The population of Ottawa is 960,756. 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 2011 was 265,349.

Together the two cities make up the National Capital Region of Canada, known as Ottawa-Gatineau.

Latest data from Statistics Canada indicates that he population of the wider Ottawa–Gatineau metro area is 1,332,001 people. This makes it the sixth largest Census Metropolitan area in Canada and home to 3.7% of the total population of 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 2005 and 2015, the Ottawa-Gatineau population grew by 15%. This matches the average growth rate in Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs), which is also 15% and is not far off growth rates in Vancouver (16%) and Toronto (17%). It is less than half the growth rate in some of Canada’s more dynamic CMAs, including Calgary (32%) and Edmonton (31%).

Population growth in Ottawa is mostly the result of immigration. Around three quarters of new residence 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
1901 101,102 n/a
1911 123,417 22.1%
1921 152,868 23.9%
1931 174,056 13.9%
1941 206,367 18.6%
1951 246,298 19.3%
1961 358,410 24.8%
1971 471,931 14.1%
1981 546,849 5.1%
1991 678,147 11.8%
1996 721,136 6.3%
2001 774,072 7.3%
2006 812,129 4.9%
2011 883,391 8.8%

Ottawa’s population is expected to continue growing over the next few decades. The city government predicts that the population will past 1 million in 2017 and that by 2031 the city could be home to just over 1.2 million people. The city government also predicts that the population of the Ottawa Gatineau metro area will increase to between 1.6 million and 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 2011 census (883,3910) Ottawa’s population density is 316.6 km².

The Ottawa Gatineau metro area is spread across an area twice the size ( 5716 km²). Based on its 2011 population (1,236,324) the population density of Ottawa-Gatineau is 196.6 people per km².

Ottawa Languages

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.

Other language16.7%

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.

Language Number Percentage
English 599,300 49.0%
French 384,160 31.4%
Arabic 38,080 3.1%
Spanish 16,260 1.3%
Chinese 14,055 1.1%
Italian 10,910 0.9%
Mandarin 7,515 0.6%
German 7,140 0.6%
Portuguese 7.030 0.6%
Cantonese 6,960 0.6%

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.

Visible Minority19.2%
Not a Visible Minority80.8%

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.

Ethnic Origin Population Percentage
Canadian 227,490 28.4%
English 194,845 24.3%
Irish 180,525 22.5%
French 172,165 21.5%
Scottish 158,340 19.8%
German 67,660 8.4%
Italian 39,230 4.9%
Chinese 34,435 4.3%
Polish 25,685 3.2%
Dutch 22,700 2.8%
First Nations 21,600 2.7%

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

No Religion22.8%

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%).