Canadian demographics

Dan Scott <>


Canadian Census of Population

Census 2016 home page

  • "A statistical portrait of the country"
  • Every 5 years (quinquennial!)
  • Most recently in 2016
  • 100% of households surveyed:
    • 75% short-form survey
    • 25% long-form survey

Short form data

  • date of birth and age
  • sex
  • relationships of household members
  • knowledge of official languages
  • language spoken most often
  • other language spoken regularly
  • first language learned

Long form data

  • Everything from the short form, plus:
  • activities of daily living
  • sociocultural information
  • mobility
  • place of birth
  • education
  • labour market activities
  • housing

Income data

  • Drawn from 2015 personal income tax and benefits information
  • Way more accurate than self-reported income

Data granularity

Aggregated by geographic area: country, province,

  • census divisions (CD) - groups of municipalities
  • census subdivisions (CSD) - municipality
  • census metropolitan areas (CMA) - 100,000+
  • census agglomeration areas (CA) - 10,000+
  • dissemination areas (DA) - 400 - 700

Hands-on with the Census

Exercise: investigate the demographics of the area surrounding McGill University

That's in Montréal.





Statistics Canada GeoSearch screenshot


  1. Drill down to DA level - note the names!
  2. Click a DA for high level details (population, dwellings, area)
  3. Scroll down to Results and click 2016 Census Profile
  4. It's a wonderland of data!
Example results for DA 24663182

Filtering data

  • Default view of All data is… a lot
  • Select a view lets you filter to just one category of data
Geosearch: Select a view

Comparing geographies

  • Your selection is compared against Canada by default
  • Change geography lets you compare to province or other census dissemination area (CD, CSD, CMA, DA…
Geosearch: Compare geographies
Geosearch: Change geographies

Download the data

  • CSV is available for the compared geographies…
  • Or all DAs in a given province (these files are huge and need special processing)


SPAD librarian: Dan Scott <>

Data librarian: Tomasz Mrozewski <>