Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Best census since 1666"

Statistics Canada is celebrating this year's census as "the best since 1666."  Actually that first-ever Canadian census set a pretty low bar.

The official count of New France was 3215 on the 1666 census ordered by Jean Talon.  But the historian Marcel Trudel was so dubious about the accuracy of the census that he built one of his own from parish records, notaries' files, official correspondence, and whatever else came to hand, and was able to establish the presence of 4219 people in the colony at the time, meaning the official guys only got a 76% response rate. (The 2016 rate: 98.4%)

Statistics Canada is not saying what proportion of 2016 respondents consented to have their data preserved for historical usage a century from now -- following the contemptible and philistine decision to make historical preservation of the census record into a popularity contest. Only three-quarters of the people were counted in 1666, but 350 years later, we can still read about all of them.
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