Hamilton is a port city in southeastern Ontario. It is the ninth most populous city in Canada with a population of 536,917 in the 2016 census and an updated population of 693,645 in 2020. Hamilton is nicknamed Steeltown for its history in steel manufacturing. It is the waterfall capital in the world with over 130 waterfalls waiting to be explored in and around the city. Read on and learn more about the colorful city of Hamilton. 


There are 536,917 people living in Hamilton based on the 2016 census data. The population gre 3.3% from its population in the 2011 census. Although Hamilton’s population has significantly grown since 2016, this article will focus mainly on the 2016 census data as it provides the most complete information up to date.

Majority of the population are working age at 66.5% or 356,890 between the ages of 15 to 64 years old. This is followed by 17.3% or 92,910 at the age of 65 years and over, and 16.2% or 87,120 between the ages of 0 to 14 years old. 

The most common type of dwelling in Hamilton are single-detached houses occupied 121,215 of the population. The least common type is movable dwelling with only 365 of the population living in this type of dwelling. The average household size in Hamilton is 2.5 persons.

For the population above the age of 15, the majority are married or living common law at 246,910 of the population, while those who were not or never married totaled to 202,890. Total couple families are significantly higher at 120,715 of the population than lone-parent families at 28,640 of the population. Lone-female parents totaled to 23,090, while lone-male parents totaled to 5,550.


Majority of Hamilton’s population have European ethnic origins, most of which are British at 224,420 of the population. The second most common ethnic origin is North American, most of which are Canadians at 124,935 of the population. Here are the five most common ethnic origins in Hamilton based on the 2016 census. 

  1. European origins – 383,000
  2. North American origins – 129,550
  3. Asian origins – 74,200
  4. North American Aboriginal origins – 17,665
  5. African origins – 14,435

The biggest minority group in Hamilton are South Asians accounting to 4.2% of the population. Here are the eight most common minority groups in Hamilton based on the 2016 census. 

  1. South Asian – 22,105 (4.2%)
  2. Chinese – 10,070 (1.9%)
  3. Black – 20,245 (3.8%)
  4. Filipino – 8,150 (1.5%)
  5. Latin American – 8,425 (1.6%)
  6. Arab – 10,330 (2%)
  7. Southeast Asian – 6,505 (1.2%)
  8. West Asian – 4,800 (0.9%)

English is the most common mother tongue in Hamilton accounting to 73.5% or 389,870 from the population. French only accounts to 1.3% or 6,670 from the population. Those who recorded a non-official language as their mother tongue accounts for 23.1% or 122,535 of the population. Here are the five most common mother tongue used in Hamilton that is not a non-official language based on the 2016 census.

  1. Italian – 15,380
  2. Arabic – 8,585
  3. Spanish – 7,725
  4. Polish – 7,275
  5. Portuguese – 7,270

Christanity is the biggest religion at 67.6% of the population based on the 2011 census. Catholics are the most predominant Christians at 34.3% of the population. Here are the 6 most common religions in Hamilton.

  1. Christian- 67.6%
  2. Islam – 3.7%
  3. Buddhist – 0.9%
  4. Sikh – 0.8%
  5. Hindu – 0.8%
  6. Jewish – 0.7%

Immigrant Population

There are 130,365 immigrants in Hamilton based on the 2016 census. The period between 2006 to 2010 saw the most number of immigrants at 13,410 people, which is slightly higher than the 13,150 people between 2011 to 2016. 

The most common age of immigration is between the ages of 25 to 44 years old. Here’s the breakdown of the immigrant population by the age they immigrated to Hamilton. 

  1. Under 5 years – 14,640 
  2. 5 to 14 years – 26,920 
  3. 15 to 24 years – 31,680 
  4. 25 to 44 years – 48,430 
  5. 45 years and over – 8,695 

The most common type of immigrants by admission category are economic immigrants. Here are the numbers based on the immigrants who landed between 1980 to 2016.

  1. Economic immigrants – 30,250 
  2. Immigrants sponsored by family – 25,160 
  3. Refugees – 24,535 
  4. Other immigrants – 1,285 

Majority of the immigrants who came to Hamilton are from Europe, followed by Asia. Here are the five biggest immigrant populations in Hamilton by country of birth. 

