This chapter combines information from the original atlases covering population in the intensive growth period of the 19th century. In all the colonies the first half of the 19th century was a time of clearing forests to make farmland, and expansion of population through large migrations. By 1871 a transcontinental Canada had been created, and this chapter follows some of the consequent population changes, to 1891. By mid-century urban development had begun and every colony had its leading urban centres. By 1891, regional centres in different parts of the country were poised to fight for supremacy nationally or regionally in the next century.

The four main maps from the original atlas plates are re-created as interactive maps of Population Distribution in 1825, 1851, 1871 and 1891. These show rural population using a dot distribution symbolization, which simulates population density as well. One can see the ecumene of the country fill up gradually over this time series. Simultaneously on these maps, urban centres are shown as proportional symbols, so the development of the urban system is illustrated.

Supporting graphs are also included: the Growth of Provinces, Growth of Cities, Urban Populations and Urban Centres during the century are all depicted. Also included is a graph of Population Pyramids for Canada in 1871 and 1891. Population pyramids are a well-known graphic form to express a demographic profile; the atlas revised the usual method to enable comparisons between various regions and censuses reporting population using different age group ranges. To allow comparisons, the horizontal bars of the pyramid are standardized to show “Relative proportion” of males and females in each age group represented.

Note: First nations people were under-enumerated in all the early censuses, especially in the West. The distribution of native people is better represented using other data sources in the section National Perspectives -> Native Canada.