Ottawa Housing Statistics, 1961

An unnamed census enumerator poses for National Film Board cameras in 1961 at the Carleton Lodge. Image: Rudi Wolf / National Film Board / Library and Archives Canada, Acc. 1971-271 NPC, Box 85, Item 96768 (e011177427).

One of the more important sources I have relied on to gain some type of impression of the state of housing in the Ottawa area is, unsurprisingly, the Census. Although not immune to critique, Census data, even at the worst of times, has been a useful source to raise further questions, develop leads, and find new and interesting ways to reframe our understanding of just what it meant at various times to take, produce, regulate, manage, maintain, improve, demolish, and – darn it – actually enjoy shelter.

Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Lewis, visited by a census-taker. Image: Rudi Wolf / National Film Board / Library and Archives Canada, Acc. 1971-271 NPC, Box 85, Item 96763 (e011177426).

To that end, I’ve transcribed information related to housing characteristics in Carleton County, the Town of Eastview (Vanier), and the City of Ottawa, as published in the Dominion Bureau of Statistics’ advance report from the 1961 Census dated September 11, 1962.1Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Advance Report No. AH-1: Summary Housing Characteristics. Ottawa: Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Sept. 11, 1962. The data has been reformatted to fit better into the design of this website and I took the liberty of adding percentages of the total for select measures to the table (identified in italics).

Specified Housing Characteristics for Counties and Urban Centres of 10,000 Population and Over, 1961
Locality Total Physical Characteristics
Type of Dwelling In Need of Major Repair
Single Detached Apartments, Flats
Carleton County 90,883 46,014
Eastview (t) 6,555 1,386
Ottawa (c) 70,112 31,800
Note: Totals under “Type of Dwelling” do not match the total. For the purposes of the study, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (DBS) excluded “single attached and mobile” homes. Therefore, in Carleton County, 13,181 dwellings are excluded, in Eastview, 560, and in the City of Ottawa, 11,834. Although I do not currently have access to the numbers of these two types, the number of mobile homes in Carleton County would be comparatively negligible. Most of these excluded would likely be the duplexes, townhouses, and row-housing so common in the older City of Ottawa. As Ottawa and Eastview are subsets of Carleton County, there should be 787 such dwellings in the remainder of the County (Gloucester and Nepean Townships, most notably) not counted in this study.
Physical Characteristics
Period of Construction Average Number of Rooms Crowded Dwellings
Before 1920 Since 1945
Carleton County 29,876
5.4 10,488
Eastview (t) 1,013
4.3 1,302
Ottawa (c) 25,093
5.4 7,377
Another thing not captured in these statistics are single detached homes and apartments constructed between 1921 and 1944. Although these numbers are fascinating on their own (especially the explosive growth in Eastview after the War), I’ve always been interested in what was actually constructed during the 1920s, the Depression, and the Second World War. While I’m sure that there are some important technicalities to consider that would change the numbers, I’ll just suggest that for now that between 1921 and 1944, there were 16,126 single homes and apartment constructed across Carleton County, 1,133 in Eastview, and 13,632 in the City of Ottawa. As Ottawa and Eastview are a subset of Carleton County, there should have been 1,361 such dwellings constructed in the remainder of the County (Gloucester and Nepean Townships most notably) during the period.
Sanitation Facilities
Hot and Cold Running Water Bath or Shower Flush Toilet
Carleton County 86,670 87,116 88,489
Eastview (t) 6,340 6,311 6,550
Ottawa (c) 68,373 68,858 69,795
Principal Heating Equipment and Fuel
Furnace Heating
Steam or Hot Water Hot Air
Carleton County 24,383 57,627
Eastview (t) 2,786 3,127
Ottawa (c) 20,863 43,949
Principal Heating Equipment and Fuel
Coal or Wood Oil Gas
Carleton County 8,627 78,069 3,751
Eastview (t) 202 6,249
Ottawa (c) 6,261 59,919 3,604
Living Conveniences
Mechanical Refrigerator Home Freezer Television Set Passenger Automobile
Carleton County 89,636
Eastview (t) 6,487
Ottawa (c) 69,360
Tenure, Value, Rent
Total Median Value Dwellings With Mortgages
Carleton County 47,959 $17,047 25,815
Eastview (t) 1,905 $14,962 709
Ottawa (c) 34,289 $17,655 18,961
Tenure, Value, Rent
Total Average Cash Rent
Carleton County 42,924 $90
Eastview (t) 4,650 $87
Ottawa (c) 35,823 $91

Introduction and Definitions

Advance Report No. AH-1                        9-11-62
Catalogue No. 93-509


  This report presents a summary of housing characteristics from the 1961 Census for counties and census divisions, as well as for incorporated cities, towns and villages of 10,000 population and over. Data constituting the tables of this report were derived from a 20 p.c. sample of occupied dwellings across Canada.

  More detailed information on dwellings and households will be issued at a later date as part of the regular volume series of final reports of the 1961 Census. The purpose of this advance report is to make available summary totals for the counties, census divisions, and larger urban centres at the earliest possible date. Because of sampling variation, figures under 100 are not shown.

The Dominion Bureau of Statistics offers the following operating definitions.

Dwelling. - A dwelling is defined as a structurally separate set of living quarters, with a private entrance either from the outside of the building, or from a common hall, lobby or stairway inside. The entrance must not be through anyone else's living quarters.

Types of dwellings. - The two main types shown in this report are as follows:

(a) Single detached. - Dwellings in this category are commonly called "single houses". They contain only one dwelling unit and are completely separated on all sides from any other dwelling or structure.

(b) Apartments and flats. - These include:

  (i) dwelling units in apartment blocks or apartment hotels;

 (ii) suites in duplexes or triplexes, i.e., where the division
      between dwelling units is horizontal;

(iii) suites in structurally converted houses;

 (iv) living quarters located above, on in the rear of stores,
      restaurants, garages, or other business premises;

  (v) janitors' quarters in schools, churches, warehouses, etc.;

 (vi) private quarters for families of staff members in hospitals or
      other types of institutions.

  Other types not shown separately in this report are single attached and mobile.

  In need of major repair. - Includes any dwelling in a seriously run-down or neglected condition with at least one of the following major structural deficiencies:

 (a) sagging or crumbling foundation;

 (b) faulty roof or chimney;

 (c) rotting doorsills or window frames;

 (d) interior badly in need of repair.

  Rooms. - In determining the number of rooms in a dwelling, only those rooms used or suitable for living purposes, including rooms occupied by servants, lodgers, or members of lodging families, are counted. Summer kitchens, sun-rooms, recreation rooms, attic rooms, etc., are counted as rooms only if they are finished off and suitable for year-round living quarters. Not counted as rooms are: bathrooms, clothes closets, pantries, halls, or rooms used solely for business purposes.

  "Crowded" dwelling. - For census purposes, any dwelling in which the number of persons exceeds the number of rooms occupied is classified as crowded.

  Bath and toilet facilities. - Includes "exclusive" and "shared" use.

  Mechanical refrigerator. - Includes electric and gas refrigerators.

  Value. - Based on amount expected if the dwelling were sold to a willing buyer. Figures for values and mortgages relate to owner-occupied, non-farm, single detached dwellings only. 

Rent. - Based on cash (or contract) rent paid or payable for the month of May 1961. Figures related to non-farm dwellings only regardless of type.


Notes   [ + ]

1. Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Advance Report No. AH-1: Summary Housing Characteristics. Ottawa: Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Sept. 11, 1962.