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The historical growth of Canada's population is complex and has been influenced by several factors, such as indigenous populations, expansion of territory, and human migration. Being a new world country, Canada has been predisposed to be a very open society with regards to immigration, which has been the most important factor in its historical population growth. Canadians make up about 0.5% of the world's total population. An estimate in 2014 had the population at 35,344,962.
Despite the fact that Canada's population density is low, many regions in the south such as Southern Ontario, have population densities higher than several European countries. The large size of Canada's north which is not arable, and thus cannot support large human populations, significantly lowers the carrying capacity. Therefore the population density of the habitable land in Canada can be modest to high depending on the region.
Scholars vary on the estimated size of the aboriginal population in what is now Canada prior to colonization and on the effects of European contact. During the late 15th century is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million, with a figure of 500,000 currently accepted by Canada's Royal Commission on Aboriginal Health. Repeated outbreaks of European infectious diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox (to which they had no natural immunity), combined with other effects of European contact, resulted in a twenty-five percent to eighty percent Aboriginal population decrease post-contact. Roland G Robertson suggests that during the late 1630s, smallpox killed over half of the Wyandot (Huron), who controlled most of the early North American fur trade in the area of New France. In 1871 there was an enumeration of the aboriginal population within the limits of Canada at the time, showing a total of only 102,358 individuals. According to the 2011 Canadian Census, Aboriginal peoples (First Nations - 851,560, Inuit - 59,445 and Métis - 451,795) numbered at 1,400,685, or 4.3% of the country's total population.
The European population grew slowly under French rule, thus remained relatively low as growth was largely achieved through natural births, rather than by immigration. Most of the people were farmers, and the rate of population growth among the settlers themselves was very high. The women had about 30 per cent more children than comparable women who remained in France. Yves Landry says, "Canadians had an exceptional diet for their time. The 1666 census of New France was the first census conducted in North America. It was organized by Jean Talon, the first Intendant of New France, between 1665 and 1666. According to Talon's census there were 3,215 people in New France, comprising 538 separate families. The census showed a great difference in the number of men at 2,034 versus 1,181 women. By the early 1700s the New France settlers were well established along the Saint Lawrence River and Acadian Peninsula with a population around 15,000 to 16,000. Mainly due to natural increase and modest immigration from Northwest France (Brittany, Normandy, Île-de-France, Poitou-Charentes and Pays de la Loire) the population of New France increased to approximately 55,009 according to the last French census of 1754. This was an increases from 42,701 in 1730.
During the late l8th and early 19th century Canada under British rule experienced strong population growth. In the wake of the 1775 invasion of Canada by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, approximately 60,000 to 70,000 United Empire Loyalist had fled to British North America, a large portion of whom migrated to New Brunswick. Lower Canada's population had reached approximately 553,000, with Upper Canada reaching about 237,000 individuals by 1831. The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s had significantly increased the pace of Irish immigration to Prince Edward Island and the Province of Canada, peaking in 1847 with 100,000 distressed individuals. By 1851, the population of the Maritime colonies also reached roughly 533,000 (277,000 in Nova Scotia, 194,000 in New Brunswick and 62,000 in Prince Edward Island). To the west British Columbia had about 55,000 individuals by 1851. Beginning in late 1850s, the immigration of Chinese into the Colony of Vancouver Island and Colony of British Columbia peaked with the onset of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. By 1861, as a result of natural births and the Great Migration of Canada from the British Isles, the Province of Canada population increased to 2.5 million inhabitants. Newfoundland's population by 1861 reached approximately 125,000 individuals.
The population has consistently risen every year since the establishment of the Dominion of Canada in 1867; however the population of Newfoundland and Labrador was not included in post-confederation tallies prior to its entry into confederation as Canada's tenth province in 1949. The first national census of the country was taken in 1871, with a population count around 3,689,000. The year with the least population growth (in real terms) was 1882–1883, when only 30,000 new individuals were enumerated.
The 1911 census was a detailed enumeration of the population showing a count of 7,206,643 individuals. This was an increase of 34% over the 1901 census of 5,371,315. The year with the most population growth was during the peak of the Post-World War II baby boom in 1956–1957, when the population grew by over 529,000, in a single twelve-month period. The Canadian baby boom defined from 1947 to 1966, saw more than 400,000 babies born. The 1996 census attempted to count every person in the country, totaling a population count of 28,846,761. This was a 5.7% increase over the 1991 census of 27,296,859. The 2001 census had a total population count of 30,007,094. In contrast, the official Statistics Canada population estimate for 2001 was 31,021,300.
