If you’ve had a look at our Canada history guide, you’ll know that France and the United Kingdom play an important role in Canada’s past. Before the country gained its independence in 1867, the two countries were pivotal in the formation of colonies. As a result of this, two primary languages are used within the country.

Before jumping on a flight to Canada, you may have looked at a Canada travel guide, hoping to find out more about the languages used in the country


  • What languages are spoken in Canada?
  • How many provinces in Canada speak French?
  • How many different languages are spoken in Canada?

What languages are spoken in Canada?

Since colonies were historically owned by both the French and the British, Canada is bilingual. English, however, is the primary language, spoken by 56% of Canadians. This percentage rises to 90% when you consider those who speak English as their second language.

Both languages are used in the country’s federal government institutions under the Official Languages Act of 1969. For those employed by the government, this means that they can choose to work in either language. Similarly, any communication that the public has with the government can be received in either French or English.

Despite both languages being used by the government, one language sometimes takes precedence over another. This is the case in Québec, where their official language is French. With this in mind, whilst on a Canada holiday, you should find correspondence on things such as road signs in both languages.

How many provinces in Canada speak French?

Despite French being one of the two national languages, French is only considered to be the official language in six provinces. 20.6% of Canadians have French as their mother tongue, with 90% of Francophones living in Québec. This is due to the province having French as their official language.

Here is a guide to how many provinces in Canada speak French in 2012:

Province/Territory French Speaking Population Percentage (%)
Québec 8,214,000 93
Ontario 561,160 4.4
New Brunswick 234,410 31.6
Alberta 81,085 2.2
British Columbia 70,755 1.6
Manitoba 47,680 3.8
Nova Scotia 34,585 3.8
Saskatchewan 18,932 1.9
Prince Edward Island 5,685 4.1
Newfoundland and Labrador 3,015 0.6
Yukon 1,630 4.8
Northwest Territories 1,175 2.9
Nunavut 450 1.4

How many different languages are spoken in Canada?

Although French and English are the primary languages that can be heard in Canada, it has been suggested that as many as 200 other languages are spoken by those residing in the country. In fact, for 213,000 people in Canada, their first language is neither French or English.

Despite its status as a bilingual country, only 17% of Canadian’s are fluent in two languages. Mandarin and Cantonese are among the most common, although there is also a large German presence in the south. This should come as no surprise as approximately 6 million immigrants have moved to Canada to enjoy its beautiful views, fabulous culture and wonderful quality of life.

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