Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Banner: Browse by topic

Changing families and households

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Families today would have a hard time recognizing their counterparts from the days of Confederation. The growth of industrialization has changed the economy and families, affected every facet of family life, including age of marriage, family size and decisions to have children, education, work outside the home, old age security and even the number of families.

As the number of families grew, the average size of families shrank. Several factors influenced this: the massive migration of families from rural settings to urban centres, steadily decreasing infant mortality rates, and mothers having their first child later in life. Divorce, though much more difficult to obtain than today, became more common from 1867 to 1968. Major changes in 1968 made it much easier to get a divorce in Canada.

Education also changed considerably over this period. In 1901, the most common reasons for absence from school were the demands of planting or harvesting, illness, bad weather or the need to help support the family. By 1921, most provinces had passed laws setting a minimum amount of time that children had to attend school on a full-time basis.

Government programs to promote social security also changed how Canadian families lived. Measures introduced to help women join the workforce included public schools providing their children with transportation and after-school programs. From 1945 on, mothers received a monthly 'baby bonus' for each child under 16. The 1960s saw the introduction of the Canada and Quebec pension plans, universal health care, the Canada Assistance Plan and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. From cradle to grave, family life changed dramatically in the century following Confederation.

1917 Canada Year Book - Related tables

  1. Rural and urban population of Canada, by province and by increase or decrease in the decade, 1901 and 1911
  2. Rural and urban population of Canada, by province and sex, 1911
  3. Urban population of Canada, by size of cities and towns, 1901 and 1911

1927 Canada Year Book - Related tables

  1. Dwellings and family households, by provinces, 1881 to 1921

1947 Canada Year Book - Related tables

  1. Conjugal condition of the population, 15 years of age or older, by sex, census years 1911 to 1941
  2. Numbers of buildings, dwellings, households and families, and average numbers of persons per dwelling, per household and per family, by province, 1941
  3. Numbers of buildings, dwellings, households and families, and average numbers of persons per dwelling, per household and per family, for urban centres of 30,000 population or over, 1941
  4. Rural and urban populations, by provinces and territories, census years 1911 to 1941
  5. Summary of profit statistics for 709 industrial companies, 1936 to 1945
  6. Urban populations, by size-of-municipality groups, census years 1921 to 1941

1967 Canada Year Book - Related tables

  1. Brides, by age and marital status, 1964
  2. Canadian life table, 1961
  3. Children living at home, by age group and by province, census 1961
  4. Dissolutions of marriage (divorces), by province, 1941 to 1965
  5. Factors in the growth of population, 1951 to 1961
  6. Families and persons per family, by province, census years 1951, 1956 and 1961
  7. Households and persons per household, by province, census years 1951, 1956 and 1961
  8. Land area and density of population, by province, census years 1951, 1956 and 1961
  9. Marriages and rates per 1,000 population, by province, with percentage distribution of bridegrooms and brides by nativity, 1941, 1951 and 1961 to 1964
  10. Mother tongues of the population, census 1961
  11. Numerical distribution of population and percentage change from preceding census, by province, decennial census years 1901 to 1961
  12. Populations of incorporated cities, towns and villages, by size group, census years 1951, 1956 and 1961
  13. Retail trade, by province and by kind of business, 1961 to 1965
  14. Rural population, by farm and non-farm, and urban population, by size group, by province, census 1961
  15. Sales of farm implements and equipment, by province and major group, 1960 to 1964
  16. Wholesale sales, by kind of business, 1961 to 1965
  17. Youth allowances statistics, by province, year ended March 31, 1966, with totals for 1965 and 1966

Related charts

  1. Annual consumption of principal foods per capita, Canada, 1956, compared with 1935 to 1939 average
  2. Average hours and earnings of male and female wage earners by major cities for the last week of October, 1956
  3. Birth, death and natural increase rates
  4. Causes of infant and neo-natal deaths, 1964
  5. Dwellings occupied in Canada and persons per dwelling, census years 1881 to 1956
  6. Infants deaths, 1956
  7. Leading causes of infant deaths
  8. Population by age group, census years 1951 and 1956
  9. Population of Canada by sex and five-year age groups
  10. Farm cash income from dairying in Canada, 1947 to 1956
  11. Trend in urban and and rural population, census years 1871 to 1956