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.