Terms defined here were used by the original enumerators of the Census of Canada in 1871 in completing spaces on the schedules for “kind of industrial establishment”, “kind of raw material”, “kind of product”, and also for units of measurement. Most of the terms describe commodities, processes or occupations in quite mundane language. Charming exceptions are the “intelligence, art and energy” named as raw materials of the Canadian Illustrated News and “cleanliness” given as the product of a Montreal laundry. The glossary contains only terms in the English language. Please note also the CANIND71 French-English Dictionary for terms encountered on the French-language schedules.

William Mulligan has noted: “a language barrier can stand between us and those whose lives and experiences we seek to study and understand” in the preindustrial and early industrial eras. “The specialized language of the shop, the mill and other everyday settings often appears initially familiar, yet, upon closer examination, is foreign to the meanings we know for the same words” (A Historical Dictionary of American Industrial Language, ix). There must have been national and regional variations in industrial language as well, as a good many terms we found in use in Canada in 1871 were not defined with the same meanings in contemporary American or English dictionaries. Different terms for the same commodities or processes were also apparently used from place to place within Canada .

We acknowledge the contributions of Janine Grant and Barbara Sibley who identified terms while coding data from census manuscripts and phrased preliminary definitions. Jane Turner completed the task and prepared the Glossary for print publication, which included some contemporary illustrations.


Oxford English Dictionary

Mulligan, William H. A Historical Dictionary of American Industrial Language, New York : Greenwood Press, 1988.

Simmonds, P.L. The Commercial Dictionary of Trade Products, Manufacturing and Technical Terms, London : Routledge, 1883.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, Merriam: 1971.


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