The rise and fall of school populations is one of the more obvious signs of whether a community is gaining or losing population. The recent news of Valley schools bursting at the seams is now confirmed by the publication of the 2021 census results for Official Language Minority Communities (OLMC – English speakers in Quebec and French speakers in the Rest of Canada).
The English-speaking population of the region (MRCs of Le Haut-Saint-Laurent, Beauharnois-Salaberry, and Les Jardins-de-Napierville) has increased by nearly 10 per cent since 2016, and the French-speaking population by 6 per cent. While fewer, the number of bilingual households has also shot up an substantial 74 per cent over the same period.
Not only are these results beneficial for area schools, but they also present an opportunity for The Gleaner, with nearly 600 new potential English-speaking households in the region to solicit as subscribers.
There are now 22,213 residents in the MRC Le Haut-Saint-Laurent, with almost 31 per cent of those declaring themselves as English speakers; 68,322 in MRC Beauharnois-Salaberry (4.5 per cent English-speaking); and 30,339 in MRC Les Jardins-de-Napierville (6.6 per cent English-speaking).
Most of the significant changes in the overall population has occurred in “wedge” communities, those municipalities situated between the larger towns of Valleyfield, Beauharnois, and Chateauguay, and the countryside. Saint-Étienne-de Beauharnois and Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague grew by 32 per cent in five years, Ste-Barbe by 21 per cent, and Sainte-Clotilde by 63 per cent!
The MRC Le Haut-Saint-Laurent grew by 4.5 per cent, almost the same as for Quebec as a whole.
For the English-speaking community the big growth was in Valleyfield, where the percentage of English speakers grew by nearly 600 people. Combined with an additional 235 individuals who declared that they speak both official languages at home (bilingual families), the percentage of the Valleyfield population speaking English increased by over 50 per cent during the five years between 2016 and 2021. Even in Huntingdon, where the town has struggled since the closure of the textile mills in 2004, the population grew by nearly 5 per cent.
The small rural communities along the southern and western borders of the MRC were less fortunate, with Saint-Chrysostome, Havelock, Franklin, Elgin, and Sainte-Agnes-de-Dundee registering minor population declines. Being just out of commuting range to the larger urban centres no doubt played a part in this trend, as these communities experienced significantly less growth in the number of private dwellings between 2016 and 2021 (less housing development).
You can download the 2021 Census results for The Gleaner’s primary distribution area from The Gleaner’s website here: The Gleaner_20162021 census comparison_Nov 2022
Publisher, The Gleaner