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Population of Canada by province and territory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Map of Canadian provinces and territories by population. .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  >10 million  5 million to 10 million  1 million to 5 million  500 thousand to 1 million  100 thousand to 500 thousand  <100 thousand
Map of Canadian provinces and territories by population. Legend:
  >10 million
  5 million to 10 million
  1 million to 5 million
  500 thousand to 1 million
  100 thousand to 500 thousand
  <100 thousand

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories. The majority of Canada's population is concentrated in the areas close to the Canada–US border. Its four largest provinces by area (Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta) are also (with Quebec and Ontario switched in order) its most populous; together they account for 86% of the country's population. The territories (the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon) account for over a third of Canada's area but are home to only 0.3% of its population, which skews the national population density value.

Canada's population grew by 5.0% between the 2006 and 2011 censuses.[1] Except for New Brunswick, all territories and provinces increased in population from 2011 to 2016. In terms of percent change, the fastest-growing province or territory was Nunavut with an increase of 12.7% between 2011 and 2016, followed by Alberta with 11.6% growth. New Brunswick's population decreased by 0.5% between 2011 and 2016.

Generally, provinces steadily grew in population along with Canada. However, some provinces such as Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador experienced long periods of stagnation or population decline. Ontario and Quebec were always the two biggest provinces in Canada, with over 60% of the population at any given time. The demographic importance of the West steadily grew over time, while the importance of Atlantic Canada steadily slipped. Canada's population has increased every year since Confederation in 1867: see List of population of Canada by year


Population Name[1] Population,
2016 Census
Land area
(per km2
House of
2020 population
(Q3 est.)[2]


Total Proportion Total Proportion Total Proportion
1  Ontario 13,448,494 38.26% 4.6% 908,699.33 14.8 121 35.8% 14,734,014 38.77% 9.56%
2  Quebec 8,164,361 23.23% 3.3% 1,356,625.27 6.0 78 23.1% 8,574,571 22.56% 5.02%
3  British Columbia 4,648,055 13.22% 5.6% 922,503.01 5.0 42 12.4% 5,147,712 13.55% 10.75%
4  Alberta 4,067,175 11.57% 11.6% 640,330.46 6.4 34 10.1% 4,421,876 11.64% 8.72%
5  Manitoba 1,278,365 3.64% 5.8% 552,370.99 2.3 14 4.1% 1,379,263 3.63% 7.89%
6  Saskatchewan 1,098,352 3.12% 6.3% 588,243.54 1.9 14 4.1% 1,178,681 3.10% 7.31%
7  Nova Scotia 923,598 2.63% 0.2% 52,942.27 17.4 11 3.3% 979,351 2.58% 6.04%
8  New Brunswick 747,101 2.13% −0.5% 71,388.81 10.5 10 3.0% 781,476 2.06% 4.60%
9  Newfoundland and Labrador 519,716 1.48% 1.0% 370,514.08 1.4 7 2.1% 522,103 1.37% 0.46%
10  Prince Edward Island 142,907 0.41% 1.9% 5,686.03 25.1 4 1.2% 159,625 0.42% 11.70%
11  Northwest Territories 41,786 0.12% 0.8% 1,143,793.86 0.04 1 0.3% 45,161 0.12% 8.08%
12  Nunavut 35,944 0.10% 12.7% 1,877,778.53 0.02 1 0.3% 39,353 0.10% 9.48%
13  Yukon 35,874 0.10% 5.8% 474,712.68 0.08 1 0.3% 42,052 0.11% 17.22%
Total Totals 35,151,728 100% 5.0% 8,965,588.85 3.9 338 100% 38,005,238 100% 8.12%

Population growth rate

Map of Canadian provinces and territories by population growth rate (2016).   5.0% - 10.0%   10.0% - 15.0%  > 15.0%
Map of Canadian provinces and territories by population growth rate (2016).
   5.0% - 10.0%
   10.0% - 15.0%
  > 15.0%

