New census data shows the population of the metropolitan area of Ottawa-Gatineau outpaced the national growth rate over the last five years — a period of time that saw the country spiral into the most serious economic tailspin since the Great Depression.

Statistics Canada released the first batch of numbers from the 2011 census on Wednesday and the population of what the government agency refers to as the census metropolitan area of Ottawa-Gatineau increased by 9.1 per cent since the last census in 2006.

The area's growth rate was above the national growth rate of 5.9 per cent, while the population of Ontario increased by 5.7 per cent.

Census metropolitan areas do not conform to established municipal boundaries. Statistics Canada defines them as a metropolitan area with a population of at least 100,000, where the urban core of that area has at least 50,000 people. Commuting patterns and other factors are used in determining these census metropolitan areas.

Looking at metropolitan areas this way takes into account the growing impact of suburban areas on Canada's largest cities.

When the 2011 census was taken last May 10, the population of the census metropolitan area of Ottawa-Gatineau was 1,236,324, compared with 1,133,633 from the 2006 census. The population of the actual city of Ottawa was 883,391 up from 812,129 in 2006.

The census indicated that Ottawa-Gatineau ranked No. 4 among the country's 33 census metropolitan areas.

The national census is conducted every five years. The information published Wednesday is the first of several releases of data to come from Statistics Canada over the next year and longer that will eventually paint a detailed picture of the country, right down to the local level — including age breakdowns of the population, family makeup, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, the level of education attained and income earned.

Selected Communities in National Capital Region20112006% change
Ottawa883,391812,1298.8
Gatineau265,349242,1249.6
Arnprior8,1147,15813.4
Clarence-Rockland23,18520,79011.5
Casselman3,6263,27510.7
Hawkesbury10,55110,869-2.9
Champlain8,573 8,683-1.3
L'Ange-Gardien5,0514,34816.2
Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette757774-2.2
Val-des-Monts10,4209,5399.2
Cantley9,8887,92624.8
Chelsea6,9776,7034.1
Papineauville2,1652,167-0.1
Plaisance1,1031,0247.7
Thurso2,4552,2996.8
Maniwaki3,9304,102-4.2