The 1861 Census of Nova Scotia, available on-line,  is a goldmine of information about our province 150 years ago.  In 330 pages, Honourables Archibald, McCully and Annand leave nothing uncounted or unsummed. Lunatics, Lutherans, Boats, Oats, Alewives, Widows - you name it and it's enumerated, and accurately totaled.

To my mind, there are few surprises.  On the whole, Nova Scotia seems very prosperous so many years ago.  Probably the most striking difference lies in the age structure.  In 1861 the distribution is a classic for an expanding population.  In 2011, it is a classic for a contracting population:
"A population pyramid that comes in at the bottom. The population is generally older on average, as the country has long life expectancy, a low death rate, but also a low birth rate. This pyramid is becoming more common, especially when immigrants are factored out, and is a typical pattern for a very developed country, a high level of education, easy access to and incentive to use birth control, good health care, and few negative environmental factors." - Wikipedia

4679 People died in 1860

 In this chart showing 70 ways to die, we can see the lack of public health improvements like vaccinations and the threat of Tuberculosis.  A mere 26 Cancer deaths are under 'Uncertain'.

I'm still sorting out 21 locations for ambiguous names like 'Caledonia' and 'Sherbrooke'.  Overall, 240 places are named and the basics are plotted here:

The total population in 1861 was 330,857.  Today it's 940,592 - a 284% increase in 154 years - 1.84%/year simple interest.  From 1851 to 1861 the rate of increase was 19.8%.  You can see growth is uneven. Cape Breton, Halifax and Kings are the only counties that have net percentage growth.  Sydney County is today's Antigonish County.

Guysborough, Inverness, Richmond and Victoria lost absolute numbers as well as percent:

And again where we were from in 1861.

Two activities dominated the economic life of Nova Scotia:

The distinction between boats and vessels must be that boats are carried on vessels - dories and schooners, and that the number of men must roughly equal the number of boats.  This seems a problem in Lunenburg County - maybe 'Men Employed' accounts for on-shore work.  The Honorables lament the decline of fish and celebrate the increase of the fishery.

Religion is definitely a geographical phenomenon with echoes to the present:

A couple of charts on the 5,927African Nova Scotians.  The count:

And a heatmap to give an impression of their distribution:

Comments? wcreedh@gmail.com