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Dominion Bureau of Statistics

Dominion Bureau of Statistics: A History of Canada's Central Statistical Office and Its Antecedents, 1841-1972

David A. Worton
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Dominion Bureau of Statistics
    Book Description:

    During the Bureau's history Canada has developed from a country dependent on a staple economy to a mature industrial power poised at the brink of the information era. Information needs have mushroomed in both quantity and complexity; at the same time the technology for gathering, compiling, analysing, and disseminating information has been revolutionized. Worton looks at how Canada's statistical system has coped with these tremendous changes and outlines some notable Canadian contributions to the science and production of statistics.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6680-4
    Subjects: Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. xvii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE 1841-1867: Statistics in the Province of Canada
    (pp. 3-14)

    In 1841, following the Durham Report, the Province of Canada was formed by the union of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, which were subsequently known as Canada West and Canada East until, after Confederation in 1867, they became Ontario and Quebec. The new province was in the process of transformation from a staple economy, based on the fur trade, to an agricultural economy using European immigrants to settle virgin lands. During the 1840S, however, there were no public departments with responsibility for these and related functions, and consequently no obvious locus for the collection and analysis of the...

  6. CHAPTER TWO 1867-1905: Dominion Statistics after Confederation
    (pp. 15-36)

    In the division of functions between the Dominion and the provinces, the British North America Act of 1867 allocated “the Census and statistics” to the Dominion.¹ The draft of the act considered at the Quebec conference on Confederation in October 1864 had mentioned only “the Census.” R.H.Coats, architect of Canada’s present-day statistical system, speculated that the addition of “statistics” was most probably due to the influence of Taché.² Both the timing and impact of Taché’s 1865 memorial support this view. In any case, the Act was unambiguous as regards the census, for it specified that a general census of the...

  7. CHAPTER THREE 1892-1912: New Statistical Mandates and New Players
    (pp. 37-58)

    Canadian economic development flourished for a few years after Confederation, but by the mid 1870s the country was in the grip of a depression that persisted for more than two decades, with only temporary relief in the early 1880s. The climate of budgetary restraint that the depression engendered was not conducive to new government initiatives, and this was no doubt an important reason for the reluctance or inability of the Department of Agriculture to undertake statistical work other than the conduct of decennial censuses.

    In the mid-1890s, however, the economic barometer began to look more favourable, and the first decade...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR 1912-1918: The Years of Change
    (pp. 59-80)

    The year 1912 was a watershed in the history of official statistics in Canada, not least because it brought onto the stage the new minister of Trade and Commerce, George Eulas Foster. The portfolio was a natural focus for all the imperatives towards statistical reform that had been emerging during the previous two decades. Foster’s previous cabinet experience as minister of Finance between 1887 and 1896 gave him a ready-made understanding of the issues and - most crucially - he was to serve in Trade and Commerce continuously for almost ten years. Thus, his vision, commitment, and political authority were...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE 1918-1939: The Dominion Bureau of Statistics - Putting Its Programs in Place
    (pp. 81-114)

    The early postwar years were ones of high achievement for the fledgling Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Building on the nucleus inherited from the Census and Statistics Office, the organizational framework outlined in “A National System of Statistics for Canada” was put in place through transfers from other departments and the creation of new branches. As the framework took shape, existing programs were strengthened and elaborated, and new ones undertaken. In 1923 Coats summarized this progress as follows:

    1) The Census (decennial and quinquennial) has been reorganized.

    2) A national scheme of vital statistics has been established.

    3) The monthly and...

  10. CHAPTER SIX 1918-1939: The Bureau’s Battle for Status
    (pp. 115-128)

    Between 1922 and 1926 successive changes in various administrative procedures and reporting relationships between the bureau and the departmental hierarchy in Trade and Commerce brought about a serious deterioration in the bureau’s status - already regarded by Coats as unsatisfactory-and consequently in its ability to carry out the mandate assigned to it. This state of affairs was not fully resolved for some four decades, but it exercised such a persistent and pernicious influence during the interwar years that it warrants special attention here.¹

    It had its origin with Coats’s response in the spring of 1915 to Foster’s suggestion that he...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The 1930s: The Bureau’s Quest for Professional Recognition
    (pp. 129-158)

    The bureau’s struggle for separate administrative status during the interwar years, dominant though it may have seemed at times among Coats’s preoccupations, was essentially subordinate to the parallel quest for professional recognition. Without such recognition, the achievement of administrative independence would have been a hollow victory. During Coats’s tenure as Dominion statistician, neither was in fact realized, but the bureau’s continuing subordination to the Department of Trade and Commerce probably did little to impede progress towards its professional coming of age. That was to be dependent upon completely different considerations, principally the development of a sophisticated user community.

