The urban myth that won’t go away: 80% of Canadians live in cities

by Yvonne on November 9, 2009 · 8 comments

in Country living

Photo: Y. Cunnington

Photo: Y. Cunnington

Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor says the media, including his paper, are guilty of spreading the myth that 80% of Canadians live in cities:

“StatsCan, which for reasons even many of its employees puzzle over, considers an ‘urban’ centre a defined area with 1,000 or more population. That has the effect of deeming little places like Arnold’s Cove, Nfld., and Barry’s Bay, Ont., ‘urban.’ The media, then, substitutes ‘city’ for ‘urban’ (why not?) and we end up with this continuing misread of the country.”

The problem is an old Statistics Canada definition that goes all the way back to Confederation (1867), when a town of 1,000 was considered large.

As MacGregor points out, if the cutoff were changed to cities with a population of 100,000, “Canada would be considered roughly half urban and half rural.”

Why is this important? The myth that 80% of Canadians are urban is constantly used to minimize the concerns of Canadians who live outside of big cities, and it tends to reinforce stereotypes of rural people as uneducated yokels.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Susie November 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Beautiful shot, you should enter it a Gardening Gone Wild. The theme this month is ‘End of the Line’


Yvonne Cunnington November 9, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for the suggestion, Susie. I took this picture at the entrance to my neighbor’s driveway a couple of years ago. These posts with their little barns were on their last legs at the time. They have now been replaced with new brick pillars, so it was “the end of the line” for them.


Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm

It is a wonderfully composed shot, with the repetition of the barns, the pillars and the fence slats.


Yvonne Cunnington November 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Thanks so much. This picture was my response to an assignment about repitition in a photography course with Tony Sweet.


Salix November 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm

What a very interesting post, Yvonne.
Living in a rural community, we often feel the decisions made by politicians and law-makers totally miss the interest of rural people.


healingmagichands November 10, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Isn’t it odd how our definitions of what large is have changed over the centuries.

I like your picture very much. Who would have ever thought to build such a fence post in the first place, and then three of them. It is quite charming, and a nice entry to the contest.


Yvonne Cunnington November 10, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Thanks, healingmagichands. The place with the fence was a horse farm. (It’s still a very lovely farm, but the horses are gone.) The little barns on the pillars were replicas of the horse barn.


Eve November 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Love that photo Yvonne.
I remember when I was a kid and we moved from NY state to Florida. All the kids said “how could you live in NY with no trees or grass???” They thought the whole state was one big city!!


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