Getting to know Western Canada

Getting to know a region through statistics isn't an easy business. But useful patterns can emerge as you poke through the numbers.

Getting to know a region through statistics isn’t an easy business. But useful patterns can emerge as you poke through the numbers.

A close look at consumer behaviour data reveals that westerners are closer to Torontonians than either group might want to admit, but what distinctions there are do seem to hark back to pioneer stereotypes.

For instance, where do you think more people drink rye: Toronto or Western Canada? (For our purposes, Western Canada includes the population of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.) It’s a no-brainer.

Just over 21% of those in Western Canada drink rye, compared to only 16% of those in Toronto.

How about champers? Toronto or Western Canada? Right again. About 17% of Torontonians drink champagne or sparkling wine, compared to only 14% of western Canadians.

When it comes to beer, we find that slightly more westerners partake overall, but looking at what that beer comes in is what’s revealing.

In Toronto the general opinion seems to be that soup and beans come in cans, not beer, with only 12% choosing metal vessels. Out West the sheer practicality of canned beer is embraced by almost 30% of the population.

Spending habits for the two regions tend to mirror consumer behaviour (see ‘Consumer spending’ below), and help to highlight the priorities of each.

Toronto households spend more on food, clothing and personal care in a year than those in Calgary or Vancouver. Westerners make up for the shortfall by forking out more for recreation, alcohol and tobacco.

Turning to activities, we’re back to the stereotypes. Many more westerners partake in crafts than Torontonians, and there’s a big increase in woodworking when you head west.

Outdoor sports, as you might imagine, are more popular in the West, but then so is bowling. Country music concerts tend to be more of a draw in the West (who knew?), but pop music is more popular everywhere.

If you’re really looking for a defining characteristic for the two populations, look to sports. Torontonians can be found at the ball game. Westerners? Try the hockey rink.