August 27, 2015 11:41 am
Updated: January 29, 2016 10:25 am

Calgary, not Ottawa, was Canada’s Ashley Madison capital


It turns out Canada does, in fact, have an Ashley Madison capital – and it’s Calgary, not Ottawa.

Over 6,400 people living in Calgary’s T2- and T3-series postal codes put money on an account on Ashley Madison, which specialized in linking up people who want to cheat on a spouse, or .61 per cent of the population.

READ MORE: Divorce expert ‘not surprised’ Calgary was Canada’s Ashley Madison capital

That’s the highest rate we could find in any Canadian city. Burlington, Ont. came second, at .58 per cent, and Edmonton third, at .54 per cent.

One Calgary residential complex had six fee-paying Ashley Madison subscribers, all men, living in different units.

Fee-paying Ashley Madison members: Alberta »

Fee-paying Ashley Madison members: Alberta

Ashley Madison across Canada
(Percentage of the population spending money on Ashley Madison)

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Among provinces and territories, Alberta led Canada for fee-paying Ashley Madison accounts, measured in proportion to population, followed by the Yukon.

The data comes from postal code information associated with credit cards used to pay for services on the site.

On Feb. 19, the startling news that the dating site was more popular in Ottawa than anywhere else in Canada, according to data made available by the company itself.

With nearly 200,000 Ashley Madison subscribers, it seemed that the nation’s capital was a seething hotbed of adultery – something not suspected before, at least in public.

The Ottawa Citizen struggled to take the number seriously, pointing out that there were only 200,000 married or common-law couples in the city in the first place. However, the Citizen did observe that Ottawa boasted “a disproportionate number of dominatrixes for a city of its size,” and “the highest per capita number of burlesque troupes in North America.”

There the matter rested, more or less, until hackers released a vast trove of data, covering millions of accounts at the service, last week.

Other Canadian discoveries in the data

In the Greater Toronto Area, fee-paying Ashley Madison subscribers concentrate in Burlington and Oakville. In the 416 area code, they cluster in downtown postal codes with lots of condos, and also in established high-income neighbourhoods in the city’s midtown: Rosedale, Leaside, Moore Park, Lawrence Park.

Fee-paying Ashley Madison members: Ontario »

Fee-paying Ashley Madison members: Ontario

Global’s analysis eliminated bad data where possible – 1,839 people listed their address as Ashley Madison’s corporate office in Toronto. We took these lines out of the data to avoid distortion, but it’s harder to track down individuals with multiple accounts. (One Montreal man appears to have had 30 separate accounts, registered at different points between 2009 and 2014, all of which he spent money on.)

The data includes detailed postal code information taken from the credit cards of people who paid money to use the site – men had to buy, then spend, credits to contact women. While site users could use pseudonyms on their public profiles, their credit cards had to be real, and only a small minority of members went to the trouble of using burner cards.

And Ottawa? As best we can determine with poor-quality data, about 9,500 people at least claiming to be in Ottawa registered Ashley Madison accounts, about a quarter of whom ended up spending any money on the service.

Avid Live Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison, did not respond to a request to comment on the discrepancy.

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