The death toll from a weekend mass shooting in Canada's Nova Scotia province has risen to 23, police said, after remains were found in burnt out homes and vehicles. 

"We believe there to be 23 victims, including a 17-year-old (girl). All other victims are adults, both men and women," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement. 

"We have recovered remains from some of the locations of the fires," police said, noting that at least five homes and buildings, as well as several vehicles, had been set alight by the suspect. 

It was not immediately clear if the shooter, who died in an exchange of gunfire with police, was among those counted. The RCMP has not yet responded to a request for clarification. 

The gunman, identified by police as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, began the attack late Saturday in the seaside village of Portapique. 

He died roughly 14 hours later after being shot by police at a gas station outside Halifax, 100km away. 

"Some of the victims were known to Gabriel Wortman and were targeted while others were not known to the suspect," the RCMP said. 

Among the victims identified were a young father, a woman who twice previously beat cancer, a pregnant woman, a veteran RCMP constable, a nurse, a school teacher, prison guards and a retired firefighter. 

Officials confirmed that Wortman wore an "authentic police uniform," but that the vehicle he drove from town to town was a "replica" police car. 

A police search for evidence was ongoing at 16 locations in the towns of Portapique, Wentworth, Debert, Shubenacadie, Milford and Enfield.