The great big Canadian family: One in 2,200 chance that a complete stranger is your cousin

New analysis from AncestryDNA suggests you may need a banquet hall for this year's holiday family gathering as findings reveal that the average Canadian may have over 15,000 living cousins.  

  • The probability of a Canadian finding a fourth cousin or closer was discovered using the AncestryDNA database
  • Analysis revealed that statistically, 1 in 2,200 Canadians is your cousin
  • With AncestryDNA users can discover and connect with new relatives, linking DNA results to a network of more than 16 billion historical records

TORONTO, Dec. 9, 2015 /CNW/ - According to new data from AncestryDNA, the average Canadian likely has over 15,000 living cousins, which means you have a one in 2,200 chance that a complete stranger is actually a distant relative1.

This should be welcome news to the 72 per cent of Canadians who said that spending time with family is what they like most about the holiday season, as revealed by a recent national survey. Looks like a larger family gathering spot may be in order.

To put this into perspective, every Canadian is likely to run into dozens, or even hundreds, of cousins every day without realizing it, no matter where they are in this great country:

  • If you hit the slopes during ski season in Whistler, you'll be joined by more than 900 cousins.
  • If you're planning to see Bonhomme at Quebec's world-famous winter carnival you could cozy up to nearly 270 cousins at the event.
  • Thinking of channeling your inner cowboy? Giddy up with nearly 640 relatives at the biggest stampede event in Calgary.
  • For those celebrating Canada Day in our nation's capital, get ready to watch fireworks on Parliament Hill with close to 160 relatives.
  • Commuting to Toronto? You'll bump into nearly 1,257 relatives daily.
  • The next time you tune in to watch your favourite hockey team, feel comforted by knowing you're cheering alongside 990 cousins every Saturday night2.

"The introduction of DNA testing has really revolutionized family history research and taken it to a whole new level. It's so exciting to be able to discover long lost connections and to realize that some of the strangers we pass by every day could actually be our extended family," said Lesley Anderson, family historian and content specialist for Ancestry.

AncestryDNA, which launched in Canada earlier this year, allows individuals to learn about their genetic heritage and discover new family connections in Canada and around the world. Through AncestryDNA, users are able to find family members they never knew existed through DNA member matches. These matches identify unknown relatives pulled from more than one million people who have previously taken the test. Many users can expect to be connected with 3rd and 4th cousins, allowing them to further grow their family trees and explore these new family connections.

The AncestryDNA test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing to look at more than 700,000 locations across an individual's entire genome through a simple saliva sample. This approach provides a much more detailed look at one's family history than other existing Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA tests that only look at specific branches of a person's family tree.

More information about AncestryDNA can be found at

ABOUT ANCESTRY.CA was launched in January 2006 and is part of, the world's largest online family history resource with more than 2 million subscribers across all its websites. More than 16 billion records have been added to the sites and users have created more than 70 million family trees containing more than 6 billion profiles. In addition to its flagship site, the company operates several global Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including,,, and offers the AncestryDNA product, sold by its subsidiary, DNA, LLC, all of which are designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

[1] These numbers are based on the total number of 4th cousin relationships and closer, observed between 4,800 Canadian customers in the AncestryDNA database. Due to the small representative sample available, this estimate may be biased by particular population patterns not representative of the Canadian population at large.

[2] To find the chance of sharing a space with a "cousin" we used the following equations: On average 2 million people visit Whistler every year (2,000,000 / 2,200 = 909); 600,000 people attended Quebec's Winter Carnival in 2014 (600,000 / 2,200 = 272); There are roughly 1.4 million Canadians who attend the Calgary stampede every year (1,400,000 / 2,200); 350,000 people went to Parliament Hill for Canada Day in 2014 (350,000 / 2,200 = 159); On average 2,184,000 viewers tune into Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night (2,184,000 / 2,200 = 992).


Image with caption: "One Great Big Canadian family: new analysis from AncestryDNA reveals that statistically 1 in 2,200 Canadians is your cousin (CNW Group/". Image available at:

For further information: Caitie Wallman / Karolina Olechnowicz, Media Profile, 416-342-1823 / 416-342-1822, /

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