Canadian Names Unite the Nation
Canada’s baby names sometimes get overshadowed by its more populous neighbor to the south, but it has a distinct and diverse name landscape of its own.
One reason for this is the lack of national statistics. The USA releases its top baby names each year to great fanfare. But each Canadian province and territory publishes its top names at different times of the year, with different conventions about how to count spellings and how much data to release.
There are also wild differences between the thirteen provinces and territories that make national comparisons feel a bit unbalanced. For example, population size varies hugely. 85% of Canadian babies are born in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta or British Columbia. The raw numbers of baby names from the rest of the country are a drop in the ocean, so is it worth combining them?
And then there’s the English–French divide. Although some names are popular everywhere in Canada (as we’ll see below), the charts in Quebec are quite different from any other province. The Top 10 includes Beatrice, Rosalie, Raphael and Edouard. Combine the figures with the rest of the country and these names slip down to the 30s and 40s, obscuring how popular they are for French Canadians.
With all these things in mind, there’s still plenty to say about baby names in Canada. We’ve rounded up the nation’s most popular names, and the Top 10 in each province and territory.
Popular all-round Canadian names
Looking more widely, despite local differences there are 26 girl names and 37 boy names in the Top 100 for all four of Canada’s most populous provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia). These are not too different from American parents’ taste: the only ones not in the US Top 100 are Rose for girls, and Felix and Zachary for boys.
Distinctively Canadian names
The following names are in the Top 100 in two or three of the largest provinces, but not in the US. This means that, if you meet a North American child with one of these names, the odds are slightly in favor of them being Canadian.
Top names in Canadian provinces and territories
We’ve rounded up the most recent baby name charts for each province and territory. Some publish a huge amount of data that’s well worth delving into, so do follow those links for more Canadian namey goodness!
Ontario, the most populous province (over a third of Canadians live there), releases its annual baby name data near the end of the following year, so we don’t have the 2019 figures yet. It includes all names given to six or more girls or boys. Names with accents are considered different spellings — so Chloe, Chloé and Chloë are counted separately.
Quebecois names are a real treat. Not only do they have a unique style, with elements of French and North American trends, but the government publishes every name registered each year. Even those given to just one child. Even the triple-barreled ones. Enjoy!
Alberta is another name-lover’s dream, publishing every single name used each year. Right down to the two children named Zyva and Zzayden.
BC publishes every name given to five or more girls or boys.
Manitoba only releases its top ten baby names, within its annual report for the next year.
Saskatchewan is another province of limited data: they only published the top 20 baby names for 2018, and we haven’t seen 2019’s names yet. We’re talking much smaller population sizes now, so to make the Top 20, a name had to be given to just 39 boys, or 29 girls.
This Atlantic province released only the Top 12 names for 2019, so we’ve included them all.
We only have the Top 10 names for 2018, which combine all spellings. For a deeper dive, you can find Top 100 lists for earlier years here.
In this tiny province, it doesn’t take many babies to make a top-ranking name. The raw numbers are included here.
In the sparsely-populated territories, we really get into the low name figures.
The last we heard from Nunavut was in 2015, when there was a three-way tie for the top spot for both sexes.
Did any of these names surprise you? Canadian Berries, which names do you see a lot where you live?
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on October 15th, 2020 at 10:32 am
Ontario berry here! I know two girls named Athena, both in my niece’s class! Working with kids, I see a lot of Avery, Hadley, Lily, Charlotte, Amelia and Isla for little girls, and a lot of Liam and Harrison for boys.
Clare Green Said
on October 24th, 2020 at 11:20 am
Thanks for sharing, @leafsgirl44! I love that Athena is big in Canada.
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