About the IRC Census, 1877

The 1877 Indian Reserve Commission (IRC) census data was taken to support the findings of the federal-provincial commission enquiring into the reserve lands of British Columbia. The IRC was attempting to assign Indian reserves in British Columbia based on the land requirements of the Indian people living in various communities. Okanagan people themselves were often opposed to, or uncooperative with, the census taker and results therefore may be underestimated. Census data from this source is in some cases dependent upon the dates and presence of people to be enumerated. For instance, in the Okanagan and Spallumcheen areas the census was taken in August during the harvest period. While working on the harvest, subjects of the census would have been spread over a space of four or five miles and would have been difficult to enumerate. At the Head of the Lake the visit of the commissioners also coincided with the salmon fishery activities and therefore not all members of the community would have been available for enumeration.

This particular census material is valuable for the economic information it contains. While the Commission reported for the most part on material property, such as livestock and agricultural implements, some limited personal information including family size was recorded. Comments of the enumerators are included.

Living Landscapes