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How Many Provinces does Canada Have?

By David White
Updated May 23, 2024
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Canada is a vast country, with expansive land and many cities and towns and cultures. It is the world's second-largest country, in terms of the total area of land and water within its borders. It is relatively young as a country, however, the country being formed formally only in 1867. There are ten Canadian provinces and three territories that together make up the country as a whole.

The provinces of Canada are Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The territories are the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon Territory. The main difference between a Canadian territory and a province is that a Canadian province derives its powers directly from the Crown, according to the Constitution Act of 1867. Territories get their powers from the Canadian federal government.

The original Canadian provinces are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. These comprised the Dominion of Canada, which had a central government in the current capital of Ottawa. Three more provinces joined the country during the six years after confederation: Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. In 1905, two more, Alberta and Saskatchewan, came on board. The last to join up was Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1949.

Ontario is the most populous of the provinces of Canada, by a wide margin. Quebec is second in population, and British Columbia and Alberta are third and fourth, respectively. Quebec is often the most contentious of the provinces of Canada because of its large French-speaking population, some of whom want independence from the other, English-speaking, provinces of Canada.

The various Canadian provinces and territories have similarly federated legislative assemblies, although many have different formal names. Seven of them have a Legislative Assembly. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have a House of Assembly. Quebec's head legislative body is called the National Assembly. In all cases, the province or territory has just one legislative house. In contrast, the national government is bicameral.

This idea of provincial and territorial independence extends to economic and cultural activities as well, with each of the Canadian provinces or territories or having its own identity. In western Canada, British Columbia is known as a great tourist mecca, Alberta is known for its oil and natural gas reserves, and Saskatchewan is known for its vast wheat fields. Looking eastward, Manitoba is known for its agriculture and its bison, Ontario is known as being the business hub of the country — specially with the largest city, Toronto — and Quebec is known for being different than the rest of Canada.

Of the coastal provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its fishing pursuits and its independent heritage. New Brunswick has the largest French presence outside of Quebec, and Port Hardy, one of the largest ports in the country. Nova Scotia is known for its lighthouses and its lobsters. Potatoes are the main claim to fame of Prince Edward Island.

The Canadian territories are relatively wild by comparison, although the Yukon Territory comes the closest to having an urban feel. The gold rush helped drive the population increase in this territory, and the frontier mentality still exists despite the presence of larger cities and shopping malls. The Northwest Territories and Nunavut are vast, icy places with small populations and more old-fashioned lifestyles. Some large cities exist, of course, but they in no way approximate the urban nature of Toronto and Quebec City.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon286382 — On Aug 20, 2012

I was born and raised in Canada and I've never been expected to speak both English and French, although Quebec does predominately speak French.

By anon286381 — On Aug 20, 2012

I live in Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba), and yeah, it's pretty sweet here. Yes it can get kind of cold in the winter (-45 including windchill) but the summers get pretty hot at times too (+45 including humidex). P.S. Winnipeg is an underrated city. It's beautiful.

By anon142495 — On Jan 13, 2011

There is not an Alberta City. The main cities in Alberta are Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary's known for its cowboy atmosphere and white collar engineering industry, primarily catering to oil and gas and mining worldwide. There is an annual Stampede in calgary which lasts a week and the city is one big party with companies sponsoring free breakfasts and parades.

Edmonton is called the gateway to the north and is primarily manufacturing. (blue collar workers.)

By anon142492 — On Jan 13, 2011

Also for your students: Canada has two official languages: French and English. Canadian citizens are expected to be bilingual. We officially use the Metric (SI )measurement but are still versed in the Imperial measurement system. Canadian population is approx 10 percent of the US population. Canada has a universal health care system in place.

By anon142488 — On Jan 13, 2011

The information provided on this site is extremely basic at best. Please do some more research on the provinces, cities, industries, history as much is outdated and most is very, very thin. Also an overview on how Canada was brought together as a country would be informative.

By anon96729 — On Jul 16, 2010

Canada's awesome by the way. i have been there. the best food is peach pie; you should definitely try it! from Rosie

By anon93019 — On Jul 01, 2010

Interesting. thanks!

By anon71444 — On Mar 18, 2010

Canada is definitely awesome.

By anon60045 — On Jan 11, 2010

you rock like crazy, canada!

By anon49847 — On Oct 23, 2009

canada rules.

By anon46304 — On Sep 24, 2009

Go canada!

By anon43392 — On Aug 28, 2009

i would like to visit canada one day.

By anon8443 — On Feb 13, 2008

This is...pretty cool. I'll come here again

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