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150 years of Canadian agriculture

Released: 2017-06-27

The 2016 Census of Agriculture marks the 22nd census since Confederation in 1867. Just as Canada as a country has evolved over the past 150 years, so too has the agriculture sector. Agriculture has used innovation to push the bounds of production, transforming farming from the small scale to a highly mechanized and advanced industry.

While there are fewer agricultural operations in Canada than there were in 1871, the average farm size has risen consistently—from 98 acres in 1871 to 820 acres in 2016. Canada reported 14 times as much wheat acreage in 2016 than was reported on the first Census of Agriculture in 1871. There were also 10 times as many pigs and 5 times as many head of cattle as reported in 1871.

Total farm sales climbed to their highest levels ever in 2015, reaching $69.4 billion compared with $364.9 million in 1900. This represents an increase in average sales per farm from $714 to $358,503.

Based on the data from the 2016 Census of Agriculture, the infographic "150 Years of Canadian Agriculture" (Catalogue number11-627-M) provides a visual overview of the evolution of Canadian agriculture over the last 150 years.

The national snapshot, 2016 Census of Agriculture as well as provincial highlights are now available online.


For a complete list of our products, visit 2016 Census of Agriculture. You can also consult the CANSIM tables 004-0200 to 004-0246.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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