The Jewish Community of Ottawa, 2011

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of Ottawa, Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA

Principal Investigator(s): Charles Shahar

Study Dates: 2011 Canadian National Household Survey

Population Estimates:

The Jewish population of Ottawa numbered 14,005 people in 2011.

Jews comprised 1.2% of the total Ottawa population.

Jewish households accounted for 1.5% of all Ottawa metropolitan households.

Key Findings:

There are eight reports (in four volumes) on Jewish Ottawa, plus one Brief on Fertility rates among Ottawa's Jewish community. All data are based on the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey.

Charles Shahar authored Part 1 Basic Demographics and Part 2 Geographic Areas of Residence, which were issued as a combined report in June, 2014. Part 3 on Jewish Seniors and Part 4 on The Jewish Poor were released as a combined report by Shahar in September, 2014.  In January 2015, Charles Shahar and co-author Randal Schnoor released Part 5: The Jewish Family and Part 6: Intermarriage.  In April 2015, Charles Shahar issued the Brief on fertility rates among Ottawa Jews.  In September 2015, Shahar issued the volume on Immigration & Language and Core FSU Jews.

Population and Demography

• The Jewish population of Ottawa numbered 14,005 people in 2011. Jews comprised 1.2% of the total Ottawa population.

• Between 2001 and 2011 the Jewish community grew by only 375 individuals, or 2.8%. In the context of this finding, certain methodological considerations related to the National
Household Survey are discussed in this report.

• Ottawa has the fourth largest Jewish community in Canada, comprising 3.6% of the
country’s Jewish population. It recently surpassed Winnipeg in terms of the size of its Jewish population.

• The 25-44 year cohort has decreased slightly between 2001 and 2011, after showing dramatic declines in the decade before.

On the other hand, the 45-64 age group has continued to increase in size. There were 4,585 persons in this cohort in 2011, compared to 4,130 in 2001 and 2,060 in 1991. This bulge in the age distribution represents the “Baby Boomer” generation.

• The median age of the Ottawa Jewish community (41.7 years) is now older than that of the Canadian Jewish population (40.5 years). The high median age is likely related to the fact that a significant proportion of Ottawa’s Jewish community is now at least 45 years old, thereby skewing the average higher.


• The district with the largest Jewish population in the Ottawa Census Metropolitan Area
(CMA) is Nepean South, with 2,820 Jews.

Centretown has the second largest community, with 2,395 Jewish residents.

• Nepean South has the highest density of Jews, who comprise 4.3% of its total populace.
Ottawa West has the next highest density, with Jews comprising 3.6% of its overall

•  Nepean South has the largest number of Jewish children (510), and Jewish teens and young adults (510). Centretown has the largest number of Jews 25-44 years (705), whereas Nepean South has the largest number of Jews 45-64 years (1,010).

• Jewish residents in Alta Vista have a median age of 49.2 years, the highest of any Jewish population in the Ottawa CMA. The lowest median age is found for the Centretown Jewish community (34.6 years)

Jewish Seniors

• There are 1,970 Jewish elderly 65+ years residing in the Ottawa CMA.

• Seniors comprise 14.1% of the 14,005 members of the Jewish community here.  These figures do not include Jewish seniors living in institutions.

• The percentage of elderly in the local Jewish community (14.1%) is higher than the
proportion of seniors in the overall Ottawa population (11.7%). However, the percentage of
Jewish seniors here is lower than that for the Canadian Jewish population (16.9%).

• A significant number of elderly Jews reside in Alta Vista (380). There are 350 Jewish seniors living in Ottawa West, and 315 in Centretown.

• While seniors represent 14% of all Ottawa's Jews, they account for 25.6% of all Jews who live alone.

• More than a third (37.4%) of elderly Jewish women in the Ottawa CMA live alone,
comprising 320 individuals. Only 14.8% of elderly men live in single person households.

• A total of 110 seniors live below the poverty line, or about 6% of the elderly Jewish

• About half of seniors (50.5%), or 955 individuals, report experiencing some type
of disability.

The Jewish Poor

There are 1,245 Jews living below the poverty line in the Ottawa CMA. The poor comprise
8.9% of a total population of 14,005 Jews residing in the local community.

• In the last decade, the number of disadvantaged Jews has decreased by 135 individuals. The percentage of poor in the community has decreased from 10.1% to 8.9% between 2001 and 2011.

• The largest contingent of Jewish poor live in Centretown (310), but there are also significant numbers in Nepean West (280) and Nepean South (160).

• There are 360 “working poor” in the local Jewish community who earn wages that are not
sufficient to push their income above the poverty line.

