at your door soon to ask what’s new and how things have been. He’s already learned a lot since his last call— for instance that husbands are easier to catch and that men will lie about their ages too

seen that many new Canadians (the closest was 1,830,000 in 1901-11).

How come? Well, marriage and birth rates always head for the ceiling in wartime. Canada’s birth rate was 20 per 1,000 of population in 1937 and 28.6 per 1,000 in 1947—about 130,000 additional babies per year. But the average Canadian family today is a bit smaller than in 1941. Average 1941 family was 3.9 persons, or roughly father, mother and two children. This was down to 3.7 in 1949 and may be down around 3.5 persons per family by June, 1951.

Quebec is still up top (4.5 persons per family in 1941, 4.3 in 1949) and British Columbia at the bottom (3.4. in 1941, 3.3 in 1949). An interesting feature of Canadian geography and life underlies these drab statistics. British Columbia, which boasts it’s the only province with no winter, attracts a large number of people entering retirement, from Britain as well as from other parts of Canada. Thus, the province has the highest percentage of British-born residents and the highest percentage of old people. British Columbia has Canada’s lowest Continued on page 49

What the Census Man Will Find Out

Continued from page 19

birth rate because 24% of its women are over 50. In the high birth rate provinces like New Brunswick and Quebec, only 16% to 17% of women are in the over-50 group.

But British Columbia, with its yearround skiing and swimming, is luring youngsters as well as pensioners and its marriage rate has recently become Canada’s highest.

One of the most significant findings of the 1941 census was that Saskatchewan's population had declined while all other provinces moved up. Saskatchewan, judging from the estimates, is going to show the same trend for 1951. Again all other provinces will be up.

Census figures on population changes will show graphically how wartime and postwar economic trends have altered patterns of life in Canada. They will show that the radical shift in population from rural to urban areas which first became apparent in the 1911 census has continued faster than ever during the past decade. Rural to urban, in a broad sense, also means movement from the Prairies and Maritimes to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

Here is the DBS forecast on how the provinces will line up in the 1951 census, with some of the factors affecting each province’s population:

Oddly enough, bleak Yukon grabs the prize for fastest growth although it’s still the smallest province or territory in population. In 1941 Yukon census takers found 4,914 people, two thirds of them males. Mining developments have boosted this to approximately 8,000 for the 1951 census, a jump of 60%.

British Columbia, 818,000 in 1941 and 1,160,000 today, is the fastestgrowing province with a 10-year increase of 41.8%. During the 1930s B. C. gained about 8,000 a year; during the 1940s it suddenly started packing in newcomers at about 25,000 a year. Industrial growth is only half the answer. As in California, the fastestgrowing U. S. state, the Pacific climate has a seductive appeal. During the war thousands of servicemen got a taste of B. C.’s climate and scenery; they liked it and thousands came back in civvies.

The Northwest Territories are in No. 3 position. The present population of 16,000 is a 33.3% increase over 12,028 of 1941. As in the Yukon, mining expansion created the gain.

Quebec’s population has moved up from 3,332,000 to around 4,050,000, a 21.5% gain.

Ontario has gained the most people

812,000-but on a percentage basis trails Quebec with 21.4%.

Ontario and Quebec have also gained population faster than natural increase and immigration can account for. Thousands of new jobs created by industrial growth have lured outsiders, mostly from the Maritimes and Prairies.

From here on all provinces except Saskatchewan will manage to show some gain, but the gains will be less for some than what should accrue from natural increase. These are the losers in the interprovincial shuffle.

Nova Scot ia and New Brunswick will both show gains of 15.9% over 1941. Both showed population drops during t he war hut have more than caught up since 1946.

Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta also dropped below the 1941 level when Ontario and

Quebec war plants were rolling full blast but are picking up again. Alberta is already 14.9% over its 1941 population. Manitoba is up 10.9%. Prince Edward Island uarely stays out of the red; dropping from 95,000 to 90,000 during the war, it has struggled back to an estimated 97,000 today—a net 10-year gain of 2.1%.

