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The hard numbers behind North Bay's population decline

Newly released 2016 Census data illustrates shifting demographics in North Bay
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File photo by Stu Campaigne

More detailed data pertaining to families, households and marital status, gleaned from the 2016 Census was made public by StatsCan (Statistics Canada), Wednesday. The Census Program previously released statistics on population, age characteristics, and dwelling information, May 10.

A range of ten years, spanning the three Censuses from 2006, 2011 and 2016 was used for the purposes of this comparison of notable figures. Note: some of the categories do not correlate between 2006 and 2011. Where parameters have been altered, only the most current, matching data fields were cited.


StatsCan reported North Bay's population as 53,966 in 2006, 53,651 in 2011, and 51,553 in 2016. That is a 3.9 per cent drop or 2,098 residents from 2011 to 2016 and a 0.6 per cent loss of population (or 315 people) in the 2006 to 2011 period. Percentage population decline in the decade between 2006-16 was 4.5 per cent (all percentages rounded to one decimal place), accounting for the decline of 2,413. Correspondingly, population density per square kilometre in North Bay dropped from 168.2 in 2011 to 161.6 in 2016.

As per the 2016 Census, of North Bay's 51,550 residents, 24,795 were male, 26,755 were female. In 2011, those figures, respectively, were 53,650, 25,785, and 27,865. In five years, between 2011 and 2016, the population decline was comprised of 990 males and 1,110 females.


In 2006, 16.5 per cent of North Bay's population was part of the 0-14 age bracket. In 2011, that percentage had dropped to 14.9 per cent and remained at the same level in 2016. In the most recent report, 15.7 per cent of males were aged 0-14, while 14.1 per cent of the total female population of North Bay fell into the same age range.

In 2006, 15.5 per cent of North Bayites were aged 65 or older. In 2016, that number rose to 19.8 per cent. The median age of residents has risen from 41.2 years in 2006 to 42.1 in 2011, and again to 43.7 in 2016.

In 2016, there were 2,840 residents 80 years of age and older, comprised of 1,085 males and 1,760 females. In 2011, there were a reported 2,585 citizens aged 80 and over, including 915 males and 1,670 females.


While most totals in this category have decreased at a rate comparable to the population decline, there are two outliers. Although the population has dropped from 2011 to 2016, the number of people in common-law relationships has increased from 5,030 to 5,260. 

There are also more total divorced people in North Bay than there were five years ago. In 2011, there were a reported 2,910 people who identified as divorced, while 2016 showed 3,025 despite the 3.9 per cent population decline. It does stand to reason that many residents fell into the same category for both reports.


While the total number of census families in private households has dropped from 15,135 in 2011 to 14,605, the total number of single-parent families has not seen the same decrease. In 2016, there were 2,885 counted, up slightly from the 2,860 in 2011.

In 2016, there were 11,745 couple families, of which 6,655 had no children. Of the 5,090 who had children, 2,195 had one, 2,085 had two, and 805 had three or more. In 2011, of 12,250 couple families, 6,620 had no children, and of the 5,625 who did, 2,455 had one, 2,395 had two, and 865 had three or more children.


In 2011, 7,200 lived alone, comprised of 2,940 men and 4,260 women. In 2016, 7,225 were considered to be part of one-person households, with no gender breakdown available.