The Jewish Family

• Within the Jewish community, the current level of those living in family arrangements
(83.7%) is slightly lower than in 1991 (84.3%).

• In 1991, there were 655 Ottawa Jews living in single parent families. When compared to the 2011 figure of 1,235, this represents an increase of 88.5% in the last two decades.

• About one in seven Jewish children (< 15 years) in Ottawa live in lone parent families

• In the last decade, the fastest growing groups as far as marital status is concerned were those choosing to live in common law arrangements (+52.1%) and those who are divorced / separated (+35%).

• Persons living alone comprise 13% of the total Jewish population in this metropolitan area.


• 40.4% of Jewish spouses / partners are married to, or partnered with, non-Jews in the Ottawa metropolitan area. This figure represents the intermarriage rate for the Ottawa Jewish community.  (In absolute terms, 2,815 of 6,975 Jewish spouses / partners are intermarried.)

• In the last decade, the intermarriage rate has increased from 32% in 2001 to 39.8% in 2011. The number of Jews living in intermarried families has increased from 3,390 in 2001 to 4,125 in 2011.

• In cases where both spouses are less than 30 years of age, the level of intermarriage is 54.5%. It is 34.6% when both spouses are at least 40 years old.

• About half of Jewish children under 15 years of age (living in couple families) reside in intermarried arrangements (46.4%). This represents 880 children.

• When both parents are Jewish, 92.1% of the youngest children in the family are identified as Jewish.

• However, in intermarried households, only 28.6% of youngest children are identified as Jewish.

• In cases where Jewish men intermarry, 19.9% of youngest children are identified as Jewish; whereas a much more significant proportion (41.1%) of youngest children are identified as Jewish when the (Jewish) mother intermarries.

Immigration & Language

• About a quarter (28.4%) of the Ottawa Jewish population are immigrants; the proportion of immigrants in the Ottawa Jewish community (28.4%) is lower than that of the
national Jewish population (33.1%), and lower than almost all other major Jewish centres in Canada.

• In the local Jewish population, there are 1,075 Jews who were born in the Former Soviet
Union. There are also 795 Jews who were born in the United States, 570 born in Western
Europe, 500 in Eastern Europe, and 490 in Israel.

• Between 2000 and 2011, the largest number of Jewish immigrants originated in the Former Soviet Union (345). An even larger number arrived between 1990 and 1991 (505). In fact, the significant influx of FSU-born immigrants in the last two decades has contributed a large recent increase to the Ottawa Jewish population.

• This pattern represents among the largest immigrant influxes from a single country or region to the Ottawa metropolitan area in the history of the Jewish community here.

• Those born in Israel are the youngest of any immigrant group in the Ottawa Jewish
community, with a median age of 32.6 years. The oldest groups include Jews born in Iraq
(66.6 years), Egypt (66.2 years), Poland (64.7 years), and Germany (64.7 years).

Core FSU Jews

• The total number of Core FSU Jews in the Ottawa CMA was found to be 1,610. Individuals of Core FSU extraction comprise 11.5% of the total population of 14,010 Jews residing in the Ottawa Metropolitan Area.

• The median age of Core FSU Jews (40.4 years) is lower than that of "Other Jews" living in the Ottawa CMA (42 years).

• There is a large representation of Core FSU Jews in Nepean South (340). There are also large numbers of Core FSU Jews in Nepean West (265), Kanata / Residual West (240), and Alta Vista (200).  The Jewish community of Nepean South has the largest number of Core FSU children less than 15 years (80), teens and young adults 15-24 years (50), and middle-aged persons 45-64 (105).

Fertility Rates

Brief on "Fertility Rates of Ottawa's Jewish Community" was added to the 2011 NHS analysis in April 2015, paralleling a similarly issued five-to-six page “Brief” for most of the major Jewish communities in Canada.  Table 1 indicates that the Jewish fertility rate estimate is 1.53 for Ottawa Jews (well below the standard 2.1 replacement rate standard).  Other tables compare fertility rates among Jewish communities in Canada, and to fertility rates among major ethnic groups in Canada.




Study Notes:

DataBank users should review the Appendices to the report in addition to the main text and summary of findings. 

The Appendices include discussions of the utility of the National Household Survey of 2011 (which replaced earlier Census "long-form" data collection efforts), a discussion of the Revised Jewish Definition used in 2011 and a comparison with the Standard Jewish Definition used in earlier Census-based reports on Jewish Canada, a discussion of ethnic origin attribution used in the definition of Jewish persons, and supplemental, additional tables on both demographics and geography

Language: English