The population of Ottawa is 934,243. This makes Ottawa the fourth largest city in Canada, the second largest city in Ontario and the 30th largest city in North America.
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, located in the province of Ontario right on the border with Québec. Directly across the Ottawa River lies the city of Gatineau whose population in 2016 was 276,245.
Together the two cities make up the National Capital Region of Canada, known as Ottawa-Gatineau.
Latest data from Statistics Canada indicates that the population of the wider Ottawa–Gatineau metro area is 1.3 million (1,323,783) people – this includes Ottawa, Gatineau and some surrounding areas. This makes it the fifth largest Census Metropolitan area in Canada.
Ottawa is unusual in that it is one of just a few cities in Canada which are officially bilingual. This is partly because it is located on the border between Ontario and Québec and partly because it is the nation’s capital city and attracts people from all around the country.
Ottawa Population Growth
Between 2011 and 2016 Ottawa’s population increased by 5.8%. This is slightly higher than the growth experienced in nearby Toronto.
Population growth in Ottawa is mostly the result of immigration. Around three quarters of new residents in Ottawa are either immigrants from abroad or internal migrants from other parts of Canada. The remaining quarter of Ottawa’s growth is due to natural population increase.
This table lists the population of Ottawa in each census year since 1901. It uses the city’s current boundaries as a reference point, and not its historic boundaries.
|Census Year||Population||% Growth|
Ottawa’s population is expected to continue growing over the next few decades. The city government predicts that by 2036 Canada’s capital city could be home to 1.2 million people. The city government also predicts that the population of the Ottawa Gatineau metro area will increase to around 1.8 million.
Ottawa Population Density
The city of Ottawa’s urban area covers 2,778 km². Based on its population at the time of the 2016 census Ottawa’s population density is 334.8 people per km².
As noted above Ottawa is officially a bilingual city. All of the city’s official services are available in both English and French and 45.5% of residents reported being able to speak both English and French.
English is the most common mother tongue spoken in Ottawa Gatineau. In 2011 English was the mother tongue of almost half (49%) the population. Nearly a third (31.4%) spoke French as their mother tongue and 16.7% of people had a mother tongue that was neither English nor French.
The most commonly spoken mother tongue that is not an official language of Canada is Arabic, which is spoken by 3.1% of the population of Ottawa. This is followed by Spanish (1.3%) and Chinese (1.1%). the table below lists the ten most common mother tongues in Ottawa in 2011.
Ethnicity in Ottawa
Ottawa is one of the least ethnically diverse cities in Canada. In the 2011 census just 19.2% of the population of Ottawa reported that it was a visible minority (this is a classification used by Statistics Canada). Black, Arab and Chinese were the three most commonly reported minority groups.
This is less than half the visible minority population of Toronto (47%) and Vancouver (45.2%), but roughly comparable to the cities of Montreal (20.3%) and Winnipeg (19.7%). It is almost identical to the national average across Canada which is 19.1%.
The latest data on ethnicity in Ottawa is from the 2006 census which revealed five major groups of ethnic origin in the city. They are: Canadian (28.4%), English (24.3%), Irish (22.5%), French (21.5%) and Scottish (19.8%).
The table below lists every ethnic origin in Ottawa reported by 2.5% or more of the population.
Note: People were able to select more than one ethnic origin, which is why the percentages add up to more than 100%.
Religion in Ottawa
Christianity is the largest single religion in Ottawa. The 2011 census reported that 65.4% of people in Ottawa followed a Christian faith. More than a third of Ottawans (38.4%) were Roman Catholic, 6.5% were Anglicans and 6.2% were members of the United Church.
The second largest group of respondents (22.8%) was people who reported no religion.
Islam (6.7%) was the next largest religious group, followed by Hinduism (1.4%), Buddhism (1.3%), and Judaism (1.2%).