Current provinces and territories population growth rate are based on the Statistics Canada 2016 Census of Population.[3]

Rank Province/Territory 2016 Census 2011 Census Change
1  Nunavut 35,944 31,906 +12.66%
2  Alberta 4,067,175 3,645,257 +11.57%
3  Saskatchewan 1,098,352 1,033,381 +6.29%
4  Yukon 35,874 33,897 +5.83%
5  Manitoba 1,278,365 1,208,268 +5.80%
6  British Columbia 4,648,055 4,400,057 +5.64%
7  Ontario 13,448,494 12,851,821 +4.64%
8  Quebec 8,164,361 7,903,001 +3.31%
9  Prince Edward Island 142,907 140,204 +1.93%
10  Newfoundland and Labrador 519,716 514,536 +1.01%
11  Northwest Territories 41,786 41,462 +0.78%
12  Nova Scotia 923,598 921,727 +0.20%
13  New Brunswick 747,101 751,171 −0.54%
Total  Canada 35,151,728 33,476,688 +5.00%

Demographic evolution

Historical population

Ontario and Quebec have been the two most populated provinces since Confederation.
Ontario and Quebec have been the two most populated provinces since Confederation.

The population of Canada increased every year since Confederation in 1867.[4] The first national census of the country was taken in 1871, and it covered the four provinces part of Canada at the time.[5] It recorded a population of 1,620,851 in Ontario, 1,191,516 in Quebec, 387,800 in Nova Scotia and 285,594 in New Brunswick [6] The population of each of these provinces continued to grow every year uninterrupted. However, their growth was slow in the late 19th century because there were few economic opportunities. As a result, many Canadians opted to emigrate in the United States for work.[7]

This phenomenon hit Quebec especially hard. Approximately 900,000 Quebec residents (French Canadian for the great majority) left for the United States between 1840 and 1930.[8][9] However, Quebec's population losses to emigration during this period were largely offset by its natural population growth. Indeed, until the middle of the 20th century, Quebec had a birth rate considerably higher than most of its contemporary industrialized societies.[10] This period of high French-Canadian population growth is nicknamed La Revanche des berceaux.[11]

Pamphlet advertising for immigration to Western Canada, c. 1910
Pamphlet advertising for immigration to Western Canada, c. 1910

Population growth in the Northwest Territories, and then the Western Provinces, picked up when the Canadian government passed the Dominion Lands Act in 1872 to encourage the settlement of the Canadian Prairies, and to help prevent the area from being claimed by the United States.[12] The act gave a claimant 160 acres (65 ha) for free, the only cost to the farmer being a $10 administration fee. Any male farmer who was at least 21 years of age and agreed to cultivate at least 40 acres (16 ha) of the land and build a permanent dwelling on it (within three years) qualified.[13] The population of the Canadian prairies grew rapidly in the last decade of the 19th century, and the population of Saskatchewan quintupled from 91,000 in 1901 to 492,000 to 1911.[14] The vast majority of these people were immigrants from Europe.[13]

Early counts of Northwest Territories' population tend to exclude in indigenous inhabitants of the territory.[6] The territory's population drops at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries are due to its reduction in size, as Yukon, then Saskatchewan and Alberta were carved out of its territory, and the same with Nunavut a century later. Yukon's population spike at the turn of the 20th century is due to the Klondike Gold Rush, when an estimated 100,000 people tried to reach the Klondike goldfields between 1896 and 1899, of whom only around 30,000 to 40,000 eventually did.[15]

Generally, provinces steadily grew in population along with Canada. However, some provinces experienced long periods of stagnation or population decline. After peaking in 1891, Prince Edward Island's population started to decline every year until 1941, after which the province started growing again. In Saskatchewan, after a rapid population explosion at the beginning of the century that propelled the province to being the 3rd largest in the country, its population declined during the Great Depression, and its growth had been slow ever since. From 1931 to 2016, Saskatchewan's population raised by only 19.2%, well below the national average. Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, experienced slow but continuous growth until the 1990s, when the cod fisheries collapsed, and their population started to fall.

