May 16, 2017 8:00 am
Updated: May 16, 2017 9:13 am

The changing face of Canada, from 150 years ago to today

3-year-old Sam Kashfi watches the annual Canada Day parade in Montreal in 2015. The current Canadian population skews much older, with more people over 65 than under 14.

Graham Hughes/Canadian Press/File
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In 150 years, the people who make up Canada have changed quite a bit. They’re older, more urban, more diverse — and there are a lot more of them than there were in 1867. Here’s a look at how the Canadian population has changed.

1. Canada’s population has grown tenfold since Confederation

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It’s worth noting, however, that there were only four provinces at Confederation. However, the figure given for 1861’s population above comes from the Census of British North America and it includes Upper Canada, Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland (which had a census in 1858.)

2. We’re older than ever before

Back in 1867, 54 per cent of men and women were between the ages of 15 and 64. In 2016, that had grown to 67 per cent of men and 66 per cent of women.

In the age pyramid below, you can see that in 1871 (the red line) Canada’s population was much younger than in 2016.

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2016 was the first time in census history that there were more people over 65 than children under 14, according to Statistics Canada.

3. Immigration has massively increased

It’s not at the highest level ever, though. That was in 1913, when 400,900 people immigrated to Canada in one year.

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4. One in five people in Canada were born in another country

The proportion of people born abroad today is not as high as in the 1920s and 1930s, however.

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5. We’re much more urban than we used to be

Back in 1871, not long after Confederation, most Canadians lived in rural areas. Now, more than 80 per cent of Canadians live in metropolitan areas and towns with a core of at least 10,000 people, according to the 2016 census.

At Confederation, Montreal was Canada’s largest urban centre. Toronto took first place in 1976.

In 1871, Victoria was the largest city in Western Canada, with a population of about 3,000 people, according to Statistics Canada.

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