Published in the Toronto Sun and Sun Media papers March, 2009.
KINGSTON, ONT. -- Folk here sure are clever.
Residents in this waterfront city outsmart the rest of Canada, with more PhD holders per capita than any other major Canadian city, according to Statistics Canada figures and some number crunching by Sun Media.
In a city of 152,360 people, 2,545 hold earned doctorates -- that means 1.67% of the population holds a PhD and the prefix Dr. to their name, triple the national average of 0.56%.
News that his native city is home to some of the country's most accomplished brainiacs came as no surprise to Kevin Parker, the director of the psychology clinic at Queen's University and a PhD holder himself.
"Kingston is rich in terms of research work with a disproportionate number of knowledge-based industries," Parker said. "It's got a big city feel, but is a relatively small university town."
Indeed, Canada's first capital city, has been called the country's "smartest workforce" for supporting global research centres such Dupont, Bombardier and Invista, a producer of synthetic fibres such as lycra.
The city also boasts a premiere university, Queen's, as well as the Royal Military College, points out Jeff Garrah, chief executive of the Kingston Economic Development Corp.
"There's a direct relationship between the high percentage of PhDs and the presence of global technology centres," he said.
The ability to attain a doctorate degree is directly related to a person's IQ, says Barry Schmidl, president of Mensa Canada, an exclusive group for people who score in the top 2% of intelligence tests.
Generally, PhD holders score an average of 120-125 on IQ tests, while the average Joe's IQ is around 100.
"There are more people with university degrees in Mensa than in the general population," he said from Dartmouth, N.S. "They're likely to be in school longer because school is easier. Among all the PhD holders in Kingston you'll find a lot of people who would qualify for Mensa."
Incidentally, Mensa Canada's national headquarters is based in Kingston, but Schmidl said that's just a coincidence.
While he doesn't have a PhD, Craig Meeds, 31, is a chartered financial analyst with TD Waterhouse in Kingston, and a Mensa proctor in the city who helps administer tests. Writing the qualifying exam is a way to confirm suspicions or challenge yourself, Meeds said, as "everyone who writes the test thinks they're smart enough to write."
Mensa represents a cross-section of society that includes real estate lawyers, doctors, prison guards and mechanics, and is stratified into even higher echelons of intelligence, Meeds said, not unlike Kingston itself.
"The people I meet are doctors, engineers, lawyers and entrepreneurs. It's an amazing city in its diversity in human capital. Chances are that just about anyone you meet has an interesting career path," he said.
IQ tests measure a person's capacity to learn, process, and reason, and aren't knowledge-based.
And while high IQ scores means a person may be a fast learner, that doesn't guarantee life success.
Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling novel, Outliers, for instance, features Christopher Langan, said to be the world's smartest man with an IQ registered at 200, smarter than Albert Einstein and physicist Stephen Hawking.
Despite his stratospheric brainpower, Langan has worked mostly labour-intensive jobs and for 20 years was a part-time bouncer in Long Island.
"Having a high IQ gives you an inherent advantage over someone else who's not Mensa material, but it won't make or break your chances of success," Meeds said." A high IQ is a gift, but not enough to make you succeed or not."
Method: Sun Media used the latest 2006 population census numbers and 2008 educational attainment figures for the story. Only census metropolitan areas were used.
MOST CREATIVE CITY
In a 2001 Hill Strategies study, the hamlet of Cape Dorset, Nunavut, was singled out as the most creative municipality, where 23% of the labour force worked in the arts, almost 30 times the national average of 0.8%.
Occupations include actors, musicians, artists, dancers, writers and filmmakers.
Carving and printmaking are listed as major economic activities in the town.
Meanwhile, Montreal's plateau area was named the most creative neighbourhood, with 605 artists out of 7,560 workers for an artistic concentration of 8%.
Creative communities attract people, businesses and contribute to economic growth, said Elizabeth Keurvorst of the Creative City Network of Canada.
"Producing artists is important but keeping them is also important," she said, noting at a minimum cities should have performance, exhibition, and work spaces. "It's important to be surrounded by like-minded people but if you can't afford to live there, they'll leave."
Top 5 smartest cities in Canada Measured by PhDs per capita
Barrie, ON 0.20%
Oshawa, ON 0.20%
Brantford, ON 0.22%
Saint John, NB 0.24%
Abbotsford, BC 0.28%
Saskatoon, Sask 1.05%
Ottawa - Gatineau, ON 1.22%
Victoria, BC 1.27%
Guelph, ON 1.4%
Kingston, ON 1.67%