This month in Mean, Median, and Moose, we take a look at Canadian’s close encounters in their spare time. From body checking hockey players, to bluff charging bears. From playing space invaders to sighting them, we’ve got you covered.
Infrastructure matters when it comes to leisure activities. If there is no bike trail, arena, park or other infrastructure near where you live you probably will be less likely partake in that activity. At a community specific level having the infrastructure in place is in some ways a prerequisite for participating in activities. Lucky for us Infrastructure Canada Tract Leisure Infrastructure for all provinces and nationally with a biannual survey. This survey is under the catchy name of Inventory distribution of publicly owned culture, recreation and sport facilities by physical condition rating.
There are some data suppression issues that likely have to do with sample issues as municipalities are the ones who complete this survey. There is currently data for 2016 and 2018 but the various statistical gaps makes it hard to compare over time.
For the province of Ontario, highest rated leisure facilities (rated good or very good) are indoor walking tracks, indoor gymnasiums and indoor pools over 50 metres long (a combined rating of 64.8, 63.1, 61.2 respectively). On the other end of the spectrum the poorest (poor or very poor) rated facilities were outdoor tennis/pickleball courts; outdoor pools and single pad arenas (25, 21, and 21 respectively). Indoor fitness areas and paved walking paths had the highest occurrence of unknown conditions (50.2 and 40.3 respectively).
No data was collected as a part of this survey from indigenous communities.
Canadian Pastimes and Video Games
Let’s switch gears and take a look at what Canadians and video gaming. For fun, to start, let’s look at some Google trends:
It was a particularly good year for bicycles last year. The seasonality of searches for bicycles and board games makes sense…. But why aren’t hockey sticks?
Actually, if you look at the data over 5 years, they are. The pandemic had a large effect. There are going to be a lot of asterisks over 2020 and 2021 in the future.
Video Gaming Participation
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) performs a survey every year providing demographic and opinion data related to video games. The statistics are good but their report mostly just lists them. We’ll put them in some charts to help compare to sports participation. First let’s look at the percentage of people identifying as gamers:
In addition to this the report indicates that 89% of people aged 6 to 17 play video games – some people just don’t identify as gamers but still play games. 61% of those between the ages of 18 and 64 also play games:
Statistics Canada’s general social survey also looks at participation rates for various activities. Here’s what that looked like for 2015 across some selected activities:
Playing video games falls under “Use of technology”. Note that the numbers here are much lower than the 61 and 89% specified by the ESA survey. This is likely a result of how they define participation. ESA does not provide details on what they consider “someone who plays video games” but it is likely much broader than the Statistics Canada definition of participation being a respondent “who did the activity on their reference day”. Another factor was that the last general social survey was done in 2015 while the last ESA survey was done in 2020 – gaming may have increased and it’s a special year where more people may be gaming given the pandemic.
One last thing before we leave this topic. It’s interesting to look at gender differences in “use of technology” participation across age groups. Men use technology more in younger years but the gap narrows and interestingly shifts to women in age groups between 45 and 65 years old.
Let’s see how that compares to the 2020 ESA survey:
Note that the age groups here are different including the ESA surveying people under 15. We see some but less of a narrowing after age 19, and Women never overtaking men. The differences here could be because Statistics Canada’s “Use of Technology” category includes more than just gaming including general computer use, surfing the internet, creating computer art, and music production.
Hours Spent Gaming
Next let’s look at the number of hours spent playing games (according to the ESA) and in the “Use of Technology” (according to Statistics Canada). Here’s the ESA:
Looks like playing games peaks at 13-17 years old and that boys play much more than girls. Statistics Canada’s graph has a very similar shape to the ESA’s survey (note again here that they don’t survey those under 15). Interestingly Statistics Canada’s hours spent here are much less than the ESA. Both statistics are related to the number of hours spent by participants instead of the population so the difference could be that people that play video games spend more time on it than other uses of technology.
Differences Between Provinces
To finish this off, let’s look at the differences between provinces. Here’s the provincial breakdown for Canada:
Note though that the range is pretty limited here – between 60% and 68% so the image above may exaggerate variation. There is no data for the territories. Also note that the ESA combines the Atlantic provinces into a single statistic.
