Canadian Census Workshop

CITY 7410

Today we will cover:

  • Census geography
  • How to access census data, both current and historic
  • Using Beyond 20/20 software

Census Geography

  • Census Division (23 in MB)
  • Census Subdivision



  • Dissemination area

Largest area

Smallest area

  • Census Metropolitan area
  • Census Tract

Stats Canada Homepage:

Census subdivisions can be:

  • reserves
  • rural municipalities
  • towns
  • villages
  • etc

The City of Winnipeg is a census subdivision

Winnipeg and Headingley together make up Census Division #11

The area surrounding Winnipeg is included in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area

Census Metropolitan Areas are divided into Census Tracts.


Census tracts are a level of census geography commonly used when researching large cities.


Census tract geography changes over time due to population thresholds.

Accessing Census Data

  • Stats Can website:
  • Census in top menu
  • Further down that page:

Data Products

A variety of data products & visualizations are available. Most of the easy-to-use options provide data for large levels of geography - country-wide, province- or territory-wide, city-wide.

  • Census Profiles: provide data describing a single variable
    • useful for quick fact checking

To access census tract data:

IVT = multidimensional table file

for use with Beyond 20/20 software

Getting Started with

Beyond 20/20

Key terms:

  • dimension: an attribute of table data, such as sex, geography, time, etc. Tables can have up to 10 dimensions.
  • item: an element of a dimension. E.g. Female is an item of the sex dimension.
  • label: a title or display heading of an item. An item may have multiple labels: e.g. census tract #, geographic ID #...


  • Census profile (population & more)
  • Sex
  • Geography - not active in image below

Click & drag dimension names to view values in the table

Geography is now the active dimension (name highlighted in black, name visible in drop-down menu)

The Search tool can be used to skip to the geography of your choice

The first column of Winnipeg (602) data is a summary total of all of Winnipeg's census tracts

Right-click column label > Show All

to see neighbouring rows

A few more B2020 tips:

  • Selecting columns or rows:
    • Click & drag to select nearby adjacent items
    • CTRL + click for non-adjacent items
    • To select a large range, click first item, SHIFT + click last item
  • In top menu, Item > Show to see only selected items
  • File > Save As - export as an Excel worksheet, CSV, etc

Finding a specific census tract #:

Finding Historical Census Data

Census tracts were trialed in 1941; boundaries changed for 1951 onwards

Even more historical census tract data

Mapping with Spatial Files

2001 - 2016 shapefiles available via StatsCan website

Older boundary files

Scholars GeoPortal

  • Browse > Census and administrative boundaries (95)
  • Search for "tract" to find census tract files going back to 1951

More on working with census data in B2020:

Working with Census 2011 Data [PDF] - still relevant for 2016 data

  • Getting more data dimensions at census tract level (e.g. family structure - common-law couple families, lone-parent families, male-parent families...)

More on finding historical census data:

Census of Canada Report Locator (1851-1996), by Gary Strike

CITY 7410 Census Workshop

By Ellen Tisdale

CITY 7410 Census Workshop

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