Map of Canada
Map of Canada

A population centre, in the context of a Canadian census, is a populated place, or a cluster of interrelated populated places, which meets the demographic characteristics of an urban area, having a population of at least 1,000 people and a population density of no fewer than 400 people per square km2.[1]

The term was first introduced in the Canada 2011 Census; prior to that, Statistics Canada used the term urban area.[1]

Statistics Canada listed 944 population centres in its 2011 census data; 513 of them, 54 per cent of all population centres in Canada, were located in Ontario or Quebec, the two most populous provinces.

History

The term "population centre" was chosen in order to better reflect the fact that urban vs. rural is not a strict division, but rather a continuum within which several distinct settlement patterns, and several competing interpretations of the distinction, may exist.[1] For example, a community may fit a strictly statistical definition of an urban area, but may not be commonly thought of as "urban" because it has a smaller population, or because it functions socially and economically as a suburb of another urban area rather than as a self-contained urban entity, or because it is geographically remote from other urban communities. Municipal boundaries are ignored in determining population centres and they are focused entirely on their geographic and built-up nature.

Accordingly, the new definition set out three distinct types of population centres: small (population 1,000 to 29,999), medium (population 30,000 to 99,999) and large (population 100,000 or greater).[1] Despite the change in terminology, however, the demographic definition of a population centre remains unchanged from that of an urban area: a population of at least 1,000 people where the density is no fewer than 400 persons per square kilometre.

Characteristics

A population centre does not necessarily correspond to the boundaries of a municipality or of a census division. For example, a less densely populated area within a city's municipal boundaries may not be included as part of its population centre, while areas outside the city limits that directly continue a city's urban core population may be included.

For example, the population centre of Toronto extends into neighbouring Peel Region, Halton Region, Durham Region and York Region, encompassing places such as Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket, Pickering and Ajax. Despite this, numerous other communities which are considered part of the Greater Toronto Area for political purposes are not part of the population centre of Toronto; because more rural areas separate them geographically from the primary zone of urban settlement, communities such as Milton, Georgetown, Caledon, Bolton, Nobleton, Bradford and Stouffville instead form their own separate small or medium population centres,[2] and even a portion of the city of Toronto itself, to the north and east of the Toronto Zoo in Scarborough, is excluded from the population centre as it is much less densely populated than the rest of the city.

However, the Statistics Canada definition of a population centre is that it does not cross the boundaries of a Census Metropolitan Area (CMA); even though the band of continuous urban development emanating outward from downtown Toronto along the shore of Lake Ontario extends even further into Hamilton and Oshawa, these two cities are both considered separate CMAs by Statistics Canada rather than being part of Toronto's, and accordingly each is also considered a distinct population centre.

Conversely, a single municipality may also contain more than one distinct population centre, if less densely populated or undeveloped regions separate more urbanized areas from one another. For example, Ottawa has seven distinct population centres (Ottawa-Gatineau, Constance Bay, Kanata, Richmond, Osgoode, Manotick and Metcalfe),[3] the neighbouring city of Gatineau has a secondary population centre at Buckingham in addition to its primary urban core forming part of Ottawa-Gatineau, and Greater Sudbury has eight distinct population centres (Sudbury, Azilda, Capreol, Chelmsford, Coniston, Dowling, Lively and Valley East).[4]

For actual "city limits" populations, see List of the largest municipalities in Canada by population, and for metropolitan area populations, see List of metropolitan areas in Canada.