After the collapse of the Canadian birth rate, most provinces now sustain their population with immigration from the developing world. The number of new immigrants increases every year.[16]

Historical population growth by province/territory[17][6][18][19][20]
Flag of Ontario.svg
Flag of Quebec.svg
Flag of Nova Scotia.svg
Nova Scotia[23]
Flag of New Brunswick.svg
New Brunswick[24]
Flag of Manitoba.svg
Flag of British Columbia.svg
British Columbia[26]
Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg
Prince Edward Island[27]
Flag of Saskatchewan.svg
Flag of Alberta.svg
Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg
Newfoundland & Labrador[30][31]
Flag of the Northwest Territories.svg
Northwest Territories[32]
Flag of Yukon.svg
Flag of Nunavut.svg

Demographic weight of provinces and territories

The demographic weight of each provinces in Canada has always constituted a sensitive issue. In 1840, the Durham Report recommended that Upper and Lower Canada be united into one province. The newly created Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada was required to have equal representation from Canada East and Canada West,[35] even though the population of Canada East was considerably larger. In 1840, the population of Canada East was estimated at 670,000, while the population of Canada West was estimated to be 480,000.[36] Lord Durham had not recommended this approach, and had instead proposed that the representation should be based on the respective populations of the two regions.[37] The British government rejected that recommendation and instead implemented sectional equality, apparently to give the English-speaking population of the new province a dominant voice in the provincial government.

However, the 1851 census revealed that Canada West's population had surpassed Canada East's. This fact fueled demands in Canada West for the end of sectional equality and the move toward allocating seats in the legislation on the basis of population, nicknamed "rep by pop". This was a hotly contested issues at the constitutional conferences leading up to confederation, and the colonies reached a comprise in which the seats in the federal lower house(House of commons) would be allocated by population, and the seats in the federal upper house(Senate) would be allocated on the basis of Regions —Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes— that would each have 24 seats.[38]

Throughout Canada's history, Ontario and Quebec were always Canada's two biggest provinces. However, their combined demographic weight decreased from over 80% upon Confederation to just over 60% in 2016. The Atlantic provinces also lost importance within Canada, from around 20% upon confederation to under 7% today. The West's importance, however, has only increased, from insignificant levels in 1971 to over 30% of the country in 2016. In the first half of the 20th century, the largest western province was Saskatchewan, but its population was later eclipsed by Alberta and British Columbia.[6][39]

The issue of the demographic weight of each provinces came up during the negotiations for the Patriation of the Constitution, and especially discussions around the amending formula of the constitution. The final formula stipulates that minor changes to the constitution had to be approved by the Parliament of Canada and the Legislature of 7 provinces representing at least 50% of the Canadian population. The essentially meant that either Ontario or Quebec had to agree to any constitutional amendments that affect all provinces.[40]

Quebec had managed to maintain a stable demographic weight within to Canada during the first half of the 20th century due to its high birth rate. However, their importance began to slip as their birth rate started to fall in the 1960s.[41] Quebec wanted to make it up through immigration, and for this purpose created its Ministry of Immigration in 1968, and negotiated for increased powers in this field with the federal government. However, new immigrants to Canada disproportionally go the Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, fueling their rise in demographic weight.[42] In response, a Canada–Québec Accord was concluded in 1991 which, among other things, guaranteed Quebec an immigration rate proportional to its demographic weight in Canada.[43] This provinsion was not fulfilled, as in 2005, immigration to Quebec represented only 16.5% of all immigration to Canada.[44]

Quebec also attempted to maintain its weight within the Canadian House of Commons during the constitutional negotiations of the early 1990s. Under the Charlottetown Accord, in exchange for Quebec losing Senate seats under a Triple-E Senate (dropping from 24 to 6), Quebec was guaranteed never to be allotted less than 25% of the seats in the House of Commons. The Accord was ultimately defeated in a public referendum.[45]