Canada's total population enumerated by the 2006 census was 31,612,897. This count was lower than the official 1 July 2006 population estimate of 32,623,490 people. Ninety-percent of the population growth between 2001 and 2006 was concentrated in the main metropolitan areas. The 2011 census was the fifteenth decennial census with a total population count of 33,476,688 up 5.9% from 2006. On average, censuses have been taken every five years since 1905. Censuses are required to be taken at least every ten years as mandated in section 8 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
Canada's current annual population growth rate is 1.238%, or a daily increase of 1,137 individuals. Between 1867 and 2009 Canada's population grew by 979%. It will have taken 144 years to do so. Canada had the highest net migration rate (0.61%) of all G-8 member countries between 1994 and 2004. Natural growth accounts for an annual increase of 137,626 persons, at a yearly rate of 0.413%. Between 2001 and 2006, there were 1,446,080 immigrants and 237,418 emigrants, resulting in a net migration of just over 1.2 million persons. Since 2001, immigration has ranged between 221,352 and 262,236 immigrants per annum.
|1000||L'Anse aux Meadows|
|30 to 160||Archaeological evidence of a short-lived Norse settlement was found a L'Anse aux Meadows, on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland (carbon dating estimate 990 - 1050 CE.) There is no record of how many men and women lived at the site at any given time, however archaeological evidence of the dwellings suggest it had the capacity of supporting 30 to 160 individuals.|
|400||Jacques Cartier established Charlesbourg-Royal at Cap-Rouge on his third voyage. Even though scurvy was cured through the aboriginal remedy (Thuja occidentalis infusion), the impression left is of a general misery with the effort being abandoned. During the winter 35 of Cartier’s men would perish.|
|200||In 1542, Jean-François Roberval tried to re-invigorate the Charlesbourg-Royal colony at Cap-Rouge which Roberval renamed France-Roy, however after a set of disastrous winters the effort was abandoned. En route to Charlesbourg-Royal, Roberval had abandoned his near-relative Marguerite de La Rocque with her lover on the "Isle of Demons" (now called Harrington Island), in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, as punishment for their affair. The young man, their servant and baby died, but Marguerite survived to be rescued by fishermen and returned to France 2 years latter.|
|1583||St. John Bay|
|260||Humphrey Gilbert with 260 men planned a settlement, however during exploration of the coast line a ship was lost containing many of the prospective colonists and their provisions.|
|50||Marquis de La Roche-Mesgouez and 40 convicts (peasants and beggars) with 10 soldiers settled on Sable Island, but this colonization attempt failed, culminating in a revolt with only 11 survivors evacuated.|
|16||François Gravé Du Pont with 16 men built a fur trading post at Tadoussac, however only five of the men survived the winter returning to France.|
|79||The St. Croix settlement of Maine was the first real attempt at a year round base of operation in New France. The expedition was lead by Pierre Du Gua de Monts with 79 settlers including François Gravé Du Pont, Royal cartographer Samuel de Champlain, the Baron de Poutrincourt, apothecary Louis Hébert, a priest Nicolas Aubry, and Mathieu de Costa a linguist. The St. Croix settlement was abandoned the following summer for a new habitation at Port-Royal after 35 died of scurvy.|
|44||The 44 colonist are surviving members of 79 from the now abandoned St. Croix settlement of Maine. However, the habitation at Port-Royal was also abandoned and left in the care of the local Mi'kmaq. The settlement was later moved upstream and to the south bank of the Annapolis River, keeping the name Port-Royal and becoming the capital of Acadia.|
|1608||Quebec City||28||Samuel de Champlain established the colony with 28 settlers. Half of the men that wintered the first year died of scurvy or starvation. Nevertheless, new settlers arrived resulting in Quebec City being the first permanent settlement also becoming the capital of Canada (New France).|
