Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Culture and Leisure

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Canada has a long and proud tradition of arts, culture and sport. We are recognized worldwide for quality musical productions, unique film-making, award-winning fiction, and sports such as hockey. The country also boasts a rich array of art galleries, historic sites and museums that attract millions of visitors.

Performing arts, like theatre and musical events, remain popular. However, movie-going is Canadians’ preferred entertainment activity outside the home. In 2005, we spent an average $106 per household going to the movies. People in the Northwest Territories spent the most, an average $132 per household.

Spectator sports have wide appeal as well. In 2005, households spent an average of $44 on live sports events: British Columbians spent the most, $70 per household. Both for fun and to stay healthy, Canadians also take part in games such as golf and soccer and in recreational activities such as running and swimming.

Canadians also devote significant time to reading books and magazines, watching television and listening to music. More and more are using the Internet to play and download movies, television shows, songs and radio programs. Online video games and gambling are also popular, particularly among young people.

The economic benefits of culture and leisure

Culture and leisure businesses contributed $54 billion to Canada’s economy in 2005, up a substantial 19% from 2000, faster than the 13% growth of total gross domestic product (GDP) over the same period. Information and cultural industries—including publishing, movie and sound recording, broadcasting and telecommunications, news services and libraries—showed the most stellar growth by far over the period, 22%; these industries contributed $44 billion to GDP in 2005.

Arts, entertainment and recreation industries—including performing arts, spectator sports, museums, heritage sites, zoos, amusement parks, gambling, golf courses, ski hills, fitness centres and bowling centres—contributed $9 billion to the economy in 2005, an increase of 9% since 2000.

In 2005, the publishing industry contributed nearly $8.8 billion to the Canadian economy, up from $8.3 billion in 2004.

The magazine industry prospered in 2003/2004, producing 2,383 titles and selling 758 million copies. Ten years earlier, Canadian magazine publishers produced 1,678 titles and sold 575 million copies.

Book publishers produced 16,776 new book titles in 2004, up almost 7% from 2000, and reprinted 12,387 existing titles, a 19% increase from four years earlier. More than half the new titles in 2004 were adult fiction and non-fiction. Canadian publishers printed 2,228 children’s book titles in 2004 and reprinted 1,961 titles. In 2004, book publishers had a total industry profit of $235 million.

Rising incomes, interest in wellness push recreation spending

A renewed interest in well-being, especially among baby boomers, as well as rising personal incomes, led to more spending on health and fitness in 2005. This prompted an expansion in the number of fitness and recreation centres across the country. Golf courses also enjoyed renewed success, as the sport increased in popularity, possibly the result of retiring baby boomers heading to the links.

In 2005, households spent an average $3,918 on recreation, up slightly from $3,678 in 2004. Items included in the 2005 figure are: an average $166 on sports and athletic equipment; $665 to buy and operate recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles, bicycles and trailers; and $299 for the use of sports and recreation facilities.

In 2005, Canadians aged 15 and older spent on average 1.1 hours per day on active sports and leisure activities; males reported 1.3 hours per day, whereas females reported 0.9 hours.

Spectator sports—including professional and semi-professional sports clubs and teams, as well as horse racing—also remain big draws. In 2005, Canadians spent an average of $44 on spectator sports, a slight increase from the previous year.

Support for performing arts remains strong

Public support for Canada’s performing arts remained strong in 2004, both at the box office and in the form of grants, subsidies and donations from various government and private sector sources.

Live performances accounted for almost half the revenue of for-profit and not-for-profit performing arts companies in 2004, unchanged from 2001. In total, companies’ revenues surpassed $1.2 billion in 2004, up 4% over 2003 and about 26% higher than in 2001. The for-profit companies generated just over half the total.Theatre, the predominant segment, accounted for 28% of total revenue, while music groups—everything from orchestras to rock groups—accounted for 25%. The remaining 47% was split among musical theatre (including opera), dance, and a miscellaneous category that includes circuses and ice skating shows.

Grants, subsidies and donations from various government and private sector sources made up 27% of total revenue, down slightly from 28% three years earlier. In the not-for-profit sector, grants, subsidies and donations increased 6% over 2003. Contributions from government increased 7%, more than twice the 3% growth seen in donations from the private sector.

Provincial governments were the biggest backers of not-for-profit companies in 2004. They accounted for $75 million in revenue, or 46% of total public sector support.