Source Information

Nova Scotia Archives Nova Scotia, Canada, Census, Assessment and Poll Tax Records, 1770-1795, 1827, 1838 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Original data: Halifax Real Estate Valuation, 1775. Commissioner of Public Records collection. Series: City of Halifax, 1749–1869. RG 1, vol. 411. Nova Scotia Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

About Nova Scotia, Canada, Census, Assessment and Poll Tax Records, 1770-1795, 1827, 1838

Includes census returns from 1770-1787, 1827, and 1838, assessment records from 1786-1787, poll tax rolls from 1791-1795, and real estate valuations from 1775. This database contains only an index, however users may click on a link from the record page to view the corresponding image on the Nova Scotia Archives website, where the image can be printed or saved. While none of the collections offer complete coverage of the province, they are very valuable for documenting Nova Scotia residents during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Census Returns: The census returns recorded the head of the household, and while some are scant on details, the 1827 returns are an exception. They asked for the number of males and females in the family; number of hired labourers or male servants employed; whether engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, or commerce; religion; number of family members who were born, buried or died in the census year; number of acres cultivated; and agricultural statistics (amount of crops grown and number of livestock owned).

In the 1838 census returns, you can find the occupation of the head of household and the number of males and females within each household. Even though this is the 1838 census, you may find some records with delayed returns, all the way to 1841, due to the distance and difficulty of reaching everyone throughout the country.

Non-Census Records in the Collection:

Nova Scotia Poll Tax Rolls, 1791–1793: In 1791 in an effort to pay down the provincial debt, the Nova Scotia legislature placed a poll tax on all adult males. The amount of the tax depended on a person’s occupation and livestock owned, and legislation was amended over the years until the tax’s repeal in 1796. This collection includes an index for the years 1791–1793, and results are linked to images of the records on the Nova Scotia Archives website. The index includes the name and location for each person. Records in this collection are from the following counties:

  • Annapolis
  • Antigonish
  • Colchester
  • Cumberland
  • Guysborough
  • Halifax
  • Hants
  • Kings
  • Lunenburg
  • Pictou
  • Queens
  • Shelburne

Tax Records: Among the original records in this collection are tax-related records from the Gideon White Family Papers. Gideon White was a loyalist from Massachusetts who moved to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, during the American Revolution. He served as tax collector for a time, and tax records for the years 1786–1787 are included in the collection. They provide names and addresses of Shelburne taxpayers, occupations, and county and poor taxes owed.

Historical Background: Permanent European settlement in Nova Scotia began with the French in 1604. The area would alternate between British and French control into the next century, and war and politics would play a significant role in determining the eventual demographics of the province. Scottish settlers began arriving as early as 1621 and would become the dominant ethnic group in a province they would eventually share with the English, Irish, German, Loyalists (to the British crown) from America, First Nations, Acadian French, African Nova Scotians, and others.