|40||The Newfoundland Colony was established by John Guy his brother Phillip and his brother-in-law William Colston with 39 colonists who spend the winter of 1610–1611 at Cuper's Cove. By the fall of 1613 sixteen structures were completed by 60 plus settlers on the site. As England tried to create a foothold in the north, other settlements were established at Bristol's Hope, Renews, New Cambriol, South Falkland and Avalon, an area that became known as the English Shore. However the majority of the population did not stay year round returning in the spring of each year. Over the next 100 years the English colonies of Newfoundland grew very slowly with only 3,000 permanent residents by the 1720s.|
|1629||Quebec city||117||90 wintering belonged to Kirke's English Expedition that had captured the city. Under brief British control the city began to grow and be fortified. Prior to 1632 only eight births were recorded among the 60 to 70 permanent European settlers. The first European child born in Quebec had been Hélène Desportes, in 1620.|
|1641||New France||240||De facto population of Canada (New France) and Acadia now situated partly in the United States of America and partly in Canada.|
|50||New colony with the majority of immigrants coming directly from France lead by Paul de Chomedey and Jeanne Mance, a lay woman.|
|1666||Canada (New France)||3,215||The 1660s marked the only real "wave" of French settlers arriving until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Following the initial wave of French settlers natural growth was the main contributing factor to population growth. Quebec city 2,100, Trois-Rivieres 455, Montreal 655. (Comprising 528 families with 2,034 men and 1,181 women. Professionals included 3 notaries, 3 schoolmasters, 3 locksmiths, 4 bailiffs, 5 surgeons, 5 bakers, 8 barrel makers, 9 millers, 18 official merchants, 27 joiners, and 36 carpenters.)|
|10,750||Estimated Aboriginal population in and around New France territory 10,750, including 2,150 warriors. (Mohawks 5 villages, 96 lodges, 300 warriors - Oneidas 1 village, 100 lodges, 200 warriors - Onondagas 2 villages, 164 lodges, 350 warriors - Cayugas 3 villages, 100 lodges, 300 warriors - Senecas 4 villages, 324 lodges, 1,000 warriors).|
|1679||Acadia||515||Majority are French subjects from Pleumartin and Poitiers of west-central France the Vienne region.|
|1681||New France||9,677||New France saw new settlements develop resulting in the loss of inhabitants from Quebec City 1,345 and Trois-Rivières 150 with Montreal gaining influence with a populace reaching 1,418.|
|1687||Newfoundland||663||French population only.|
|1695||New France||13,639||Population of Saint John River New Brunswick 49.|
|1698||New France||15,355||English population of Newfoundland at the time 1,500.|
|1705||Newfoundland||520||French population only|
|1706||New France||16,417||Covering territory that is now situated partly in the United States of America and partly in Canada.|
|1712||New France||18,440||Married - men 2,786, women 2,588. Unmarried - males 6,716, females 6,350.|
|1718||New France||22,983||Married - men 3,662, women 3,926. Unmarried - males 7,911, females 7,484.|
(Prince Edward Island)
|1730||New France||33,682||Married - men 6,050, women 5,728. Unmarried - males 11,314, females 10,590.|
|17,575||Estimated population of First Nations in New France that are now within Canada - Abenakis 2,950 - Algonquins, Ottawas, Potawatomi, Saulteaux and Crees 11,475 - Wyandot-Huron 1,300 - Iroquois 1,850.|
|1737||New France||39,970||Married - men 7,378, women 6,804. Unmarried - males 13,330, females 12,458.|
|1741||Newfoundland||6,000||English population only.|
|1749||Nova Scotia||2,544||Married - men, 509 ; women 509. Unmarried -men, 660 ; women, 3. Children-boys, 228 ; girls, 216. Servants-men, 277 ; women, 142.|
|1749||Île-Royale (New France) (Cape Breton)||1,000||French population only.|
|1749||Acadian Peninsula||13,000||French population only.|
|1765||Province of Quebec (1763–91)||69,810||French and English populations.|
|1775||Province of Quebec (1763–91)||90,000||French and English populations.|
|1785||Newfoundland||10,244||French and English populations.|
|1790||Nova Scotia||30,000||French and English populations.|
|1797||St. John Island|
(Prince Edward Island)
|4,500||French and English populations.|
|1806||Prince Edward Island||9,676|
|1822||Prince Edward Island||24,600|
|1833||Prince Edward Island||32,292|
|1846||Assiniboia (North-West Territories)||4,871|
|1861||Colony of Vancouver Island||3,024|
|1871||Prince Edward Island||94,021|
|Year||Canada as a whole||Population||Provinces/Area|
|1871||Aboriginals||102,358||Prince Edward Island 323 - Nova Scotia 1,666 - New Brunswick 1,403 - Quebec 6,988 - Ontario 12,978 - British Columbia 23,000 - Rupert's Land 33,500 - Manitoba 500 and Labrador and the Arctic Watersheds 22,000|
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