Depression and wartime population shifts have left Saskatchewan still staggering. It hit a peak in 1936 with 931,000. Dry years, mechanized farming and then the lure of war plant pay cheques sent its youth scurrying for the cities. Manitoba and Alberta, caught in the same predicament, had some industry to fall back on. Saskatchewan’s economy is hitched almost entirely to wheat farming (only Prince Edward Island has a smaller industrial payroll) and when war’s end found the population down to 833,000 the lowest since 1927 there was little to bring the boys back home. But the 1951 census will show Saskatchewan staging a comeback. The estimate for today is 880,000, still 1.7% below 1941.

One of the first things population experts will want from the 1951 census is an accurate breakdown of age groups. How many Canadians are under 20, how many over 65?

This information is among the most important a census can reveal, for such things as pensions and education must be planned on the size of age groups. It is the key to a country’s whole economy and production potential; roughly speaking, those between 20 and 64 are producers, the nation’s strength, while those below 20 and over 65 are dependents.

Medical advances are lengthening human life and in every civilized country the percentage of population in older groups grows constantly larger. rI his leaves a smaller percentage of

producers in the middle-age groups to support them. Sociologists predict that this, though still a minor concern, will become one of the great problems of the future. We talk glibly of lengthening the life span to 100 years, usually failing to recognize that in doing so we would double or treble the number of mouths each worker would have to feed.

What will the 1951 census have to to say about this?

First, it will show that the average Canadian of 1951 is 10 to 11 weeks older than was the average Canadian of 1941. Average Canadian age in 1881 was 24.7 years. It rose steadily to 30.4 years in 1941 and will be 30.6 years in 1951. The increase in birth rate has held the average age down and the 1941-51 jump of only two tenths of a year is one of the smallest Canada has experienced.

In 1881 persons 65 and up comprised 4% of Canada’s population. By 1921 it had risen only to 4.8%. Since then the growing number of Canadians surviving into old age gained rapidly until by 1941 6.7% of Canadians were over 65; in 1951 it’s expected to be about 7.8% . Meanwhile, the under-20 group has remained about the same —approximately 37.5%;. Thus, Canada will still have about 55 workers and 45 non-workers in every 100 of population, only a 1% change since 1941. At that rate we can wait until at least the year 2000 before Canada’s ageing population becomes a serious worry.

There’ll be good census news too for girls with hope chests. Manhunting is more promising than ever. Canada had a 1941 surplus of 415,086 unmarried males over unmarried females— one of the few countries of the world with such a situation. Today the surplus of single men is believed higher

than ever. DBS estimates it at 461,800.

Census enumerators are going to find that Canadian housewives are becoming more gadget-minded. DBS household equipment surveys in 1948 and 1949 show that Canadians since 1941 have been buying radios at a fast clip. But they’ve been hanging on to their dollars when it comes to buying refrigerators and vacuum cleaners.

In 1941 78%; of Canadian homes had radios. Wartime prosperity and perhaps better programs put radios into 93% of homes by 1949. Radio salesmen have had a bonanza in Quebec. In 1941 it was the second lowest area in percentage of homes with radios (69% in the Maritimes, 71% in Quebec). Today Quebec has more radio-equipped homes than any other province—96%. The Maritimes, at 89% is still trailing. CBC officials say Quebec has become Canada’s most radio-conscious province because for one thing industrial expansion has swelled luxury spending.

The vacuum cleaner and mechanical refrigerator still have a long way to go before they catch up with radio. Homes with vacuum cleaners increased from 25%, to 32% between 1941 and 1948, refrigerators from 20% to 29% .

A Nose Is Worth Eight Cents

There will be interesting census information on the “gadget personalities” of Canadian cities. For example Victoria has one of the highest proportions of radio-equipped homes in Canada, but it has Canada’s smallest percentage of homes with washing machines. The reason is that Victoria’s retired couples are faithful patrons of the Chinese laundry. Quebec City has a radio in practically every home (98%) but apparently does its housecleaning by broom; only Hull, Que., and Sydney, N.S., have fewer vacuum cleaners.

The 1951 census will begin June 1 and be completed in a week or two. Answers will be sought as of midnight May 31. A baby born one minute after midnight June 1 will bave to wait until 1961 before he becomes a statistic. The 18,000 enumerators are recruited and trained during the six months before the census. Permanent DBS representatives in Canadian cities act as supervisors in their districts.

