New census data from Statistics Canada shows the number of common-law couples rose by 13.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011, more than four times the growth of married couples.
And for the first time, the number of common-law families surpassed the number of single-parent households.
The province with the highest number of common-law relationships is Quebec with 31.5 per cent, followed closely by the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
Married couples at 67 per cent continue to be the dominant family arrangement, but the new census shows the family portrait hanging above the fireplace is more diverse than ever before.
The number of same-sex couples skyrocketed by more than 42 per cent, but the majority of them were choosing common-law arrangements.
Even still, the number of same-sex married couples tripled during the survey period to 21,015 in what is a reflection of the Martin government’s 2005 decision to legalize gay marriage.
The census also charts the growing number of empty-nesters.
The number of couples with children at home continued to fall from 44.5 per cent in 2006 to 39.2 per cent in the latest survey.
And for the first time, the census counted stepfamilies, registering 464, 335 of them or 12.6 per cent of couples with children.