Shania Twain

From Jixxr to Jennifer: 25 top facts on the year in popular (and not so popular) baby names

B.C., Nova Scotia and Manitoba released their annual lists of top baby names this week, revealing only minor changes from year to year, or region to region. Like the names in almost every other province, they feature a collection of strong, two- and three-syllable names with lots of “l”s, “m”s, and “n”s. They also reveal some Canadians’ desire to make their kid stand out from the crowd, even if that means his name is Jixxr. The National Post‘s Jen Gerson has compiled a list of the top 25 baby name facts, in Canada and elsewhere. We know you’ll read it:

  1. There is little regional variation in baby names in Canada. The most popular names in B.C. generally reflect the most common names in Ontario.
  2. The most popular names for girls generally repeat across all provinces. This year, Olivia, Emma, Emily, Ava or Sophia made top five lists across the country.
  3. For boys, those names include Liam, Ethan, Lucas, Noah, William and Mason.
  4. In all of Canada, the most popular names were Olivia and Emma for girls, and Liam and Ethan for boys.
  5. Liam, a shortened form of William, means “strong-willed warrior and protector.”
  6. Olivia is the female form of Oliver. It means “olive tree.”
  7. According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 385,937 babies were born between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
  8. Most babies were born in Ontario and Quebec, with 142,448 and 88,250 newborns last year, respectively.
  9. The third most fertile province is Alberta. Almost 13,000 more babies were born in Alberta last year than in B.C., even though B.C. has a population that is larger by 560,000 people.
  10. Certain Atlantic provinces and Quebec bucked trends, preferring a more variable set of popular baby names.
  11. In two provinces, Newfoundland and P.E.I., the name Jaxon — from Jackson, or “son of Jack” — was among the most popular. With eight babies in 2013, Jaxon was tied for the fifth most popular name on P.E.I.
  12. Also tied for fifth place with eight babies in P.E.I. was Cohen. Although growing in popularity across North America, the use of the Jewish surname as a first name by non-Jews can be controversial. ‘‘The name Cohen is reserved for the priestly caste descended directly from the biblical Aaron,” one web site notes. The trend may have begun with The O.C.’s popular character Cohen, but you may also be able to blame Leonard.
  13. The most popular female name in P.E.I. in 2013 was Brooklyn (nine girls were thus named).
  14. Canadian names generally mirror popular American baby names. According to U.S. statistics, the most popular female names in 2013 were Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava. For boys, Noah, Liam, Jacob, Mason and William topped the list.
  15. Quebec bucked trends in the rest of the continent with names like Lea, (625 babies) Florence (455), Alice (439), Samuel (704) and Alexis (699) rounding out top-five lists. Liam was nowhere to be seen among the top five.
  16. Popular culture maintains a compelling pull on the minds of new parents. Fantasy-genre Game of Thrones inspired one-off names like Catelyn, Daenarys, Osha, Sansa, Tyrion and Theon in Ontario and Alberta. There were 97 Aryas in Ontario, for example. The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter spawned a few real-life monikers.
  17. Last year, the Alberta government pointed out its most unique baby names of 2013. Individual newborns carried names like Urban, Hurricane, Logic, One, Alias, and Jixxr. Girls’ names included Eunique, Conshens, Tempest, Arrow, and Lava.
  18. Ontario highlighted proper places, including 43 Londons, 41 Viennas, and 16 Parises.
  19. Canadian celebrity names are also proving popular, including 15 Drakes, 10 Shanias, 10 Crosbies, and nine Avrils. (The rapper Drake’s first name, by the way, is Aubrey, while Shania Twain’s first name is actually Eilleen.)
  20. British Columbia offers an interactive database that tracks baby name popularity over the past 100 years. It shows that of the top five most popular girls’ names in the province — Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Emily and Ava — Olivia is gaining in popularity. About 300 babies per year are now given that name per year in B.C., double what it was 15 years ago. Sophia appears to have plateaued, at about 200 babies.
  21. In B.C., the popularity of the name Emma peaked in 2003 with 352 babies. Emily reached its peak in 2000 with 363 babies.
  22. For boys in B.C., Liam, Lucas, Benjamin and Mason appear to be growing in popularity. Ethan peaked in 2002 at 419 newborns, and is on the decline.
  23. B.C. only starts recording name usage once a name is used more than five times in a year; that database shows that virtually no one in B.C. was named Olivia before 1974.
  24. Similarly, the records show no Avas prior to 1988.
  25. No recent baby names have come close to the popularity of Jennifer, which was the top female baby name in the U.S. between 1970 and 1984. There is no comparable data in Canada, but the trend seems to have held true here as well; in B.C., for example, 764 Jennifers were named in 1984. In 2013, that number had fallen to 15.