Acadian-Micmac Censuses of 1871, 1881 and 1891
The following census material was taken from the Ph.D. thesis, “Change in the Real Property Law of a Cape Breton Island Micmac Band, Volume 2” by Daniel P. Strouthes. This work is a study of the land tenure systems of a band of Mi’kmaq in Cape Breton but it also provides a rich and comprehensive ethnography of a people.
[Important Note by Yvon: I have only included those names which may be Acadian and/or French-Canadian].
Fortunately, part of the research Strouthes had done involved census data which he obtained and analyzed from the Public Archives of Canada in Ottawa. There may be some discrepancies in the data, as Strouthes indicates in his Introduction. For example, a number of Mi’kmaq may have been omitted, being outside the physical range of the census takers; language problems and spelling inaccuracies resulted in distortion of names (such as reversal of first and last names). Ages may also be inaccurate, either because the Mi’kmaq did not stress chronological age or because census takers used their own judgement to determine ages (e.g. some people are listed as younger in 1881 than in 1871!). The literacy and educational level is also subject to inaccuracy, since many Mi’kmaq of the late nineteenth century while fluent in the Mi’kmaq language were not so in English. Therefore, it is possible that many Mi’kmaq referred to as illiterate were illiterate in English only. Similarly people described as literate in Mi’kmaq may have been taken to be literate in English as well. Information on dwellings may refer to wigwams as either wigwams or shanties and seems accurate, though Mi’kmaq in Sydney in the 1881 census were referred to as having houses while the 1891 data indicates the same dwellings were shanties (wigwams).
With these cautions in mind, please use the following census information. For ease of use, place names are written in full rather than abbreviated. These census records are an invaluable resource tool to anyone interested in genealogy or the social life and customs of the Mi’kmaq in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
I am very grateful to Diane Chisholm and the Mi’kmak Resource Centre for having provided me authorization to post the following information.