Another six per cent said they retired later than expected, with just 46 per cent saying they retired exactly as planned.
Angus Reid performed the survey of 2,000 Canadians Jan. 15-19 and Feb. 2-4. Of the 2,000, 818 were retired.
There is no reportable margin of error because it was conducted online or among members of the Angus Reid forum, a group the research firm uses regularly in polls about subjects of interest to Canadians.
Among the retired Canadians surveyed, 36 per cent said they retired at over age 61. Many were forced into early retirement, with 36 per cent leaving at age 55 or younger, and another 28 per cent retiring in between 56 and 60.
Those who retired early were more likely to say they were struggling financially, with 27 per cent admitting they did not have enough money to do everything they want.
The average age of retirement in Canada in 2013 was 63, according to Statistics Canada, up from 62 the previous year.
But the waves of downsizing that have rolled through Canadian workplaces since the 1990s seem to have caught many Canadians without any financial cushion.
Older Canadians facing bankruptcy
The number of seniors facing bankruptcy is on the rise. Seniors in Ontario make up 30 per cent of bankruptcies in 2013-2014, according to bankruptcy trustee firm Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.
The Angus Reid survey showed those who worked in the private sector were more likely to report leaving the workforce early due to circumstances outside their control, and more likely to report that making ends meet is a struggle than respondents who worked in the public sector.
About 57 per cent of retirees surveyed said a government pension was a main source of retirement income, while 53 per cent had a work pension.
Respondents who were still working had different ideas of how they would support themselves in retirement and when they might retire.
About 45 per cent expected to rely on a government pension and 34 per cent had a work pension. Almost 72 per cent of those respondents still in the workforce expected to continue working into their 60s.