Census geographic units of Canada

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The census geographic units of Canada are the country subdivisions defined and used by Canada's federal government statistics bureau Statistics Canada[1] 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.


Outline map of Canada's census divisions in 2001.

Census divisions Edit

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 below).

For Familypedia's location classification, census divisions belong in the "county" field and their "bdm" subpages should use {{bdm2}}.

Nature of Canada's census divisions by province or territory
Province/Territory Nature of census divisions
Census divisions consist of groups of municipalities such cities, counties, municipal districts and rural municipalities. Each census division is numbered.
British Columbia Census divisions correspond with regional districts or municipalities.
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
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.[2]
Northwest Territories
Territories that are divided into regions.
Ontario Census divisions consist of "upper-tier" municipalities (counties, districts, regional municipalities, cities).
Quebec Census divisions correspond with regional county municipalities.
Yukon 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 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. Both groups were formerly single units under Ontario's regional government structure, but were dissolved in 2001.
  • In Quebec, 93 of 98 census divisions correspond precisely to the territory of one regional county municipality (possibly with the addition of Indian reserves, which do not legally belong to RCMs) or a "territory equivalent to an RCM" (TÉ). However, there are five census divisions consisting of two RCMs or equivalent territories each. See Regional county municipality for further information.

Census subdivisions Edit

Census subdivisions generally correspond to the municipalities of Canada. They include unorganized territories and the Indian reserves and settlements determined by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Census metropolitan areasEdit

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" and "rural 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. They do not, however, cross the Canada-United States border.


A CMA may be consolidated with adjacent census agglomerations (CAs; see below) if they are closely integrated, to produce a grouping known as a "consolidated census metropolitan area" (CCMA). The component CMA and CAs are then described as the "primary census metropolitan area" (PCMA) and "primary census agglomeration (or agglomerations)" (PCA or PCAs).

CMAs may not be consolidated with each other.

Census agglomerationsEdit

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.

Census tractsEdit

CMAs and CAs with a population greater than 50,000 are subdivided into census tracts which have populations ranging from 2,000 to 8,000.

Dissemination areas Edit

See also Edit

Census divisions by province

Footnotes Edit

External links Edit

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