Lists

Further information: List of North American cities by population

By population rank

Rank Population centre[5] Province[5] Size group[5] Population (2021)[5] Population (2016)[5] Change[5] Land area (km2)[5] Population density[5]
1 Toronto Ontario Large urban 5,647,656 5,433,590 +3.9% 1,829.05 3,087.8/km2
2 Montreal Quebec Large urban 3,675,219 3,528,651 +4.2% 1,382.47 2,658.4/km2
3 Vancouver British Columbia Large urban 2,426,160 2,268,864 +6.9% 911.64 2,661.3/km2
4 Calgary Alberta Large urban 1,305,550 1,240,413 +5.3% 621.72 2,099.9/km2
5 Edmonton Alberta Large urban 1,151,635 1,070,998 +7.5% 627.2 1,836.2/km2
6 Ottawa–Gatineau Ontario / Quebec Large urban 1,068,821 994,576 +7.5% 549.49 1,945.1/km2
7 Winnipeg Manitoba Large urban 758,515 712,858 +6.4% 356.99 2,124.8/km2
8 Quebec City Quebec Large urban 733,156 708,280 +3.5% 442.85 1,655.5/km2
9 Hamilton Ontario Large urban 729,560 693,362 +5.2% 356.03 2,049.2/km2
10 Kitchener Ontario Large urban 522,888 473,230 +10.5% 296.45 1,763.8/km2
11 London Ontario Large urban 423,369 384,784 +10.0% 244.97 1,728.2/km2
12 Victoria British Columbia Large urban 363,222 337,235 +7.7% 222.71 1,630.9/km2
13 Halifax Nova Scotia Large urban 348,634 317,334 +9.9% 238.29 1,463.1/km2
14 Oshawa Ontario Large urban 335,949 309,759 +8.5% 159.79 2,102.4/km2
15 Windsor Ontario Large urban 306,519 288,363 +6.3% 184.96 1,657.2/km2
16 Saskatoon Saskatchewan Large urban 264,637 245,904 +7.6% 134.63 1,965.7/km2
17 St. Catharines - Niagara Falls Ontario Large urban 242,460 229,776 +5.5% 140.59 1,724.6/km2
18 Regina Saskatchewan Large urban 224,996 214,664 +4.8% 105.61 2,130.4/km2
19 St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador Large urban 185,565 181,955 +2.0% 178 1,042.5/km2
20 Kelowna British Columbia Large urban 181,380 160,095 +13.3% 168.92 1,073.8/km2
21 Barrie Ontario Large urban 154,676 146,394 +5.7% 95.33 1,622.5/km2
22 Sherbrooke Quebec Large urban 151,157 140,300 +7.7% 102.61 1,473.1/km2
23 Guelph Ontario Large urban 144,356 132,705 +8.8% 79.57 1,814.2/km2
24 Kanata Ontario Large urban 137,118 118,308 +15.9% 62.35 2,199.2/km2
25 Abbotsford British Columbia Large urban 132,300 122,163 +8.3% 71.2 1,858.1/km2
26 Trois-Rivières Quebec Large urban 128,057 124,158 +3.1% 98.58 1,299.0/km2
27 Kingston Ontario Large urban 127,943 119,061 +7.5% 83.43 1,533.5/km2
28 Milton Ontario Large urban 124,579 101,885 +22.3% 45.2 2,756.2/km2
29 Moncton New Brunswick Large urban 119,785 109,075 +9.8% 110.73 1,081.8/km2
30 White Rock British Columbia Large urban 109,167 93,811 +16.4% 54.23 2,013.0/km2
31 Nanaimo British Columbia Large urban 106,079 96,415 +10.0% 86.76 1,222.7/km2
32 Brantford Ontario Large urban 104,413 98,250 +6.3% 62.13 1,680.6/km2
33 Chicoutimi - Jonquière Quebec Large urban 103,934 104,741 −0.8% 94.56 1,099.1/km2
34 Saint-Jérôme Quebec Large urban 100,859 91,205 +10.6% 96.97 1,040.1/km2
35 Red Deer Alberta Medium 99,846 99,773 +0.1% 65.93 1,514.4/km2
36 Thunder Bay Ontario Medium 95,266 94,767 +0.5% 76.03 1,253.0/km2
37 Lethbridge Alberta Medium 92,563 89,309 +3.6% 64 1,446.3/km2
38 Kamloops British Columbia Medium 92,442 85,702 +7.9% 74.35 1,243.3/km2
39 Sudbury Ontario Medium 92,093 88,155 +4.5% 75.79 1,215.1/km2
40 Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Quebec Medium 88,083 85,022 +3.6% 53.8 1,637.2/km2
41 Peterborough Ontario Medium 84,793 82,149 +3.2% 54.58 1,553.6/km2
42 Chilliwack British Columbia Medium 81,622 73,171 +11.5% 56.02 1,457.0/km2
43 Châteauguay Quebec Medium 75,891 71,164 +6.6% 50.48 1,503.4/km2
44 Belleville Ontario Medium 75,052 68,859 +9.0% 89.48 838.8/km2
45 Sarnia Ontario Medium 73,944 73,403 +0.7% 60.53 1,221.6/km2
46 Airdrie Alberta Medium 73,578 61,082 +20.5% 33.03 2,227.6/km2
47 Drummondville Quebec Medium 72,089 68,634 +5.0% 52.3 1,378.4/km2
48 Welland - Pelham Ontario Medium 69,302 63,011 +10.0% 57.21 1,211.4/km2
49 Fort McMurray Alberta Medium 68,002 67,123 +1.3% 52.17 1,303.5/km2
50 Prince George British Columbia Medium 67,339 66,315 +1.5% 73.9 911.2/km2
