Census records for Perth county begin in 1851, and are available for 1851 (incomplete), 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911. The information on each one varies. 1851 and 1861 asked for "Age on next birthday" but people on 1861 seemed to be giving their present age anyway. 1901 was the first to ask for "date of birth" instead of just "age," but often the date of birth given is off by a year (right day, wrong year).
1851 is incomplete as follows: these areas exist: Blanshard, Hibbert, Fullarton, Downie and Gore of Downie (incomplete), Logan, Ellice (incomplete), North Easthope, Mornington. Do not exist: South Easthope, Elma, Wallace.
As far as I know, all other census years are complete for Perth County.
Censuses are available on microfilm from the National Archives of Canada. Here's a link to the Archives' information page.
To find out what microfilm numbers to order, check the Perth County page of the Ontario GenWeb Census Project.
The 1871 census has been indexed, and this index is online. You can jump to a search page (to limit it geographically, use the Keywords field).
$ Perth County OGS is very busy right now creating indices for the other census records. The list is available on the publications list of their site (follow the link above). They sell these indices for a small fee. Please do not ask them for lookups... each index only costs a few dollars. Besides, they might get mad at me if people write and ask for lookups because of my web page!
Ontario Census records are very slowly coming online via the Ontario GenWeb Census Project. There is at least one for Perth County there already! Watch this site for more, and if you feel you can help, then please volunteer! :-)
The 1901 and 1911 census records are available as images online. There is no name index yet, so you need to scroll through each township. Links: Search the 1901 census or Search the 1911 census. Enjoy!
A mistake that I see people make when they are starting out is to place too much emphasis on the 1871 census, just because that is the one which has the index online. You should certainly start with that one, but once you find your ancestors there, you shouldn't ignore the census records for other years.
About Perth County, Ontario
Welcome to Perth County GenWeb, your online guide to Perth County Genealogy since February 1998! I am Meg Fuller, Your Coordinator for this County site.
I hope you enjoy your visit. Please email me if you have any suggestions or contributions you would like to make.
I hope you find my efforts helpful in your research of your County roots. I am unable to do additional research on your family as I do not have direct access to records. I post everything I have for all to use.
Perth County is located in south-western Ontario in about the middle of the peninsula. There are many small towns and hamlets in this area, and the largest city is Stratford. Stratford currently has a population of about 30 000. This population swells in the summer tourist season! For the most part Perth County consists of rural agricultural land. The other major industry is tourism because of the Stratford Festival.
It is one of the few counties in South-Western Ontario that doesn't touch any of the Great Lakes. Because of its location, and distance from the Great Lakes, it was one of the last areas in Ontario to be settled. People who aren't familiar with Ontario often confuse it with Perth, a city in Lanark County. If it's Perth, Lanark County you're after, or if your reference just says Perth, here's a link to the Lanark County GenWeb. But it was nice of you to visit.