    This began...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT 1918-1939: The Bureau’s Role in the Development of an International Statistical Community
    (pp. 159-178)

    Before the First World War, Canada and the other self-governing Dominions had no separate status under international law, which regarded them as colonial extensions of the mother country. However, their insistence on a say in the direction of the war effort commensurate with their contributions to it led to the establishment of an Imperial War Cabinet and the holding of an Imperial War Conference in 1917, which acknowledged, largely at the initiative of Canada’s Robert Borden, that the Dominions were “autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth.”¹

    Subsequently, they became separate signatories of the Treaty of Versailles and members in their...

  13. CHAPTER NINE 1939-1942: The Closing Years of the Coats Era
    (pp. 179-204)

    Coats’s service of more than a quarter century as Dominion statistician began and ended while Canada was at war. After his appointment in mid-1915, the Census and Statistics Office conducted the 1916 census of the Prairie provinces, annualized the census of manufactures, undertook some work for wartime agencies such as the Canada Food Board and the Fuel Controller, and, towards the end of the war, participated in a national registration exercise. But given the office’s small size and rudimentary development, its potential for assisting the wartime bureaucracy was limited.¹ In any case, it is doubtful how well equipped the latter...

  14. CHAPTER TEN 1942-1945: Cudmore’s Tenure as Dominion Statistician
    (pp. 205-216)

    Sedley Anthony Cudmore had served as Dominion statistician for not quite four years when he died suddenly in October 1945. Nevertheless, he was a key transitional figure in the bureau’s history. On assuming office in January 1942, Cudmore’s immediate challenge was to continue serving the wartime bureaucracy, taking on additional temporary responsibilities and strengthening regular programs in certain areas. The appetite of the war machine for statistics was such that other departments and agencies, notably the Department of Munitions and Supply and the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, had also begun to collect and analyze statistics. This was a cause...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN 1945-1956: The Marshall Years I: Preparing to Meet the Challenges of the Postwar Decade
    (pp. 217-238)

    Herbert Marshall’s term as Dominion statistician, which began on 18 October 1945, coincided with a decade of almost unprecedented social and economic change. Fuelled by a liberal immigration policy and accelerating birth rates, the population grew by thirty-one percent between 1946 and 1956. The industrial structure, greatly enlarged to meet wartime needs, made a smooth transition to the satisfaction of pent-up civilian demand. Gross national expenditures in constant dollars, led by a threefold increase in gross fixed capital formation, increased by sixty-eight percent, or at an annual rate of 5.4 percent. The corresponding increase in the civilian labour force was...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE 1945-1956: The Marshall Years II: Program and Related Developments
    (pp. 239-264)

    The salient program development of the Marshall years was the construction of what later became known as the System of National Accounts. Some parallel developments in areas such as income size distributions and population projections are also addressed in this chapter.

    The decennial census of 1951 embodied significant developments, both substantive and methodological, in Canadian census taking and marked a sharp departure from the more gently evolutionary tradition of the Coats era. Marshall was further responsible for the first mid-decade census of the whole of Canada, conducted in 1956 and subsequently repeated every ten years. In addition, the bureau was...

  17. CHAPTER THIRTEEN 1957-1972: The Duffett Years I: Administrative and Infrastructure Developments
    (pp. 265-286)

    Walter Elliott Duffett took office as Dominion statistician on 1 January 1957 at the age of forty-six and served until 30 June 1972-a term longer than those of his two predecessors combined. He was the first outsider to head the bureau but had worked closely with its senior staff as well as with many of the user departments and was well versed in the statistical politics of the postwar era.

    A native of Gait, Ontario, he was educated at the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics, and he had served as an economist with the Sun Life...

  18. CHAPTER FOURTEEN 1957-1972: The Duffett Years II: Program and Related Developments
    (pp. 287-308)

    The accident of timing exposed Walter Duffett to four censuses during his fifteen years as Dominion statistician. He inherited the residual tasks of the quinquennial census of 1956-final tabulations and the analysis and dissemination of findings - continued with the censuses of 1961 and 1966, and concluded with the planning, conduct, and preliminary tabulations of the decennial census of 1971. This latter was the most complex and expensive undertaking to date in Canadian census history. Apart from their informational value, Duffett’s censuses were also important vehicles for the development of new statistical methodology.

    Achievements in the bureau’s other programs were...

  19. EPILOGUE 1972-1995
    (pp. 309-316)

    The preface to this history explained why I did not think it desirable, or even feasible, to pursue the story of Canada’s central statistical office beyond Walter Duffett’s retirement. Nevertheless, I am sure that many readers will feel disappointed, if not cheated, to have been left stranded in mid-1972. So, notwithstanding my reservations about the difficulties of adequately documenting subsequent events and of assessing them objectively, it may still be useful to recall briefly and tentatively how the bureau has fared during the quarter century since Duffett stepped down.

    As noted earlier, since the late 1960s there had been growing...

    (pp. 317-342)
  21. NOTES
    (pp. 343-392)
  22. Index
    (pp. 393-409)