ARCHIVED – A description of the ethnic segregation/mixing within major Canadian metropolitan areas project

City selection

The project examines immigrant and visible minority distributions in eight Canadian cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Hamilton. These cities were selected because a relatively large number of immigrants, including recent arrivals, has settled in these cities. In addition, in each of these cities the foreign-born and visible minority populations constitute a significant portion of the total population. In 2001, the composition of the immigrant and visible minority population in each metropolitan area was:

Table 1: Population Components in Major Canadian Cities, 2001
  Total Population Percent Canadian Born Percent Foreign Born Recent Immigrants (1996-2001) as Proportion of Total Foreign-born Population Percent Visible Minority
Toronto 4,647,960 55.0 43.7 20.4 36.8
Montréal 3,380,645 80.6 18.4 18.4 13.6
Vancouver 1,967,475 61.0 37.5 23.0 36.9
Ottawa – Gatineau 1,050,755 81.6 17.6 20.6 14.1
Calgary 943,310 78.3 20.9 18.4 17.5
Edmonton 927,020 81.5 17.8 12.7 14.6
Winnipeg 661,730 83.0 16.5 12.3 12.5
Hamilton 655,060 75.5 23.6 12.1 9.8

The selection of cities reflects both the size of the total and immigrant populations in each metropolitan area, and the relative significance of the foreign-born and visible minority populations. These cities are both some of the largest in Canada and also the most ethnoculturally heterogeneous. Cities, such as Québec City which has a large population (673,000), are not included in this project because they generally do not have a large foreign-born population and are not characterized by a strong degree of ethnocultural diversity.

The cities that have been retained in the project differ from each other in important ways. For example, cities in the first-tier of the Canadian urban system attract large numbers of foreign-born individuals overall and especially recent immigrants (e.g., Toronto and Vancouver). Other cities, such as Winnipeg and Hamilton, historically were important destinations for immigrants but today attract a relatively small proportion of recent arrivals. There are also cities such as Ottawa-Gatineau, in which the share that recent immigrants constitute of the total foreign-born population (20.6 percent) exceeds the relative size of the foreign-born population overall (17.6 percent). In addition, Toronto and Vancouver clearly lead the rest of the country in the relative size of the visible minority population (just less than 37 percent of the population in both places). Cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa-Gatineau and Montréal lag far behind these two cities in terms of the relative size of the visible minority population.

The numerical and relative size of the foreign-born and visible minority groups in each city has an impact on the degree to which the geographies of individual groups can be adequately and accurately represented. For each city it was possible to map residential distributions of the five largest foreign-born and visible minority groups. [note 2] In contrast, in some cities such as Winnipeg and Hamilton the small numerical size of many of the foreign-born and visible minority groups employed in the labour force precluded producing meaningful maps of workplace geographies. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the numerical size of individual groups, the more accurate will be the representation of their geographical distribution and relative concentration.


[2] Given sufficient numerical size.

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