Population Density, 1851-1961


Area units:
Areas shown represent provinces/territories/colonies, and within these, census divisions and selected cities are shown.

Data units:
Census divisions and selected cities are coloured according to their population density (persons per sq km) (see Legend Description below for city selection criteria).
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.


Legend Description

Population density
Census divisions and selected cities are coloured according to their population density (persons per sq km).
Cities selected had a population of more than 20 000 people in 1961, and first appear as separate from the surrounding census division when their population became greater than 10 000. Note that when a city is shown as a separate area from its surrounding census division, the population of that city is not included in the census division population.



This folder contains layers showing census divisions coloured according to population density for the given year. Turning on one of these layers makes it the active layer, see Active Tools below for explanation.

This folder contains layers showing the province/territory/colony names for the corresponding Population by CDs layer above. Check which Population by CDs layer you have on, and click on the corresponding year in this folder to view the appropriate labels.
This layer shows Modern Geography (current provincial and territorial boundaries, as well as selected cities), and is available for reference.


Active Tools

Zoom In: Zoom in to see labels for census divisions and selected cities. Note that as you zoom in even further, the labels disappear, in order to allow a clear view of the population density data.
The active layers in this map are in the POPULATION DENSITY BY YEAR folder. Use the tools below to get data about the these layers.
Whichever layer within the POPULATION DENSITY BY YEAR folder is checked is the active layer. Use the tools below to get data about the population circles for a given layer.

Identify: Click on the Identify tool, then click on the map on one of the census divisions or selected cities, to pop up a box showing the name of the census division or city.

Table: Click on the Table tool, then click or drag a rectangle on the map across one or more census divisions/cities, to select them and pop up a table showing information about the selected census division/city. See Table Fields below.

Query: Click on the Query tool, to pop up a Query box. Use the input boxes to specify selection criteria and click "Submit query" to pop up a table showing information about the census divisions which fit the criteria. See Table Fields below.


Table Fields - Population by CDs

CD Name Census Division name (termed "Census District" before 1921), or number if unnamed
Province Code Province code: See code table below
Province Name of Province, Territory, or Colony
CD Population Population of Census Division
CD Area sq km Area of Census Division in square kilometres
CD Pop Density Population Density of Census Division in persons per sq. km.

al Alberta Alberta
bc British Columbia Colombie-Britannique
pe Prince Edward Island Île-du-Prince-Édouard
mb Manitoba Manitoba
nb New Brunswick Nouveau-Brunswick
ns Nova Scotia Nouvelle-Écosse
nu Nunavut Nunavut
on Ontario Ontario
pq Québec Québec
sa Saskatchewan Saskatchewan
nf Newfoundland Terre-Neuve
yu Yukon Territory Territoire du Yukon
nwt Northwest Territories Territoires du Nord-Ouest
tr Territories Territoires
ce Canada East Canada-Est
cw Canada West Canada-Ouest
lc Lower Canada Bas-Canada
uc Upper Canada Haut-Canada

Data files available: Population_by_CDs_1851_1961.xls