Nobody Here But Us Portuguese Crane Operators

Sometimes, in the midst of researching a mind-boggling dull subject, you dig up pure, unadulterated comedic gold.

That’s what happened to me this week while I was trying to find out who was on the board of the Cape Breton Partnership (I still haven’t found out — I was told to ask Acting President and CEO Tyler Mattheis and he hasn’t responded). I was poking around on the Partnership website when I clicked on the word “Reports” and, like I’d accidentally triggered the mechanism that reveals the hidden door in the bookcase, I found myself browsing the various reports the Partnership has commissioned of late.

I chose a “Retail Market Analysis: Cape Breton Municipality” prepared by FBM for the National Trust for Canada, ACOA, the CBRM, Downtown Sydney and the Cape Breton Partnership in 2020 and updated in 2021 for the CBRM and the Partnership at God-only-knows what cost.

I got as far as Page 4, “Lifestyle Cluster Descriptions” and could go no further:

CanaCode Lifestyles is a customer segmentation that combines demographic, household spending, consumer lifestyle, attitude and behavioural databases, with a view of a target market’s choices, preferences and shopping patterns.

The two-tier lifestyle segmentation system works at the six-digit postal code level and classifies Canada’s consumer landscape into 18 distinct lifestyle segments.

According to the company behind the CanaCodes — Polaris — they offer “an unparalleled data fusion of demographic, household spending, consumer lifestyle, attitude and behavioural databases.”

In other words, they’ve been poring over all the information that’s been surveilled out of us as we surf the web, use credit cards, download apps or collect reward points and yet — to my unmitigated delight — the descriptions they’ve come up with sound like they were drafted in a creative writing class on Venus.

See for yourself, beginning with this group, who apparently account for 28.68% of CB households:



Cluster O

Why include the value of a rented house? What is a blue collar job in the arts sector? Do almost 30% of Cape Bretoners really¬† like to go hunting? What is a “cultural” supermarket? So many questions.


High Trades

HIgh Trades (CanaCode)


So, 15.47% of Cape Breton households are working rural families who are often Chinese,¬† Italian or Portuguese? And they “pay attention to women’s right?”


Rural Handymen

Rural handymen of French descent account for a rather surprising 9.39% of Cape Breton households and what’s more — they bingo and buy big ticket items like tires and vacuum cleaners.

Rural Handymen


Empty Nesters

Even a category like this, which obviously exists in Cape Breton, emerges unrecognizable from the CanaCode treatment — what does it mean to “spend more on…supporting people living in Canada?”

How can the average “empty nest” hold 2.36 people?

How do they shop at Sears?

And why don’t they hunt? Everybody else does, apparently.

Empty Nesters


The study itself — once I got past the Clusters — looked like it contained some interesting information and I will give it a closer read, but I have to say, the decision to include the Clusters really shook my faith in the authors.

Here, in case you’re interested, is the full list of Clusters: