The census geographic units of
Canada are the administrative divisions
defined and used by Canada's federal government statistics bureau
Statistics Canada to conduct the country's five-yearly census. They
exist on four levels: the top-level (first-level) divisions are
Canada's provinces and territories; these are divided into
second-level census divisions, which in turn are divided into
third-level census subdivisions (roughly corresponding to
municipalities) and fourth-level dissemination areas.
In some provinces, a census division also corresponds to a county or
another similar unit of political organization while in other
provinces, the boundaries are chosen arbitrarily as no such level of
government exists. Two of Canada's three territories are also divided
into census divisions.
1 Census divisions
2 Census consolidated subdivisions
3 Census subdivisions
4 Dissemination areas
5 Specially-defined geographic units
5.1 Census metropolitan areas
5.2 Census agglomerations
5.3 Census tracts
5.4 Population centres
5.5 Designated places
6 See also
8 External links
See also: List of census divisions of
Canada by population
Canada's second-level geographic units are called "census divisions."
In terms of size, they generally lie between the top-level
administrative divisions of the province and territory and third-level
administrative divisions such as sections, townships and ranges.
Census divisions are divided into census subdivisions (see section
Nature of Canada's census divisions by province or territory
Nature of census divisions
Census divisions consist of groups of municipalities such as cities,
municipal districts, and rural municipalities. Each census division is
Census divisions correspond with regional districts or municipalities.
Prince Edward Island
Census divisions correspond with counties.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Census divisions are delineated without reference to administrative or
other forms of division and are numbered.
Census divisions do not correspond with the administrative regions of
the Northwest Territories.
Census divisions correspond with the administrative regions of
Census divisions consist of "upper-tier" municipalities (counties,
districts, regional municipalities, single-tier cities).
Census divisions mostly correspond to regional county municipalities
or equivalent territories.
A territory treated as a single census division.
In most cases, a census division corresponds to a single unit of the
appropriate type listed above. However, in a few cases, Statistics
Canada groups two or more units into a single statistical division:
In Ontario, Haldimand
County and Norfolk
County are grouped as a
single census division, as are Brant and Brantford.
In Quebec, 93 of 98 census divisions correspond precisely to the
territory of one regional county municipality (with the addition of
Indian reserves, which do not legally belong to RCMs) or a "territory
equivalent to an RCM" (which usually corresponds to a single
independent city). However, there are five census divisions consisting
of two or three RCMs or equivalent territories each. See List of
census divisions of Quebec.
In almost all such cases, the division in question was formerly a
single unit of the standard type, which was divided into multiple
units by its province after the
Canada 2001 Census.
Census consolidated subdivisions
A census consolidated subdivision is a geographic unit between census
division and census subdivision. It is a combination of adjacent
census subdivisions typically consisting of larger, more rural census
subdivisions and smaller, more densely populated census
Census subdivisions generally correspond to the municipalities of
Canada, as determined by provincial and territorial legislation.
They can also correspond to area which are deemed to be equivalents to
municipalities for statistical reporting purposes, such as Indian
reserves, Indian settlements, and unorganized territories where
municipal level government may not exist. Statistics
created census subdivisions in cooperation with the provinces of
British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and
Nova Scotia as
equivalents for municipalities. The
Indian reserve and Indian
settlement census subdivisions are determined according to criteria
established by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Dissemination areas are the smallest standard geographic unit in
Canada and cover the entire country. As small areas, they comprise
one or more dissemination blocks and have a population between 400 and
Specially-defined geographic units
Census metropolitan areas
See template below for links to census metropolitan areas by size.
A "census metropolitan area" (CMA) is a grouping of census
subdivisions comprising a large urban area (the "urban core") and
those surrounding "urban fringes" with which it is closely integrated.
To become a CMA, an area must register an urban core population of at
least 100,000 at the previous census. CMA status is retained even if
this core population later drops below 100,000.
CMAs may cross census division and provincial boundaries, although the
Gatineau metropolitan area in
Quebec is the only
one that currently crosses a provincial border.
The methodology used by Statistics
Canada does not allow for CMA-CMA
mergers into larger statistical areas; consequently, there is no
Canadian equivalent to the Combined Statistical Areas of the United
Canada has stated that Toronto,
Oshawa and Hamilton
could be merged into a single CSA were such an approach utilised.
Canada has described the
Greater Golden Horseshoe
Greater Golden Horseshoe as the
country's largest urban area.
See also: List of Canadian census agglomerations by province or
territory and List of metropolitan areas in Canada
A "census agglomeration" (CA) is a smaller version of a CMA in which
the urban core population at the previous census was greater than
10,000 but less than 100,000. If the population of an urban core is
less than 50,000, it is the starting point for the construction of a
CMAs and CAs with a population greater than 50,000 are subdivided into
census tracts which have populations ranging from 2,500 to 8,000.
"Population centre" redirects here. For other uses, see Center of
See also: List of the 100 largest population centres in Canada
A population centre (PC), formerly known as an urban area (UA), is any
grouping of contiguous dissemination areas that has a minimum
population of 1,000 and an average population density of 400 persons
per square kilometre or greater. For the 2011 census, urban area
was renamed "population centre". In 2011, Statistics Canada
identified 942 population centres in Canada. Some population centres
cross municipal boundaries and not all municipalities contain a
population centre while others have more than one.
The population centre level of geography is further divided into the
following three groupings based on population:
"small population centre" – 1,000 to 29,999
"medium population centre" – 30,000 to 99,999
"large urban population centre" – 100,000 and greater
Main article: Designated place
A "designated place" (DPL) is usually a small community that does not
meet the criteria used to define incorporated municipalities or urban
areas (areas with a population of at least 1,000 and no fewer than 400
persons per square kilometre), but for which Statistics
Canada or a
provincial government has requested that similar demographic data be
A "locality" (LOC) is a historical named location or place. The named
location may be a former census subdivision, a former urban area, or a
former designated place. It may also refer to neighbourhoods, post
offices, communities and unincorporated places among other
Census divisions by province and territory
Census division statistics of Canada
Census divisions of Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario,
Counties of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Regions of Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut
Regional county municipalities of Quebec
Regional districts of British Columbia
Standard Geographical Classification code
County (United States)
^ Statistics Canada. "Illustrated Glossary: Census Geography".
^ Sometimes used for municipal organization or as health regions.
^ "Census consolidated subdivision (CCS)". Statistics Canada.
2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
^ a b "Census subdivision (CSD)". Statistics Canada. 2010-06-14.
^ "Interim List of Changes to Municipal Boundaries, Status, and Names"
(PDF). Statistics Canada. April 2011. p. 7&8. Retrieved
^ "More information on Census subdivision (CSD)". Statistics Canada.
2011-04-04. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
^ a b "2006 Census Dictionary: Dissemination area (DA)". Statistics
Canada. 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
^ "Defining and Measuring Metropolitan Areas: A Comparison between
Canada and the United States". Statistics Canada. 2008-11-17.
Retrieved 2014-05-19. ...application of the American combination
criteria could result in the consolidation (combining) of the CMAs of
Oshawa and Hamilton with the
^ "2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006:
Subprovincial population dynamics". Statistics Canada. Retrieved
2014-07-11. In 2006, nearly half of all Canadians, 13.9 million
people, were living in the country's three largest urban areas: the
Montréal census metropolitan area, the Vancouver census metropolitan
area, and the
Greater Golden Horseshoe
Greater Golden Horseshoe in southern Ontario.
^ Sancton, Andrew. "Canadian Local Government: An Urban Perspective"
Pp. 74. Oxford University Press, 2011.
^ a b c "Population centre (POPCTR)". Statistics Canada. 2011-05-05.
^ "Preview of Census Products and Services: Highlight tables".
Statistics Canada. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
^ Sancton, Andrew (2011). Canadian Local Government: An Urban
Perspective. Canada: Oxford University Press. p. 73.
^ "2006 Census Dictionary:
Designated place (DPL)". Statistics Canada.
2009-11-20. Retrieved 2011-12-22.
^ "2006 Census Dictionary: Locality (LOC)". Statistics Canada.
2009-11-20. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
Reference maps for census divisions at Statistics Canada.
Hierarchy of census geography
Census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in
Canada by size
Quebec City, QC
St. Catharines-Niagara, ON
St. John's, NL
Greater Sudbury, ON
Thunder Bay, ON
Saint John, NB
Census divisions of
Canada (by province or territory)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Articles on second-level administrative divisions of North American
List of administrative di