“Love hurts,” sang the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Cher, and a lot of other folks. While the vast majority of Valentine’s Day coverage focuses on what happy couples are getting up to, we’ve decided to be contrarians and take a look at one of the downsides of love this week: divorce. With the latest national data on divorce rates coming from the 2011 Census of Canada, we’ve mapped out where those whose marriages have ended are living across the country. Unlike past Maps of the Week, it’s a bit harder to pick out geographic patterns of significance, but we’ve done our best to make sense of the data.
The areas of highest concentration of divorced individuals are seen in southern British Columbia and Québec, similar to the geography of common-law partnership seen in our recent map here. It is interesting to note that divorce is not as popular in the major urban centres of Vancouver and Montreal as it is in the suburbs and rural areas that surround them. One would think that for those who are interested in settling down with another long-term partner, cities would offer more opportunities for meeting new people – but maybe the popularity of online dating has tempered the role of the local singles bar. It seems as though Prairies marriages seem to do pretty well, given the low rates of divorce across Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The highest divorce rate in Canada is seen in Birch Lake, Alberta, where nearly 1/3 of the population has a legal ex. According to Statistics Canada, Birch Lake is a “summer village” comprised mainly of cottagers. Our theory as to why this number is so high is that nobody wanted to give up access to their seasonal retreat, so lots of amicable time-share agreements were worked out amongst the locals.