Enumerators are paid around eight cents for every name, the rate being a cent or two higher in rural areas where the coverage must be slower. Farmers, students, clerks and schoolteachers compose the backbone of the census-taking army. Each covers from 600 to 800 names in rural districts, from 1,200 to 1,800 in cities, and earns from $80 to $150. 'Total census cost will be around $9 millions.

A basic population questionnaire will be filled out for every person. You will be asked questions covering marital status, age, schooling, religion, place of birth, occupation, earnings and a few other points.

A housing questionnaire will be filled out on a sampling basis at every fifth household. This will cover number of rooms, type of dwelling, lighting, heating and cooking equipment, household conveniences.

If you are a farmer the enumerator will have a special set of 191 questions for you. Most of these will be asked at every farm but a few' detailed queries will be saved for every fifth farm only.

There will also be a special questionnaire for business places, and three others dealing with the blind and deaf, commercial fisheries and irrigation.

Don’t throw the dishwater in the enumerator’s face. He’s got a thankless job but a very essential one. And don’t be afraid to tell him the truth,

for there’s a blanket of secrecy around | the census organization so tight it makes the Iron Curtain look like a | picket fence. Enumerators, clerks and ! DBS executives are sworn to secrecy. Information about individuals or firms is guarded as painstakingly at DBS headquarters as silver dollars at the Royal Mint a few blocks up Sussex Street.

It took two and a half years to sort out and compile the 1941 census information. This census the compiling ¡ will be completed in about one and a half years, thanks to electronic machines which will read a special electricity-conducting ink on the census cards and whiz through mountains of statistics.

Electronic brains will even detect and toss out cards on which enumerators have made errors. Typical of 60 different inconsistencies which the machines will spot are persons under ¡ 21 listed as World War II veterans, women listed as locomotive engineers | or some other masculine occupation.

In spite of all these scientific wonders, the old census headaches will still make life miserable for enumerators and their Ottawa bosses. At Chesterfield Inlet, 1,000 miles north of Winnipeg, an enumerator will have to make the same perilous boat trip through 100 miles of Hudson Bay ice floes that Leland Elmer Corey, J.P., made in 1941 to reach the Eskimo settlement of Tavani. A Moosonee Indian agent once again will have to tuck his census cards into his canoe and paddle up the Abitibi in search of ! Johnny Jump-up, a Cree whose where¡ abouts was last known eight months J ago. And at Ottawa an embarrassed I enumerator will ask Louis St. Laurent if he ever went to school.

Electronics or no electronics, there will still be the greying dowager, aged 50 and then some, who when asked j “Age, please?” will murmur, “Thirtyfive.” There will still be the immigrant j who came to Canada as a child and has j long since forgotten where he was born.

Census planners will have their usual headaches with persons who have their | own ideas about what the census should ask. One cat lover thought DBS should count Canada’s cat population to determine how many we could safely export to Britain to replace cats killed in the blitz.

Framing questions to avoid misunderstanding and antagonism is a ticklish job. “Racial origin” has been changed simply to “origin” in the 1951 census because some members of Canada’s minority groups saw a stigma in the word “racial” which made them reluctant to answer. “ Mother tongue” has been changed to “the language this person first spoke in childhood” because many interpreted it as meaning the language spoken by their mother, i

The 1951 census will disclose one other fact about our population, the experts are sure. It will prove that, contrary to belief, men lie about their ages just as much as women.

“Look here,” said Dr. O. A. Lemieux, head of the census division, as he produced age statistics of the 1941 census. “There were 155,000 persons I aged 38, 138,000 aged 39, 153,000 aged j 40 and 139,000 aged 41. There is no reason for that fluctuation. We know j it can’t be true. The explanation is many persons remain 38 until they become 40, then they stay 40 until they are 42, and so on. In all countries where censuses are taken, persons over ¡ 35 have a tendency to cluster at the j even numbers when reporting ages.

“When you break those figures down into male and female,” Lemieux continued, “there is the same discrepancy for both sexes. Men aie just as bad j as women at lying over their ages.” 1