• High order services;
  • employment;
  • uneven development;
  • spatial concentration;
  • urban system

In spite of the considerable economic importance of high order (intermediate demand) services, research on the growth and location of these activities has remained at a fairly aggregate level. The behavior of the individual elements of this group has rarely been documented in detail. In this paper, we seek to determine if individual high order service activities are becoming spatially more concentrated or dispersed across the Canadian urban system, and to determine if differential rates of growth may be observed by region and by urban size category. These issues are of considerable importance in the ongoing debate concerning the impact of the tertiarization of the economy on uneven spatial development. We examine the performance and location of 17 individual high order service activities over a set of 152 Canadian urban areas with populations greater than 10,000 inhabitants. Most of these activities are highly concentrated in a small number of very large urban areas, and their level of concentration declined only very slightly over the period 1971–1991. We conclude with an examination of the factors underlying the geographic concentration of high order services at the upper end of the urban hierarchy.