Maps and data

Birds eye view of KW
Remote video URL

Anna Kramer
School of Planning, University of Waterloo

Our Atlas includes maps and statistics for Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). CMAs are statistical areas used by Statistics Canada. We analyzed Statistics Canada census variables that helped us describe ethnic diversity, work, schooling, housing, income and family characteristics. Not all CMAs are included here yet; but so far we have posted information for the six CMAs with populations of over one million people (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton) as well as a diverse selection of smaller CMAs from east to west. The header images are from Google Earth, showing satellite imagery of suburban areas for each CMA.

The data is from the 2006 census of Canada. The maps use a dot density format, which allows nuanced spatial characteristics to be shown. We also show summary statistics for each of the CMAs: We have taken the central business district as a point in the downtown of each city and measured distances from this point, dividing each metro area into distance bands (with division rings at 5km, 10km, 20km, 30km and 40km from the central point). Cities do not always radiate neatly from the centre point, interrupted by geography like mountains and oceans, and spatial socioeconomics can cluster in patterns other than radial (such as south-north or east-west divisions). But using distance bands provides one initial way to help us understand how socio-economic, commute and built-form characteristics change with distance from the central business district.

A note about the Census of Canada: The Statistics Canada census has long been a reliable source of information about how our cities, suburbs, towns and countryside are changing. Individual privacy is protected as the data is grouped into a collage that becomes the story of our shared spaces – our cities, our suburbs, the places that we call home. We hope you find this site interesting and informative. Please feel free to leave comments and link to this site; we would like it to be a part of a larger conversation about Canada’s growing cities and suburbs. It’s part of an effort to make academic research available to a broader audience.



Statistics on diversity include recent immigrants, origins of immigrants, generation of immigration and ethnic origins of the population as a whole.


Statistics on families include household size, average household size, couples, number of children, and average number of children. There is also information on unpaid housework, childcare, and eldercare.


Data on homes include home tenure (owned or rented), home type (apartment building, detached house, row house etc.), home age (the era of construction of the building), average rent, average monthly owner costs (such as mortgages) and estimated value of owner-occupied homes.

Travel and mobility

One variable here considers the mode of transportation people take when they travel to work. It indicates whether people get to work by car, public transit, bike or walk on a daily basis. Also analyzed is the mobility of households; that is, the percentage of the population that has moved house in the past five year.

Work, education and income

This category includes educational attainment of adults, labour force participation and employment rates, average household income, average after-tax household income, and the percent families below the low-income cutoff (LICO), which is calculated using local costs.

More detailed variable descriptions are available on the Statistics Canada website.