Here’s what it looks like for Use of Technology Participation rate from Statistics Canada:
Surprisingly BC is the winner here instead of Saskatchewan. That might be the case because Statistics Canada rolled the prairie provinces into a single statistic and Alberta would drown out Saskatchewan in terms of population. But that would not explain Quebec’s participation being second best while being the lowest in the ESA survey. This is interesting because, for the other statistics, the patterns of data were very similar (even if the magnitudes were different). Here, the view of the provinces is quite different.
Canadian in Nature
Switching gears from animal crossing to crossing animals, from 2018-2019, Parks Canada recorded 25,096,236 visits to national parks. While the statistics for attendance don’t seem to get more detailed than this, it’s safe to say millions of Canadians enjoy visiting a national park for recreation each year. Though attendance stats aren’t very detailed, Parks Canada keeps very detailed records of human-wildlife conflict! Millions of Canadians are coming into contact with unruly Canadian geese, mighty prairie dogs, and nippy coyotes while out for a hike and a bike in Canada’s national parks.
So, what wildlife are Canadians most likely to conflict with in a national park? As you might’ve guessed – black bears rank number one for 2017, 2018, and 2019 with thousands of incidents each year, followed by elk and grizzly bears. The fourth ranking species: “None”. We aren’t quite sure what this could mean – is Parks Canada recording incidents that end up not involving a species at all? Along these lines, it’s good to note that this data reflects incidents actually reported to Parks Canada. The real numbers could be higher than these or skewed by the reporting person’s accurate identification of the species.
If you do encounter a species, you’re most likely to be bluff charged or be shown an aggressive display, which aligns with the behaviour of species you’re most likely to encounter – bears and elk.
So what exactly is done to resolve these incidents? It’s nice to see that most of the time, staff do not have to take drastic action against the animal. According to the data for 2017-2019, staff most often simply investigated the incident, followed by disposing the carcass of an unfortunate animal, and relocating the animal. Making it into the top ten incidents, however, was euthanasia, at just over 40 occurrences over the three years. This does seem fair considering the thousands of incidents that occur each year.
How long did it take staff to resolve these incidents? A total of 49,282.12 hours, or about 2,053 days worth of time. Parks Canada is putting quite a lot of staff time and money into Canadians’ sense of safety in our national parks. And where are you most and least likely to face a human-wildlife conflict? Pay close attention to your surroundings when visiting Jasper, Banff, Waterton Lakes, Pacific Rim, and Kootenay, as might be expected. Again, these are some of the most well-attended parks, however, so there naturally are more incidents reported here than in remote parks that are not so well-attended, but might have just as high of a likelihood of a wildlife encounter.
To sum up, Canadians love getting outside for a little leisure time, but as we know as Canadians, it’s important to be wildlife aware out there, or you might cause some trouble for yourself, the wildlife, and the Parks Canada staff tasked with keeping us safe – humans and wildlife alike!
Monsters and Aliens in Canada
One of the best “unofficial” sources of data is Wikipedia. There’s a ton of information on many topics, and it is often at least semi-structured. Many broad topics provide information in a consistent format across multiple articles, which makes the data amenable to scraping techniques, as John has talked about on previous shows. For example, articles about battles typically have an information block identifying the belligerents, leaders,and strength of the different units involved.
For this episode, we looked at Wikipedia articles identifying paranormal activity in Canada: Monster sightings and UFO encounters. There is a Wikipedia topic for Canadian Legendary Creatures, but it is an incomplete list of mostly lake monsters. Wikipedia has an even better list of lake monsters around the world. The approach we took for turning this list into something we can map was mostly a manual process: copy and paste the list of Canadian lake monsters into a Google Sheet, geocode the list using the excellent geocoding add-in by SmartMonkey and use an online CSV to JSON converter to create JSON.
The Wikipedia article on UFO Sightings in Canada is a list of incidents with a brief description and an article that lists haunted locations in Canada. We followed a similar process here to turn this into a JSON file.