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

WATCH ABOVE: It turns out Canada does have an Ashley Madison capital and it’s Calgary. Global’s Erika Tucker reports.

CALGARY  – A Global News analysis of Ashley Madison data suggests Calgary, not Ottawa, is Canada’s Ashley Madison capital. The news that Calgarians were most likely to use the site, which specialized in linking up people who want to cheat on a spouse, was “not that surprising” to one local divorce expert.

“We have a lot of talk throughout the year around affairs and infidelity,” said CEO and founder of Fairway Divorce Solutions Karen Stewart. “We see a big spike over Stampede, probably that’s trickling into the fall and to the next year.

“Oftentimes where you find higher economies where there’s a lot of disposable income—a higher level of disposable income—you have a higher incidence of divorce, and often those are triggered by affairs. So it kind of all make sense, unfortunately, being that I’m a Calgarian.”

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Global News analysis found over 6,400 people living in Calgary’s T2- and T3-series postal codes put money on an account on Ashley Madison, which is equal to .61 per cent of the population—the highest rate we could find in any Canadian city.

Fee-paying Ashley Madison members: Alberta »

Fee-paying Ashley Madison members: Alberta

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

Stewart said while one extreme that spurs an increase in divorce is when the economy is doing very well and there’s a lot of excess money, another is when things are bad economically.

“We’re experiencing that now,” she said. “So you kind of get those two bookends, and Calgary being a very volatile economy by nature, is susceptible to those two bookends.”

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.

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Burlington, Ont. came second, at .58 per cent, and Edmonton third, at .54 per cent.

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

Stewart said since the data leak, she’s seen an increase in “walk-ins” in Calgary, which she said was unusual since people are usually contemplating divorce before visiting her office. She said she’s also seeing a number of calls from people who believe their spouse is on the list.

“If you suspect that your spouse could be on that list this is a time not to react –it’s actually a time to take a deep breath and be very methodical about how you are going to process and move through this,” she said. “Maybe if that person is on the list, then try counseling, try talking to someone before you make the decision to actually walk down the road to divorce –because once you do that, it’s really hard to turn back.”

WATCH: The CEO of Ashley Madison’s parent company is stepping down in the wake of the massive data breach that rocked the website. Global’s Melissa Ramsay reports.

Stewart said surviving infidelity takes commitment from both sides to rebuild trust. She said full disclosure is often the best way to do that: showing your partner your emails and phone messages, for example. She said many couples aren’t in a place where they want to do that or emotionally can do it, but that it is possible.

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She also emphasized the data leak should be taken with a grain of salt.

“The issue with Ashley Madison is we don’t know—whether or not just because you were a member of the site—does that actually mean there was any infidelity? We don’t even know if some of those names are actually accurate – whether people were using other people’s names. So I think we have to be very cautious.”

– With files from Patrick Cain