Glossary

Glossary

Adjusted counts

'Adjusted counts' refer to previous census population and dwelling counts that were adjusted (i.e., recompiled) to reflect current census boundaries, when a boundary change occurs between the two censuses.

Block-face

A block-face is one side of a street between two consecutive features intersecting that street. The features can be other streets or boundaries of standard geographic areas.

Block-faces are used for generating block-face representative points, which in turn are used for geocoding and census data extraction when the street and address information are available.

Cartographic boundary files

Cartographic boundary files (CBFs) contain the boundaries of standard geographic areas together with the shoreline around Canada. Selected inland lakes and rivers are available as a supplementary layer.

Census agricultural region

Census agricultural regions (CARs) are composed of groups of adjacent census divisions.

In Saskatchewan, census agricultural regions are made up of groups of adjacent census consolidated subdivisions, but these groups do not necessarily respect census division boundaries.

Census consolidated subdivision

A census consolidated subdivision (CCS) is a group of adjacent census subdivisions. Generally, the smaller, more densely-populated census subdivisions (towns, villages, etc.) are combined with the surrounding, larger, more rural census subdivision, in order to create a geographic level between the census subdivision and the census division.

Census division

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 metropolitan area and census agglomeration

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre (known as the core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in the core.

A CA must have a core population of at least 10,000. To be included in the CMA or CA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the core, as measured by commuting flows derived from previous census place of work data.

If the population of the core of a CA declines below 10,000, the CA is retired. However, once an area becomes a CMA, it is retained as a CMA even if its total population declines below 100,000 or the population of its core falls below 50,000. Small population centres with a population count of less than 10,000 are called fringe. All areas inside the CMA or CA that are not population centres are rural areas.

When a CA has a core of at least 50,000, it is subdivided into census tracts. Census tracts are maintained for the CA even if the population of the core subsequently falls below 50,000. All CMAs are subdivided into census tracts.

Census metropolitan influenced zone

The census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ) is a concept that geographically differentiates the area of Canada outside census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs). Census subdivisions that are outside CMAs and CAs within provinces are assigned to one of four categories according to the degree of influence (strong, moderate, weak or no influence) that the CMAs or CAs have on them. The CSDs in the territories but outside CAs are assigned a separate category.

Census subdivisions (CSDs) within provinces are assigned to a MIZ category based on the percentage of their resident employed labour force that commutes to work in the core(s) of CMAs or CAs. CSDs with the same degree of influence tend to be clustered. They form zones around CMAs and CAs that progress through the categories from 'strong' to 'no' influence as distance from the CMAs and CAs increases. As many CSDs in the territories are very large and sparsely populated, the commuting flow of the resident employed labour force is unstable. For this reason, CSDs that are outside CAs in the territories are assigned a separate category that is not based on their commuting flows.

Census subdivision

Census subdivision (CSD) is the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial/territorial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (e.g., Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories).

Census tract

Census tracts (CTs) are small, relatively stable geographic areas that usually have a population of 2,500 to 8,000 persons. They are located in census metropolitan areas and in census agglomerations that had a core population of 50,000 or more in the previous census.

A committee of local specialists (for example, planners, health and social workers, and educators) initially delineates census tracts in conjunction with Statistics Canada. Once a census metropolitan area (CMA) or census agglomeration (CA) has been subdivided into census tracts, the census tracts are maintained even if the core population subsequently declines below 50,000.

Coordinate system

A coordinate system is a reference system based on mathematical rules for specifying positions (locations) on the surface of the earth. The coordinate values can be spherical (latitude and longitude) using angular units of measure such as degrees, minutes and seconds or planar (Universal Transverse Mercator) using linear units such as metres.

Cartographic boundary files, digital boundary files, representative points and road network files are disseminated in latitude/longitude coordinates.

Core, fringe and rural area

The terms 'core,' 'fringe' and 'rural area' replace the terms 'urban core,' 'urban fringe' and 'rural fringe' for the 2011 Census. These terms distinguish between population centres (POPCTRs) and rural areas (RAs) within a census metropolitan area (CMA) or census agglomeration (CA).

A CMA or CA can have two types of cores: the core and the secondary core. The core is the population centre with the highest population, around which a CMA or a CA is delineated. The core must have a population (based on the previous census) of at least 50,000 persons in the case of a CMA, or at least 10,000 persons in the case of a CA.

