Census division: Detailed definition

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Census years
Changes prior to the current census

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Census division (CD) is the general term for provincially legislated areas (such as county, municipalité régionale de comté and regional district) or their equivalents. Census divisions are intermediate geographic areas between the province/territory level and the municipality (census subdivision).

Census years

2011, 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976, 1971, 1966, 1961


Census divisions have been established in provincial law to facilitate regional planning, as well as the provision of services that can be more effectively delivered on a scale larger than a municipality. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, provincial or territorial law does not provide for these administrative geographic areas. Therefore, Statistics Canada, in cooperation with these provinces and territories, has created equivalent areas called census divisions for the purpose of disseminating statistical data. In Yukon, the census division is equivalent to the entire territory.

Next to provinces and territories, census divisions are the most stable administrative geographic areas, and are therefore often used in longitudinal analysis.

Census division type

Census divisions are classified into 12 types according to official designations adopted by provincial or territorial authorities. Two exceptions are 'census division / division de recensement' (CDR) and 'territory / territoire' (TER), which are geographic units created as equivalents by Statistics Canada, in cooperation with the provinces and territories, for the purpose of disseminating statistical data.

Table 4 shows census division types, their abbreviated forms, and their distribution by province and territory.

Table 4 Census division types by province and territory, 2011 Census

Census division code

The census division (CD) code is a two-digit code that is based on the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC). In order to uniquely identify each CD in Canada, the two-digit province/territory (PR) code must precede the two-digit CD code. For example:

Table - Examples of PR-CD code
PR-CD code CD name
13 01 Saint John (N.B.)
24 01 Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Que.)

Changes to census divisions for the 2011 Census

The following CDs have had name or type changes for the 2011 Census:

  • (CD 24 31) L'Amiante, MRC becomes Les Appalaches, MRC
  • (CD 24 40) Asbestos, MRC becomes Les Sources, MRC
  • (CD 24 53) Le Bas-Richelieu, MRC becomes Pierre-De Saurel, MRC
  • (CD 24 98) Minganie–Basse-Côte-Nord, CDR becomes Minganie–Le Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent, CDR
  • (CD 35 10) Frontenac, MB becomes Frontenac, CTY.

In the Northwest Territories, the CDs have been restructured, increasing in number from two to six. The naming convention of CDs in the Northwest Territories is now:

  • (CD 61 01) Region 1, REG
  • (CD 61 02) Region 2, REG
  • (CD 61 03) Region 3, REG
  • (CD 61 04) Region 4, REG
  • (CD 61 05) Region 5, REG
  • (CD 61 06) Region 6, REG.

The boundaries, names and codes of census divisions reflect those in effect on January 1, 2011, the geographic reference date for the 2011 Census of Canada. Information about any CD changes that were effective on or before the January 1, 2011 reference date must have been received by Statistics Canada prior to March 1, 2011, in order to be processed in time for the census.

Refer to the related definitions of census subdivision (CSD) and Standard Geographical Classification (SGC).

Changes prior to the current census

In 2006, the following changes were made to census divisions (CDs).

In New Brunswick, six municipalities (CSDs) straddled the legal county boundaries. In order to maintain the integrity of component municipalities, Statistics Canada modified the CD boundaries to ensure that the CSDs existed completely within the CD. For these six municipalities straddling county boundaries, the county in bold indicates the census division in which these municipalities are completely located:

  • Belledune (Restigouche/Gloucester)
  • Fredericton (York/Sunbury)
  • Grand Falls / Grand-Sault (Victoria/Madawaska)
  • Meductic (Carleton/York)
  • Minto (Sunbury/Queens)
  • Rogersville (Kent/Northumberland)

Three CD types were added. These included: county / comté (CT) in New Brunswick, management board (MB) in Ontario, and territoire équivalent (TÉ) in Quebec. One CD type in Quebec, communauté urbaine (CU), was replaced by territoire équivalent (TÉ). Two CD types were modified slightly. These included census division (DIV), which became census division / division de recensement (CDR), and territory (TER), which became territory / territoire (TER).

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Statistics Canada created a new CD in cooperation with the provincial authorities and the Nunatsiavut Government to represent the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. The lands covered by this new CD, Division No. 11 (CD 10 11), were settled under the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act, which was passed and received Royal Assent in December 2004. Five CSDs (Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet) existed completely within the newly created CD. Two unorganized CSDs (Subdivision C and Subdivision E) were split between the new CD, Division No. 11, and the old CD, Division No. 10.

The CD of Desjardins (CD 24 24) was dissolved. The CSDs of Pintendre, M (24 24 010), Saint-Joseph-de-la-Pointe-de-Lévy, P (24 24 015), and Lévis, V (24 24 020) (now part of CSD Lévis, V [24 25 213]) were annexed to Les Chutes-de-la-Chaudière (now Lévis, TÉ [CD 24 25]) and the CSD of Saint-Henri, M (24 24 005) was annexed to Bellechasse (CD 24 19). The deletion of Desjardins decreased the number of CDs in Quebec to 98.

In Ontario, Frontenac, CTY became Frontenac, MB; Haldimand-Norfolk, RM became Haldimand-Norfolk, CDR; and Brant, CTY became Brant, CDR.

To remain consistent with the conventions used for naming census subdivisions, all CD names had any reference to the associated CD type removed from their names. For example, Niagara Regional Municipality, RM (CD 35 26) became known as Niagara, RM and Perth County, CTY (CD 35 31) became known as Perth, CTY.

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