  1. United Kingdom – 13,965
  2. Italy – 10,790
  3. India – 6,585
  4. Philippines – 5,890
  5. Poland – 5,775

Brief History

French explorer, Rene-Robert Cavelier, visited the site on what is now Hamilton in 1669. A settlement began in the area in 1778 after loyalists fled to the area. George Hamilton laid out the original town in 1815, and thus it was named after him. Hamilton saw rapid growth when the Burlington Canal opened in 1830. Hamilton grew in population and area size when it absorbed surrounding communities. Hamilton was incorporated as a city in 1846. Today, it is one of Canada’s leading economic centres, especially in the steel and metal industry. 

Top 3 Things To Do

Hamilton may not be in many lists of places to visit, but that’s only because the city’s numerous experiences and sights to see are underrated. There are things to do for everyone, from shopping to outdoor activities, and even a lively nightlife scene. Here are top 3 things you should do in Hamilton according to TripAdvisor.

  1. Dundurn Castle

Dundurn Castle is a 1,700 square metre neoclassical mansion located in York Boulevard. It was built in 1835 by architect Robert Charles Wetherell. It is currently owned by the City of Hamilton which purchased the property in 1899 or 19000 for $50,000. A guided tour is offered through the 40 rooms in this Italian-style villa. 

  1. HMCS Haida National Historic Site

HMCS Haida National Historic Site is the only remaining Tribal Destroyer ship in the world, and is Canada’s most popular warship. It is now a floating museum that visitors can tour and explore.

  1. Bayfront Park

Over $9 million was spent on the former vacant land on what is now Bayfront PArk, a 16-hectare park in the west of Hamilton Harbour. It is a site for various summer festivals and concerts. There is a beach, fishing spots, walking and biking trails, and parking spots located in the area. You will never run out of things to do and explore in this park. 

Top 3 Industries

Hamilton has a hard working heritage, and combined with modern technology it has created a very diverse and modern economy that attracts digital business and traditional industries alike. Here are the top three key industries of Hamilton. 

  1. Advanced Manufacturing

Steeltown is Hamiton’s nickname because of its long history as a steel producer. Now the manufacturing of primary materials continues to be one of the city’s main industries. It is home to the largest fabrication, processing and evaluation research centre for metals in Canada, Canmet MATERIALS. 

  1. Agribusiness and Food Processing

There are over 120 f&b manufacturing businesses in Hamilton employing over 9,500 workers. Hamilton’s agribusiness extends up to the food processing supply chain. 

  1. Creative Industries

There was a 16% recent employment increase in the creative industries sector in Hamilton, and there are over 2,500 businesses in the creative industries headquartered in the city. Hamilton’s creative industries include music, film, fashion, arts, performance and written works. 

Cost of Living

Hamilton is more affordable compared to other major cities in Canada. A one-bedroom apartment located in the city centre can cost $1,300, while outside the city centre it can cost $1,200. A three-bedroom apartment in the city centre can cost $2,000, while outside the city centre it can cost $1,900. Basic utilities average $180 monthly, and internet bills cost $80 monthly. A monthly pass for the public transport system in Hamilton costs $110 and 1 litre of gasoline costs $1.06. 

A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs an average of $16, while a meal for 2 at a mid-range restaurant costs an average of $75. Common grocery items like a litre of milk costs $2.29, 500g white loaf bread costs $2.77, 1 kg rice costs $3.36, a dozen eggs cost $3.31, and 1 kg chicken fillets costs $13.

Employment Rate

Based on the 2016 census, Hamilton has a participation rate of 63.2% or 278,640 people who are in the labor force. The employment rate in Hamilton is 58.7% or 259,065 people who are employed, and the unemployment rate is 7.0% or 19,575 people who are unemployed. 

Here are the five most common occupations in Hamilton and the corresponding number of people who work in the listed occupation. 

  1. Sales and service occupations – 66,560
  2. Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations – 40,685
  3. Business, finance and administration occupations – 38,810
  4. Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services – 33,110
  5. Management occupations – 26,770

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