Police-reported homicides hit a historic low last year, as Canada’s murder rate fell by eight per cent to its lowest level since 1966.

The sharp drop in the country’s murder rate was largely due to 40 fewer murders committed in Quebec last year, according to Statistics Canada. That province’s murder rate in 2013 was at its lowest since reporting began in 1961.

The StatsCan data shows gang, domestic, and firearm-related homicides were down in 2013, while the number of fatal stabbings actually rose compared with the previous year.

The national homicide rate fell to 1.44 murders per 100,000 people in 2013, down from 156 the year before. There were 505 murders reported last year, 38 fewer than in 2012.

Toronto topped the list with more murders than any other city in Canada, while Regina, Sask. had the highest homicide rate per 100,000 people. Regina’s 3.84 homicide rate was nearly twice the national average.

Toronto’s 79 homicides put it well ahead of every other Canadian city on the homicide list, though that number was down from 81 the year before. Montreal was a distant second with 43 reported homicides in 2013, followed by Vancouver (42), Edmonton (27), Winnipeg (26) and Calgary (24).

The number of homicides is typically highest in highly-populated cities, StatsCan said in a news release on Monday. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are the country’s three most populous cities.

Canada’s three Prairie provinces had the highest homicide rates in the country. Manitoba was first among all the provinces, with 3.87 deaths per 100,000 people – nearly twice the national average. Saskatchewan was next at 2.71, followed by Alberta at 2.04.

Ontario topped the list of provinces with 166 murders, while Prince Edward Island had the lowest homicide rate and number of deaths among the country's provinces. One person was killed there in 2013, after a murder-free 2012.

Four murders in Nunavut made it the deadliest territory in the country, with a homicide rate of 11.24. There were two murders in the Northwest Territories and no murders in the Yukon.

The StatsCan data shows gang-related homicides were down nationally for the first time in three years, although the numbers actually increased in British Columbia and Manitoba, the provinces with the most gang-related homicides countrywide.

Approximately 87 per cent of victims were killed by someone they knew, StatsCan says. Of that group, one in three people were killed by a family member.

Fourteen fewer people were killed by their romantic partners last year than in the year previous. Despite the decline, women still made up the vast majority (about 82 per cent) of intimate partner homicide victims.

The number of murders committed by strangers fell by 25 per cent, to a rate of 0.14.

Seven of 10 murder cases were solved within a week of when they happened, according to StatsCan.

The StatsCan homicide numbers were collected from a survey of police-reported homicides in 2013.