  British Columbia
  New Brunswick
  Newfoundland & Labrador
  Northwest Territories
  Nova Scotia
  Prince Edward Island
Historical demographic weight of provinces and territories

See also

Population centres by provinces and territories


  1. ^ a b "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, 2016 and 2011 censuses – 100% data". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  2. ^ "Table 051-0005: Estimates of population, Canada, provinces and territories". Statistics Canada. March 19, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  3. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics (8 February 2017). "Census Profile, 2016 Census".
  4. ^ "Estimated population of Canada, 1605 to present". Statistics Canada. 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  5. ^ "History of the Census of Canada". Statistics Canada. 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d Series A2-14. Population of Canada by province, census dates, 1851 to 1976
  7. ^ "Emigration The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  8. ^ Bélanger, Damien-Claude (23 August 2000). "French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840–1930". Québec History, Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College. Archived from the original on 25 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-31.
  9. ^ Bélanger, Claude. "Emigration to the United States from Canada and Quebec, 1840–1940". Quebec History. Marianopolis College. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Québec: dénatalité et immigration". Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  11. ^ Colombo's Canadian References, Oxford University Press, 1976, p.444.
  12. ^ Lambrecht, Kirk N (1991). The Administration of Dominion Lands, 1870-1930.
  13. ^ a b "Dominion Lands Act | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  14. ^ The history of Saskatchewan's population Archived 2006-05-19 at the Wayback Machine from Statistics Canada
  15. ^ Berton, Pierre, 1920-2004. (2001). Klondike : the last great gold rush, 1896-1899 (Rev. ed., Anchor Canada paperback ed.). Toronto: Anchor Canada. p. 396. ISBN 0-385-65844-3. OCLC 46661521.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ "Canada Expected To Take In More Than One Million New Immigrants Between 2020-2022 | Link Newspaper". Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  17. ^ Belshaw, John Douglas (2015). "10.2 Demographics". Canadian History: Pre-Confederation. BCCampus.
  18. ^ "2006 Community Profiles - 2006 Canada Census". Statistics Canada. 2006.
  19. ^ "2011 Census Profiles". Statistics Canada. 2011.
  20. ^ "2016 Census profiles". Statistics Canada. 2016.
  21. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Ontario". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  22. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Quebec". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  23. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Nova Scotia". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  24. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - New Brunswick". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  25. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Manitoba". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  26. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - British Columbia". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  27. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Prince Edward Island". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  28. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Saskatchewan". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  29. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Alberta". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  30. ^ "Census of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1935, vol. 1 : population by districts and settlements :: NL Books - Reference Sources, Directories, Etc". Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  31. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Newfoundland and Labrador". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  32. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Northwest Territories". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  33. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Yukon". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  34. ^ "Population urban and rural, by province and territory - Nunavut". 2008-05-01. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  35. ^ Union Act, 1840, s. 12.
  36. ^ "Province of Canada (1841-67)", Canadian Encyclopedia.
  37. ^ Lord Durham's Report, pp. 323-324.
  38. ^ "Rep by Pop | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  39. ^ "Census profiles, 2016 census". Statistics Canada.
  40. ^ "Patriation of the Constitution | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  41. ^ "Chapitre 2: Naissances et fécondité". Le bilan démographique du Québec: Édition 2019. Quebec city: Institut de la statistique du Québec. 2019. p. 36.
  42. ^ "Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity Highlight Tables". Statistics Canada. 2016.
  43. ^, Zone Politique -. "Il y a 50 ans, le Québec se dotait d'un ministère de l'Immigration". (in French). Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  44. ^ Annual Immigration by Province Archived 2006-10-07 at the Wayback Machine, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, URL accessed 2 July 2006
  45. ^ "Charlottetown Accord | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2020-03-30.
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