The secondary core is a population centre within a CMA that has at least 10,000 persons and was the core of a CA that has been merged with an adjacent CMA.

The term 'fringe' includes all population centres within a CMA or CA that have less than 10,000 persons and are not contiguous with the core or secondary core.

All territory within a CMA or CA that is not classified as a core or fringe is classified as rural area.

Datum

A datum is a geodetic reference system which includes an ellipsoid and an origin against which the latitude and longitude of all other points on the earth's surface are referenced. A datum may often be associated with a particular ellipsoid (mathematical reference model of the earth).

Designated place

A designated place (DPL) is normally a small community or settlement that does not meet the criteria established by Statistics Canada to be a census subdivision (an area with municipal status) or a population centre.

Designated places are created by provinces and territories, in cooperation with Statistics Canada, to provide data for submunicipal areas.

Digital boundary files

Digital boundary files (DBFs) portray the boundaries used for 2011 Census collection and, therefore, often extend as straight lines into bodies of water.

Dissemination area

A dissemination area (DA) is a small, relatively stable geographic unit composed of one or more adjacent dissemination blocks. It is the smallest standard geographic area for which all census data are disseminated. DAs cover all the territory of Canada.

Dissemination block

A dissemination block (DB) is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas. The dissemination block is the smallest geographic area for which population and dwelling counts are disseminated. Dissemination blocks cover all the territory of Canada.

Economic region

An economic region (ER) is a grouping of complete census divisions (CDs) (with one exception in Ontario) created as a standard geographic unit for analysis of regional economic activity.

Ecumene

Ecumene is a term used by geographers to mean inhabited land. It generally refers to land where people have made their permanent home, and to all work areas that are considered occupied and used for agricultural or any other economic purpose. Thus, there can be various types of ecumenes, each having their own unique characteristics (population ecumene, agricultural ecumene, industrial ecumene, etc.).

Federal electoral district

A federal electoral district (FED) is an area represented by a member of the House of Commons. The federal electoral district boundaries used for the 2011 Census are based on the 2003 Representation Order.

Geocoding

Geocoding is the process of assigning geographic identifiers (codes or x,y coordinates) to map features and data records. The resulting geocodes permit data to be linked geographically to a place on the earth.

Households, postal codes and place of work data are linked to block-face representative points (coordinates) when the street and address information is available; otherwise, they are linked to dissemination block (DB) representative points. In some cases, postal codes and place of work data are linked to dissemination area (DA) representative points when they cannot be linked to DBs. As well, place of work data are linked to census subdivision representative points when the data cannot be linked to DAs.

Geographic code

A geographic code is a numerical identifier assigned to a geographic area. The code is used to identify and access standard geographic areas for the purposes of data storage, retrieval and display.

Geographic reference date

The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada for the purpose of finalizing the geographic framework for which census data will be collected, tabulated and reported. For the 2011 Census, the geographic reference date is January 1, 2011.

Land area

Land area is the area in square kilometres of the land-based portions of standard geographic areas. Land area data are unofficial and are provided for the sole purpose of calculating population density.

Map projection

A map projection is the process of transforming and representing positions from the earth's three-dimensional curved surface to a two-dimensional (flat) surface. The process is accomplished by a direct geometric projection or by a mathematically derived transformation.

The Lambert conformal conic map projection is widely used for general maps of Canada at small scales and is the most common map projection used at Statistics Canada.

National Geographic Database

The National Geographic Database (NGD) is a shared database between Statistics Canada and Elections Canada. The database contains roads, road names and address ranges. It also includes separate reference layers containing physical and cultural features, such as hydrography and hydrographic names, railroads and power transmission lines.

Place name

'Place name' provides name and location information on local place names. It also includes selected records of active and retired geographic areas as well as names from the Canadian Geographic Names Database.

'Place name' refers to the set of names that includes census subdivisions (municipalities), designated places and population centres, as well as the names of some local places.

Population centre

A population centre (POPCTR) has a population of at least 1,000 and a population density of 400 or more persons per square kilometre, based on the current census population count. All areas outside population centres are classified as rural areas. Taken together, population centres and rural areas cover all of Canada.

