TITLE: Statistics Canada

ACCESS: http://www.statcan.ca

Statistics Canada is both Canada's national statistical agency and the name of their government run web site. Its mission is to "collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information of virtually every aspect of the nation's society and economy." Statistics Canada comes in both English and French versions, the home page giving you your choice of language. After choosing one, the welcome screen gives you many more choices, including Daily News, the 1996 Census, the locationi of its Service Centres, and basic Canadian statistics on the economy, land, people and government. Navigation tools include both a search engine and a site map.

One of the major features of the site is a page updated daily, called appropriately, "The Daily." The Daily is an electronic version of Statistics Canada's official release bulletin, first published in 1932. The Daily consists of both statistical data highlights and lists of recently published documents. For example, the one I viewed had reports on the earning characteristics of "two partner families" and estimates of principal field crop production. It is interesting to note that the Canadian government gathers statistics on both husband-wife families and common-law families. Another interesting fact is that the number of women earning more than their male partners has risen steadily since 1967, represented graphically in a gif rendered table. A catalogue number was also given so that you may order the document (for a fee), either online or by mail. Other publications may be ordered (again, for a fee) in either Adobe Acrobat format or in paper.

The search engine offered by Statistics Canada may be used to explore the entire web site or selected databases, such as The Daily, Information on Products and Services (IPS) catalogue, Research Papers and more. I tried a search in the Research Papers section on "grizzlies", "bears", and then finally "wildlife." I retrieved zero results on "bears" and "grizzlies." "Wildlife," however, gave me a listing of 14 ranked results, one of which was a table listing the prairie population of Grizzlies as being extinct. This came up only because the source of the document was the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Statistics Canada uses the Excite for Web Servers as its search engine. This search engine claims to "search for documents that are a best match for the words in your query." For narrowing your results you "simply use more words in your query," the opposite of what we boolean searchers have been taught. Personally, I have never trusted these kinds of search engines and think they tend to claim more than they actually produce. For example, my search on "grizzlies" didn't produce the document that had "Grizzly Bears" in it. You can still use boolean operators, however, to formulate a query.

Statistics Canada is an extremely vital source of Canadian information and should always be considered by those looking for both current and archived governmental statistical reports. Its "Daily" publication makes it not just a repository for government documents, but a current source of information to anyone interested in Canada's land, economy, and people.

Jim Rible
Southern Oregon University Library
rible@sou.edu
August 1997


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