The 2001 Census Cars

When you’re trackside, watching a train roll by, sometimes a car will catch your eye. Sometimes it’s a fallen flag like the Rock Island. Here in Canada – or the US – sometimes you will see a “census car”.

The 2001 Census of Agriculture

DCLX 7550 in Dufresne, MB, March 2020
DCLX 7550 in Dufresne, MB, March 2020

A census is an official count of population or other measures. When Canada was formed in 1867, the British North America Act stated that a census would be taken every 10 years. Over time, it was determined that a more frequent census would be required. Starting in 1896, a separate Census of Agriculture was taken every 5 years in Manitoba, and in Saskatchewan and Alberta starting in 1906.

The Census of Agriculture is different than the general population census. It has different questions and is processed by different groups within Stats Canada.

You can read the actual 2001 results here. One thing I noted was that in the 5 years since the 1996 census, the number of farms in Canada had declined by 10%… not surprising, given the evolution of farming from small family farms to large industrial operations.

The Rail Cars

DCLX 7490 at "LEAP" on the CN Rivers subdivision, June 2017
DCLX 7490 at “LEAP” on the CN Rivers subdivision, June 2017

These cars have the text “CENSUS Count Yourself In! May 15 RECENSEMENT Soyez du nombre! le 15 mai” (bilingual, of course) with a stylized 2001 logo over the giant word AGRICULTURE. In small print at the bottom is the Canadian government flag mark with “STATISTICS CANADA”.

The 2001 logo was originally in multiple colours – red, yellow and green. These have faded away over time.

All of the cars were made by National Steel Car and owned by Dow Chemical, and have the reporting mark DCLX. They are covered hopper cars carrying granulated plastic.

I am not sure who decided it would be worthwhile to paint a number of hopper cars with an advertisement for the census. I find it strange that the agricultural census was advertised on non-agricultural cars!

DCLX 8119 in Winnipeg, March 2019
DCLX 8119 in Winnipeg, March 2019

Here is a table of rail cars I have personally seen or found photos of that feature the Census logo and lettering. Note that not all cars in the series DCLX 7146-DCLX 8189 have the Census logo!

Reporting MarkSighted ByLink to Photo
DCLX 7146Gerry FitzpatrickCanadian Freight Car Gallery
DCLX 7150Jim J.Flickr
DCLX 7275Keith ArmesRailcarphotos
DCLX 7286John SchmelingRailcarphotos
DCLX 7289Steve BoykoIn this post
DCLX 7314R. McCallayFlickr
DCLX 7343Ed CookeCanadian Freight Car Gallery
DCLX 7344Skip GatermannRailcarphotos
DCLX 7352Mike RujakRailcarphotos
DCLX 7355Wyatt HeilmanRailcarphotos
DCLX 7377David GrahamCanadian Freight Car Gallery
DCLX 7379Thomas SteblyRailcarphotos
DCLX 7415True2DeathFlickr
DCLX 7435Hidden ImagesHiddenimages
DCLX 7448UnknownTrainweb
DCLX 7450Ken SzokRailcarphotos
DCLX 7482Peter BieberRailcarphotos
DCLX 7490Steve BoykoIn this post
DCLX 7514Hidden ImagesHiddenimages
DCLX 7550Steve BoykoIn this post
DCLX 7568Chris van der HeideCanadian Freight Car Gallery
DCLX 7571Mike RujakRailcarphotos
DCLX 7581Keith BelkRailcarphotos
DCLX 8020Robin ThomasRailcarphotos
DCLX 8026Roger LeitnerRailcarphotos
DCLX 8045Grahame MorrisCanadian Freight Car Gallery
DCLX 8047Keith BelkRailcarphotos
DCLX 8056John DerlerCanadian Freight Car Gallery
DCLX 8096Steve BoykoIn this post
DCLX 8107(anonymous)Flickr
DCLX 8119Steve BoykoIn this post
DCLX 8133R. McCallayFlickr
DCLX 8172Collin ReinhartRailcarphotos
DCLX 8176Hidden ImagesHiddenimages
DCLX 8189Keith BelkRailcarphotos
Table of known Census cars

If you have more car numbers that you’ve seen, please let me know!

DCLX 8096, second Census car on a train at LEAP in June 2017
DCLX 8096, second Census car on a train at LEAP in June 2017

These cars are common enough that Walthers has made an HO scale model of them, in three different road numbers: DCLX 8022 and a “two-fer” of DCLX 8186 and DCLX 8065. They are out of production.

If you have any more information on the Census cars, please comment!

Other Census Cars

While doing the research for this post, I came across this photo by Michael Berry featuring a CN ex Government grain hopper. It has a green and white sticker advertising the 1996 census! Something else to look for!

Just One More Thing

I was in Riding Mountain National Park for a few days this past week, on a family “stay-cation” (I hate that word). We had a very nice relaxing time in Wasagaming by Clear Lake, and the weather was delightful. I even spent a few hours revisiting grain elevators in the area one morning, which was also nice.

Just outside the park is Poor Michael’s Book Shop, which has a great selection of books and other items. I bought the book Trails to Rails: The History of Railroading in Minnedosa and read it while sitting on the beach.

(I receive a small commission if you buy anything on Amazon using my links, at no extra cost to you)

It was appropriate to read that in Riding Mountain as Minnedosa is not that far away and is still a very active railway town, as the crew change point between the CP Minnedosa and CP Bredenbury subdivisions on Canadian Pacific’s northern main line. The town is in a river valley and the line in and out of the valley feature some of the steepest grades remaining on CP’s main lines.

The book is basically a collection of articles and short biographies of people involved in forming and operating the railroads around Minnedosa, Manitoba.

The book was produced by Minnedosa Heritage Inc. to support the restoration of the CP station in Minnedosa. What’s happening with that station deserves a post of its own… it has been messy.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the book. It has a lot of facts and first hand accounts of the railway in the area and is valuable to any student of Manitoba’s railway history. Buy it on Amazon.

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