In 1975, Reginald Bibby carried out a national mail survey of Canadian adults from York University in Toronto, where he was serving as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology, following his graduation from Washington State University. This one-shot survey, bearing the innocuous title of "Project Canada," evolved into a series of national surveys conducted every five years from 1975 through 2005. While no survey was conducted in 2010, the adult surveys may resume in 2015.
These pioneering surveys have had samples of approximately 1,500 people each. But what has been particularly novel is that each sample has been comprised of (1) people from previous surveys as well as (2) new participants. As a result, the surveys have simultaneously produced cross-sectional, trend, and panel data.
The adult surveys have been complemented by national surveys of teenagers that were completed in 1984, 1992, 2000, and 2008.
The Project Canada Adult Surveys
This "Project Canada" survey research program has permitted the monitoring of Canadian social trends since the infamous 1960s.
Together, these surveys have provided unparallelled cross-sectional, trend, and intergenerational readings on social trends in Canada. The surveys have also been yielding panel data: each new adult sample has included a core of people who participated in one or more of the previous surveys.
Bibby smiles as he recalls a friendly critic complementing him on his pioneering surveys a few years ago by saying, “They’re great! It just goes to show you don’t have to best – you just have to be first!” His surveys represent a first, in that they go back to a time when few current pollsters apart from Gallup were on the scene. But they also represent a first in their scope – providing comprehensive readings on Canadian life which, when combined with their youth survey component, makes them unusually valuable, and certainly among the best available survey research sources for examining social change.
The major funding sources for the Project Canada Surveys have been the Lilly Endowment, the Louisville Institute, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, The Secretary of State, and the University of Lethbridge.
The seven adult surveys have each had samples of approximately1,500 people, weighted down to about 1,200 cases tominimize the use of large weight factors. Conducted by mail with return rates of roughly 65%, they have yielded high-quality data. The samples are highly representative of the Canadian adult population and are of sufficient size to be accurate within about three percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times in 20.
The 2005 Project Canada survey was carried out between approximately the end of July and the end of November of 2005. A total of 2,400 people participated, including a special Centennial Year oversample of some 500 extra Albertans. For purposes of national analyses, the sample has been weighted down to a highly representative national sample of 1,600 cases, permitting generalizations to the Canadian population that are accurate within about 2.5 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times in 20.
With the help of highly respected sociologist and pollster Angus Reid, key items from the surveys are being repeated that will provide something of a simulated Project Canada 2015 - resulting in 40 years of trend data.
The Project Teen Canada Youth Surveys
As mentioned, the Project Teen Canada national surveys have been carried out in 1984, 1992, 2000, and 2008. These four surveys have explored the attitudes, values, beliefs, behaviour, and expectations of Canadian young people between the ages of 15 and 19. These surveys have probed a wide variety of topics, consistent with the primary research goal of obtaining comprehensive information on Canadian youth. Among the areas being examined are values, sources of enjoyment, social attitudes, personal and social concerns, perceived sources of influence, sexuality, relationships, spirituality, hopes and expectations, and the impact of technology generally and the Internet specifically.
The 1984 and 1992 PTC surveys were carried out with youth culture expert Don Posterski. In 2000 and 2008, James Penner brought considerable exprience and expertise to the project in similarly serving as the Associate Director.
Together, the Project Canada youth and adult surveys the findings are extremely helpful in enabling observers to gain a clearer understanding of the influence of social and culture change on individual Canadians, young and old, as well as the country as a whole.
A major area of interest in recent years has been the impact of the legacy of the Baby Boomers, notably the accelerated levels of both change and choice. The Boomer Factor: What Canada’s Most Famous Generation is Leaving Behind (2006) examines the society that Boomers have played a major role in creating. The Emerging Millennials (2009) summarizes and interprets the findings from the 2008 survey, in light of information also gained from earlier readings of teenagers and dults. But it also focuses specifically on how today’s teenagers are dealing with “what is being left behind,” as reflected in the subtitle - How Canada’s Newest Generation is Responding to Change and Choice.
In the mid-1980s, highly regarded Professor Kenneth Westhues of the University of Waterloo made the observation that "Bibby is assembling a national treasure.” Some 25 years later, his "prophecy" - based on only the first three adult surveys - has been borne out.
It is important that people be able to tap into that treasure. And so, as they become available, the detailed codebooks providing all of the survey items and item by item results are being posted on this website, along with the raw data sets in SPSS-usable form.
All that is asked is that the source of the data be acknowledged when it is used publicly: Reginald W. Bibby, "Project Canada 1975 survey," etc. or, where multiple surveys are used, "Reginald W. Bibby, Project Canada Survey Series."
We hope that you find the findings and data to be interesting, informative, and stimulating!