Discover the Largest Cities in Canada (By Population, Total Area, and Economic Impact)

Written by Luke Stevens
Published: August 13, 2023
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Introduction

Canada is located in the northernmost region of North America, just above the United States. It was governed by Great Britain until 1867 when the area finally became its own country. Aside from being the largest country in North America, Canada is known for its unique cuisine, incredible natural beauty, and healthy international relations. The politeness of the Canadian people, growing job opportunities, and prime real estate in the country are causing many people to move there. While much of the 3,855,000 square miles that Canada encompasses are taken up by wilderness, the country houses several large cities. Keep reading to discover the largest cities in Canada, ranked by population, total area, and economic impact.

The Largest Cities in Canada by Population

As of 2021, Toronto was home to 5,647,656 residents, making it the largest city in Canada by population.

©iStock.com/R.M. Nunes

Due to the expansive wilderness of the country, much of Canada’s population is concentrated in and around its largest cities. Here are the three largest cities in Canada by population.

1. Toronto

Toronto is located in Canada’s Ontario province, which makes up the middle portion of the country. As of 2021, Toronto was home to 5,647,656 residents, making it the largest city in Canada by population. Toronto encompasses a total land area of 706 square miles. This means that the city has a population density of 7,999 residents per square mile. However, there are areas of the city and greater metropolitan areas that are much more concentrated than others.

2. Montreal

The second-largest city in Canada is Montreal. Montreal is located east of Toronto within the country’s Quebec province. While Montreal is similar in size to Toronto, it does have a significantly smaller population. According to the 2021 census, 3,675,219 residents were living in the city at the time. However, Montreal covers a slightly smaller 533 square miles in total land area, which partially explains the difference in populations. On average, Montreal has a population density of 6,895 people per square mile.

3. Vancouver

Vancouver is the third-largest city in Canada. Surprisingly, Canada’s three largest cities by population are all located in different provinces. Vancouver is situated within the British Columbia province on the western side of the country. As of 2021, the city had a population of 2,426,160 residents. With a total area of 351 square miles, this gives Vancouver a population density of approximately 6,906 residents per square mile. Surprisingly, this statistic is higher than Montreal’s even though the city has a larger population.

Review: Largest Cities in Canada by Population

CityProvincePopulationPopulation Density (People per Square Mile)
TorontoOntario5,647,6567,999
MontrealQuebec3,675,2196,895
VancouverBritish Columbia2,426,1606,906

The Largest Cities in Canada by Total Area

The city of La Tuque

Located in the middle of the country’s Quebec province, La Tuque covers a staggering 10,849 square miles.

©claude matteau/Shutterstock.com

Although the largest cities in Canada by population boast impressive land areas, they are not nearly as large as some of the country’s other areas. Surprisingly, many cities with far smaller populations in Canada have immense square mileage. Here are the three largest cities in Canada by total area.

1. La Tuque

La Tuque is the largest city in Canada by total area. Located in the middle of the country’s Quebec province, La Tuque covers a staggering 10,849 square miles. With a population of just over 11,000 residents, La Tuque has a population density of only around one resident per square mile. Because the urban area of the town is so small, much of La Tuque is covered in lush forest. The area has a humid continental climate, which provides warm summers and extremely cold winters.

2. Senneterre

Also located in Quebec is Senneterre. The second-largest city in Canada by total area encompasses an impressive 6,302 square miles. Although the city is smaller than La Tuque, it has an even smaller population density! As of 2021, just over 3,000 people were living in Senneterre. Theoretically, this means that on average, every square mile only holds half of a person! The geographical features of the city include lakes, lowlands, mountains, and an expanse of dense forest. Summers in Senneterre are fairly mild and sometimes cloudy, and the winters are extremely frigid.

3. Rouyn-Noranda

Surprisingly, all three of Canada’s largest cities by total area are located in the Quebec province. Rouyn-Noranda sits on the western edge of Quebec, bordering Ontario. The mining town encompasses 2,487 square miles. However, although this town is the smallest of the three, it has the largest population. Rouyn-Noranda was home to 42,313 residents as of 2021, giving the area a population density of 17 people per square mile. While this number is much lower than Canada’s most populous cities, it is still significantly higher than the other two largest cities in Canada by total area. Rouyn-Noranda is fairly flat and sits on a rock that is rich with gold and copper ore. The area has a cold, temperate climate with long, warm summers and cold winters.

Review: Largest Cities in Canada by Total Area

CityProvinceTotal Area (Square Miles)
La TuqueQuebec10,849
SenneterreQuebec6,302
Rouyn-NorandaQuebec2,487

The Largest Cities in Canada by Economic Impact

Aerial view of Montreal showing the Biosphere Environment Museum and Saint Lawrence River during Fall season in Quebec, Canada.

In the 2021 fiscal year, Montreal had an estimated gross domestic product of 329.7 billion dollars.

©R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock.com

Another factor used to consider the magnitude of cities around the world is their economic influence. Here are the three cities in Canada with the largest economic impact, determined by their gross domestic product.

1. Toronto

It should come as no surprise that the largest cities in Canada by population also have the largest economic impact. In 2021, Toronto had an estimated gross domestic product of 376.6 billion dollars, making it by far the most economically lucrative city in the country. Toronto is the hub for entertainment, communication, and technology in Canada, making it incredibly prosperous. Major employers in Toronto include Amazon, Fidelity Investments, and Rogers Communications Incorporated.

2. Montreal

Montreal is the second largest city in Canada in terms of economic impact. In the 2021 fiscal year, Montreal had an estimated gross domestic product of 329.7 billion dollars. The biggest industries in Montreal include tourism, retail, aerospace, and the food industry. Because many of these sectors are so broad, they provide an opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship that contributes to the economic success of the area. Major employers include Bombardier, L’OrĂ©al Canada, and the Bank of Montreal Financial Group.

3. Vancouver

By this point, it is clear that there is a correlation between population and economic impact. While Vancouver is the city with the third-largest economic impact in Canada, its statistics are far smaller than those of Toronto and Montreal. In 2021, Vancouver had an estimated gross domestic product of 188.4 billion dollars. Although this is smaller than the other cities on the list, the amount of money is still incredibly impressive. The largest industries in Vancouver include construction, technology, forestry, and television. Within these industries, some of the major employers are BC Hydro, Best Buy, and Deloitte.

Review: Largest Cities in Canada by Economic Impact

CityProvinceGross Domestic Product (2021)
TorontoOntario376.6 billion dollars
VancouverQuebec329.7 billion dollars
MontrealBritish Columbia188.4 billion dollars

Conclusion

In conclusion, the largest cities in a country by land area are not necessarily the most populous or the most economically impactful. However, there is a definite correlation in many cities between the size of the population and the economic prosperity of the area. A higher population typically suggests more opportunities for jobs, housing, and community engagement.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Engel Ching/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

My name is Luke, and I currently a student at the University of Southern California. I love the outdoors, learning, and writing. I am also involved in several groups focusing on the entertainment industry and business administration. My favorite animals are dogs, koala bears, and dolphins.

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