51 Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Medium 64,923 66,313 −2.1% 52.97 1,225.7/km2
52 Fredericton New Brunswick Medium 64,614 61,014 +5.9% 89.6 721.1/km2
53 Saint John New Brunswick Medium 63,447 61,152 +3.8% 70.05 905.7/km2
54 Medicine Hat Alberta Medium 63,382 63,111 +0.4% 53.2 1,191.4/km2
55 Grande Prairie Alberta Medium 63,172 62,382 +1.3% 49.74 1,270.0/km2
56 Granby Quebec Medium 62,624 59,706 +4.9% 48.39 1,294.2/km2
57 Bowmanville - Newcastle Ontario Medium 56,742 48,929 +16.0% 31.23 1,816.9/km2
58 Beloeil Quebec Medium 52,959 51,132 +3.6% 26.5 1,998.5/km2
59 Charlottetown Prince Edward Island Medium 52,390 48,054 +9.0% 57.56 910.2/km2
60 Vernon British Columbia Medium 51,896 48,425 +7.2% 51.16 1,014.4/km2
61 North Bay Ontario Medium 51,433 50,396 +2.1% 64.91 792.4/km2
62 Saint-Hyacinthe Quebec Medium 50,616 50,104 +1.0% 30.8 1,643.4/km2
63 Brandon Manitoba Medium 50,532 48,345 +4.5% 28.73 1,758.9/km2
64 Joliette Quebec Medium 49,246 46,277 +6.4% 39.03 1,261.7/km2
65 Courtenay British Columbia Medium 48,917 45,314 +8.0% 56.58 864.6/km2
66 Cornwall Ontario Medium 47,286 46,114 +2.5% 32.4 1,459.4/km2
67 Victoriaville Quebec Medium 46,322 44,735 +3.5% 35.27 1,313.4/km2
68 Woodstock Ontario Medium 46,296 40,614 +14.0% 34.41 1,345.4/km2
69 St. Thomas Ontario Medium 45,732 41,834 +9.3% 28.1 1,627.5/km2
70 Chatham Ontario Medium 45,171 43,550 +3.7% 31.21 1,447.3/km2
71 Georgetown Ontario Medium 44,058 42,326 +4.1% 25.7 1,714.3/km2
72 Salaberry-de-Valleyfield Quebec Medium 41,655 39,655 +5.0% 33.93 1,227.7/km2
73 Spruce Grove Alberta Medium 39,348 36,279 +8.5% 29.76 1,322.2/km2
74 Shawinigan Quebec Medium 38,930 38,695 +0.6% 31.77 1,225.4/km2
75 Rimouski Quebec Medium 38,708 38,478 +0.6% 27.79 1,392.9/km2
76 Bradford Ontario Medium 38,128 30,765 +23.9% 16.1 2,368.2/km2
77 Campbell River British Columbia Medium 38,108 35,440 +7.5% 33 1,154.8/km2
78 Penticton British Columbia Medium 36,893 33,899 +8.8% 25.84 1,427.7/km2
79 Prince Albert Saskatchewan Medium 36,768 35,102 +4.7% 21.37 1,720.5/km2
80 Stouffville Ontario Medium 36,753 32,634 +12.6% 14.17 2,593.7/km2
81 Sorel Quebec Medium 36,650 36,365 +0.8% 30.61 1,197.3/km2
82 Mission British Columbia Medium 36,193 33,713 +7.4% 27.23 1,329.2/km2
83 Leamington Ontario Medium 35,730 33,049 +8.1% 31.77 1,124.6/km2
84 Orangeville Ontario Medium 34,177 32,318 +5.8% 19.77 1,728.7/km2
85 Leduc Alberta Medium 33,505 29,561 +13.3% 67.43 496.9/km2
86 Orillia Ontario Medium 33,379 31,128 +7.2% 22.68 1,471.7/km2
87 Stratford Ontario Medium 32,878 31,094 +5.7% 23.3 1,411.1/km2
88 Moose Jaw Saskatchewan Medium 32,813 32,993 −0.5% 22.14 1,482.1/km2
89 Cochrane Alberta Medium 31,638 25,501 +24.1% 23.71 1,334.4/km2
90 Lloydminster Alberta / Saskatchewan Medium 31,582 31,400 +0.6% 24.43 1,292.8/km2
91 Cape Breton - Sydney Nova Scotia Medium 30,960 30,170 +2.6% 30.91 1,001.6/km2
92 Okotoks Alberta Medium 30,214 28,833 +4.8% 17.23 1,753.6/km2
93 Innisfil Ontario Small 29,464 24,277 +21.4% 23.71 1,242.7/km2
94 Timmins Ontario Small 28,874 29,331 −1.6% 18.49 1,561.6/km2
95 Saint-Georges Quebec Small 27,402 27,103 +1.1% 27.09 1,011.5/km2
96 Parksville British Columbia Small 27,330 25,364 +7.8% 27.45 995.6/km2
97 Keswick - Elmhurst Beach Ontario Small 27,145 26,999 +0.5% 16.56 1,639.2/km2
98 Fort Saskatchewan Alberta Small 26,831 23,944 +12.1% 21.85 1,228.0/km2
99 Bolton Ontario Small 26,795 26,378 +1.6% 20.71 1,293.8/km2
100 Midland Ontario Small 26,246 24,443 +7.4% 27.41 957.5/km2

By province or territory

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "From urban areas to population centres". Statistics Canada. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Map: Toronto (Population Centre), Ontario". Statistics Canada, February 1, 2012.
  3. ^ Map: Ottawa - Gatineau (Population Centre), Ontario. Statistics Canada, February 1, 2012.
  4. ^ Map: Sudbury (Population Centre), Ontario. Statistics Canada, February 1, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Population and dwelling counts: Canada and population centres". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2022.