Population centres are classified into three groups, depending on the size of their population:

  • small population centres, with a population between 1,000 and 29,999
  • medium population centres, with a population between 30,000 and 99,999
  • large urban population centres, with a population of 100,000 or more

Population centre population includes all population living in the cores, secondary cores and fringes of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs), as well as the population living in population centres outside CMAs and CAs.

Population density

Population density is the number of persons per square kilometre.

Province or territory

'Province' and 'territory' refer to the major political units of Canada. From a statistical point of view, province and territory are basic areas for which data are tabulated. Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Reference map

A reference map shows the location of the geographic areas for which census data are tabulated and disseminated. The maps display the boundaries, names and unique identifiers of standard geographic areas, as well as major cultural and physical features, such as roads, railroads, coastlines, rivers and lakes.

Representative point

A representative point is a coordinate point that represents a line or a polygon. The point is centrally located along the line, and centrally located or population weighted in the polygon.

Representative points are generated for block-faces, as well as for selected geographic areas – province/territory (PR), federal electoral district (FED), economic region (ER), census division (CD), census metropolitan area/census agglomeration (CMA/CA), census subdivision (CSD), population centre (POPCTR), designated place (DPL), census tract (CT), dissemination area (DA) and dissemination block (DB).

Households, postal codes and place of work data are linked to block-face representative points when the street and address information is available; otherwise, they are linked to dissemination block (DB) representative points. In some cases, postal codes and place of work data are linked to dissemination area (DA) representative points when they cannot be linked to DBs. As well, place of work data are linked to census subdivision (CSD) representative points when the data cannot be linked to DAs.

Road network file

The road network file (RNF) contains roads, road names, types, directions, address ranges and road ranks for the entire country. Address ranges are dwelling-based.

Rural area

Rural areas (RAs) include all territory lying outside population centres (POPCTRs). Taken together, population centres and rural areas cover all of Canada.

Rural population includes all population living in the rural areas of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs), as well as population living in rural areas outside CMAs and CAs.

Spatial Data Infrastructure

The Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) is an internal maintenance database that is not disseminated outside of Statistics Canada. It contains roads, road names and address ranges from the National Geographic Database (NGD), as well as boundary arcs of standard geographic areas that do not follow roads, all in one integrated line layer. The database also includes a related polygon layer consisting of basic blocks (BB; basic blocks are the smallest polygon units in the database, and are formed by the intersection of all roads and the arcs of geographic areas that do not follow roads), boundary layers of standard geographic areas, and derived attribute tables, as well as reference layers containing physical and cultural features (such as hydrography, railroads and power transmission lines) from the NGD.

The SDI supports a wide range of census operations, such as the maintenance and delineation of the boundaries of standard geographic areas (including the automated delineation of dissemination blocks and population centres), and geocoding. The SDI is also the source for generating many geography products for the 2011 Census, such as cartographic boundary files and road network files.

Spatial data quality elements

Spatial data quality elements provide information on the fitness for use of a spatial database by describing why, when and how the data are created, and how accurate the data are. The elements include an overview describing the purpose and usage, as well as specific quality elements reporting on the lineage, positional accuracy, attribute accuracy, logical consistency and completeness. This information is provided to users for all spatial data products disseminated for the census.

Standard Geographical Classification

The Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) 2011 is Statistics Canada's main classification of geographic areas in Canada. It is designed to classify statistical information by geographic areas. The classification consists of four levels: geographical regions of Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions (such as counties and regional municipalities) and census subdivisions (such as municipalities). The four geographic levels are hierarchically related; a seven-digit code is used to show this relationship.

Statistical Area Classification

The Statistical Area Classification (SAC) groups census subdivisions according to whether they are a component of a census metropolitan area, a census agglomeration or a census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ). The MIZ classifies all CSDs in provinces and territories that are outside census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

The Statistical Area Classification is a variant of the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC). Census subdivisions (CSDs) form the lowest level of the classification variant. The next level consists of individual census metropolitan areas (CMAs), census agglomerations (CAs) and census metropolitan influenced zones (MIZs). The highest level consists of three categories that cover all of the land mass of Canada:

  • census metropolitan areas
  • census agglomerations
  • outside census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

The SAC provides unique numeric identification (codes) for these hierarchically-related geographic areas. It was established for the purpose of reporting statistics.

Thematic map

A thematic map shows the spatial distribution of one or more specific data themes for selected geographic areas. The map may be qualitative in nature (e.g., predominant farm types) or quantitative (e.g., percentage population change).

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