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Statistics Canada 2021 Census: MRC Pontiac Population increases for first time in over 15 years

Statistics Canada 2021 Census: MRC Pontiac Population increases for first time in over 15 years

3 January 2023 à 3:58 pm

The latest Statistics Canada’s Census for 2021, recently made public, shows that the population in the MRC Pontiac has increased for the first time in 15 years. The population has increased from 14,251 in 2016 to 14,764 (2021), i.e. 513 additional residents. This is still far removed from statistics in the 90s, where the MRC Pontiac had 15,576, residents, but the increase shown in the recent census seems to be a step in the right direction. The CHIP 101.9 newsroom analyzed and compared the various factors in this recent publication, including looking at the changes demographics in the Pontiac. Here is a first look into the demographic data for 2021.

No “boom”, but encouraging growth

The demographic decline over the past 20 years can certainly be attributed to local mills and factory closures, an aging of the population and a overall lack of retention of young people. However, the COVID-19 Pandemic seems to have had a positive impact on demographics of the Pontiac, which has contributed to attracting new residents. The increase in the Pontiac is clearly not a “boom,” or as high as elsewhere in the Outaouais region, but the increase of about 3.6% over 5 years is encouraging growth.

Without denigrating the growth in the MRC Pontiac, the increase in population in the MRC Pontiac is lower than the average across Quebec, at 4.1%. Same things at the regional level, the Outaouais experienced an increase of 5.9% over 5 years, which greatly exceeds the 3.6% of the Pontiac. A “boom” would be a rapid increase, above the average of neighboring regions and would be a dazzling increase, never been seen on a given territory. This does not present the growth seen in the MRC Pontiac , but it does represent an encouraging increase after more than 20 years of poor results in this area.

The use of the word “boom” employed by the MRC Pontiac in the past during momentary burst of enthusiasm, is not representative of the situation and does not meet the definition of a demographic “boom,” but Warden Jane Toller can still rejoice from the news of growth for the MRC Pontiac. Despite everything, the population increase in the Pontiac is lower than two of the rural sectors within the Outaouais region, namely the MRC Papineau and the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, the latter being sometimes considered a largely suburb sector with several municipalities bordering the City of Gatineau. The MRC Papineau has increased from 22,832 to 24,308 (+1,476, or by 6.5%) and the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais saw its population increase from 49,094 in 2016, to 54,498 (+5,004, or by over 11%).

The City of Gatineau has also seen a large increase of about 5% (from 276,245 to 291,041). On the other hand, the MRC Pontiac is not in last this time, the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau went from 20,182 to 20,547 (+ 365), which represents 148 residents less than the growth the MRC Pontiac, around 1.8% during this period. Knowing that this is the first increase for the MRC Pontiac in more than 20 years, it will be necessary to wait until 2026 before confirming that this is indeed a trend. The fact remains that there are encouraging signs in the MRC Pontiac data, such as the average age of the population, which is 46.6 years-old, which is lower than the MRC Papineau (46.7 years) and the Vallée-de-la-Gatineau (48.5 years).

The increases are not identical in all the MRC Pontiac’s municipalities however. Here is an overview of the different results within municipalities in the MRC Pontiac and the Municipality of Pontiac according to the 2021 Statistics Canada Census. We have included links to access all the demographics in the different municipalities analyzed.


Significant increases for Alleyn-et-Cawood, Bristol, Clarendon, Litchfield, Otter Lake, Shawville, Sheenboro and Thorne

The Municipality of Bristol experienced a significant increase between 2016 and 2021, with a more than 10% increase, going from 1,036 to 1,199 (+ 163).

The Municipality of Clarendon also experienced a strong increase, going from 1,256 to 1,392 (+136), representing an increase of 10.8%. Similarly, Shawville, its neighboring municipality, between 2016 and 2021, saw its population increase from 1,203 to 1,329, or by 10.5%.

In Otter Lake, the growth has been exceptional, between 2016 and 2021 the municpality went from 932 to 1,041 (+109), which represents a increase of 11%. The municipality of Thorne also saw an impressive growth going from 448 to 528 (+ 80), or a 17.9% increase, which is huge for the region and the province.

Litchfield also saw a growth of 8.9% between 2016 and 2021, going from 459 to 500 (+ 41). The most impressive growth however was in Alleyn-et-Cawood (Danford Lake), which recorded 172 residents in 2016. That number grew to 229 for the 2021 census (+ 57, or a 33.1% increase).

Another impressive increase was in the Municipality of Sheenboro, its population grew from 130 to 149, or by 14.6%.


Stable growth for two of the Pontiac islands

The growth of L’Île-du-Grand-Calumet is very similar to what happened in the Pontiac. Its population increased from 626 to 648 residents, a 3.5% increase. Similarly, L’Isle-aux-Allumettes has grown by 3.6%, having gone from 1,334 to 1,382 residents.

Stability for Chichester, Portage-du-Fort and Waltham

Other municipalities have had only slight increases, such as the Municipality of Chichester which now has two more residents. Mirroring Portage-du-Fort, who’s population decreased by two residents between 2016 and 2021, from 234 to 232.

The Municipality of Waltham saw an increase of nine (9) residents (+2.5%), from 278 to 287.


Flood impact altering results in Mansfield and Fort-Coulonge

The case of the Municipality of Mansfield-et-Pontefract, they did see a slight decrease of 1.5%, but this is largely due to the impact of the floods in 2019. The same can be said for its neighbor, Fort-Coulonge, which lost 8, 4% of its population. These two municipalities were hit hard by the floods in 2019, which displaced many residences destroying or leaving their homes temporarily. However, the two municipalities are currently undergoing the processes for getting building permits approved for many residential buildings. For example, the number of private accommodations went from 1,113 in 2016 to 1,074 in Mansfield-et-Pontefract. Same thing in Fort-Coulonge, going from 644 to 605. Between the two censuses, this community saw a loss of 78 homes due to the floods of 2019. Except that data from Static Canada is likely not up to date, since the construction permits were only processed in 2021, for Mansfield it’s 93, which greatly exceeds the number of homes lost recorded in the stats from 2020. This trend could only be temporary, the next census should answer many of the questions for both municipalities.


Losses in Bryson, Campbell’s Bay and Rapides-des-Joachims

The Municipality of Rapides-des-Joachims lost 9.5% of its population, or 15 residents since 2016, according to the 2021 Census. On the other hand, this Municipality will see the reopening of its plywood factory in January, which should have a positive impact on the population count.

The Municipality of Bryson, which will soon celebrate its 150th anniversary, saw a 7.1% decrease in its population between from 2016 to 2021, according to the 2021 Census.

Campbell’s Bay also experienced a loss in residents, -5.2% of its population.


The Municipality of Pontiac continues to grow alongside the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais statistics

The Municipality of Pontiac, in the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, or rather Breckenridge, Luskville and Quyon, experienced a growth of 5%, going from 2,585 to 6,142. Which is higher than the Quebec average at 4.1%, but less than half of the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais average of 11%.


Population in the MRC Pontiac over recent censuses

Year / Population:

2001   / 14,561

2006  / 14,586

2011   / 14,358

2016  /  14,251

2021  /  14,764


For more information about this 2021 Census, you can access the following link.