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Top 20 Small Cities In Canada

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Small cities are scattered throughout the Canadian
landscape, but there are some that stand apart from
others. The cities on this list represent the best quality of
life that Canada has to offer. Each of these cities will make
a great vacation spot or a perfect place to start a family.
These cities have rich historical roots, thriving economies
and many leisure activities. Best of all, you can get a taste
of the small-town atmosphere while having access to the
same amenities that attract people to large cities. With
distinct local traditions, each of the following cities has
something unique to offer you.

1. Dawson Creek, British Columbia

Dawson Creek was named after Dr. George Mercer

Dawson, who was a geologist and naturalist. It’s located
approximately 200 miles north of Prince George BC, and
its main industries are renewable and nonrenewable
energy products, mining, agriculture, forestry and tourism.
According tothe HelloBC website, this little town started as
a pioneer settlement, and quickly built into an agricultural
By 1930, five grain towers were built in Dawson Creek.
This small town was instrumental during World War II.
After the Pearl Harbor Bombing in 1941, the population
skyrocketed from 600 residents to 10,000 as people
moved in to help build the Alaska Highway.
Over the last few decades, little has changed in Dawson
Creek. The Community Profile page lists this town as
having a population of 11,583. Home values average
$259,000, while 2-bedroom apartments can be rented for
$1,085. Like many small towns in Canada, real estate
prices are rising.
Dawson Creek saw a 6.6% increase on home prices
between 2013 and 2014, and similar growth in previous
years. With this trend, real estate in Dawson Creek is a
sound investment.
The Tourism Dawson Creek website details some of the
many attractions for visitors and residents of Dawson
Creek. One such attraction is the Northern Alberta Railway
Park, where you can stand at “Mile 0” of the great Alaskan
Visitors interested in the history of the Alaska Highway
might enjoy walking over Kiskatinaw Bridge, one of the
last original structures of the famed wilderness highway.
At this park, you can also visit the Dawson Creek Station

Museum, Art Gallery and the Visitor Center. It is the place
to start if you want to follow in the footsteps of thousands
of World War II Veterans.
Dawson Creek also has a thriving arts community.
According to the DawsonCreek website, the Dawson Creek
Community Arts Council is made up of more than 15 artist
groups representing historians, performing arts, visual
arts, and literary organizations.
Page 2 of 21

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2. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Originally an Indian fur trading camp on a bend of the
Moose Jaw River, the city of Moose Jaw has a long,
colorful history. Both Cree and Assiniboine Indians used

Moose Jaw as a winter camp. In fact, the city’s name is a
variation of the Cree word “Moosegaw” which translates to
“warm breezes.”
European settlers arrived in the area between 1881 and
1900, with the construction of the Canadian Pacific
Railway. Moose Jaw gained official city status in 1903, and
the city became a major agricultural and industrial boom
town. You can find all the details of Moose Jaw’s history at
the City of Moose Jaw’s website.
Today, Moose Jaw still has a thriving economy. The most
recent available statistics from Financial Post Market
Report show that retail sales in Moose Jaw were 61%
above the national average at $711.71 million in 2011.
According to Debthorn, the major industries include oil
and gas refineries, potash mining and agriculture. The city
reports major new investments, including a $27 million
Civic Center Plaza and a $1.131 million shopping mall. This
new financial growth is reflected in the recent boom in
In 2012 Moose Jaw’s population rose to a new high of
34,508. With all of the expansion, the City of Moose Jaw is
proud to offer “High Quality Affordable Living.”
Tourism is another big business in Moose Jaw. If you are
planning on visiting or moving to the City of Moose Jaw,
you will be impressed by the many cultural and historic
According to Tourism Moose Jaw’s website, there are
several art galleries and museums to visit. One of the most
prominent is the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery. This
museum hosts a mixture of history and visual art,
including a living history exhibit.

The City of Moose Jaw’s website also lists a variety of other
interesting places to visit. You can bask in natural
geothermal mineral water pools at Temple Gardens
Mineral Spa Resort.
Page 3 of 21

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3. Salmon Arm, British Columbia

Salmon Arm started as a Canadian Pacific Railway boom
town on the shores of Shuswap Lake. According to the City
of Salmon Arm’s website, the area around present day
Salmon Arm was little explored until 1885, when the
railway passed though.
Before long, an agricultural community sprang up at
Salmon Arm, and the town was officially founded in 1890
when the federal government approved the construction of

a post office.
From those humble beginnings, Salmon Arm grew into a
thriving small town that is rated as one of Canada’s best
places to live. The city’s website lists Salmon Arm’s
population as 16,012 as of the 2006 Census. Today it is the
economic center of the Shuswap Lakes region.
The main industry in Salmon Arm is four-season tourism,
so residents and visitors alike have no lack of fun things to
do all through the year.
Salmon Arm citizens are proud of their community; their
passion for the city is seen in the many projects dedicated
to preserving area wetlands or making visitors to the RJ
Haney Heritage Village and Museum feel welcome. On the
city’s website, you can find several listings for area
Camping is a popular activity, as well as fishing and
hunting. With plenty of scenic areas surrounding Salmon
Arm, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy year-round
adventures. Music lovers will enjoy the Salmon Arm Roots
& Blues Festival. This event’s traditional music attracts
more than 30,000 people each year.
With the nearby Shuswap Lake, you can enjoy all of your
favorite aquatic activities, including salmon runs,
houseboat adventures and more.
Farmer’s markets are also very popular in Salmon Arm
where hungry shoppers can find a large variety of homegrown produce and locally made canned goods along with
handmade arts and crafts. The Shuswap Lake region is
also well known for its dairies. Salmon Arm boasts some of
the tastiest cheese and ice cream made in Canada.
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4. Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

Nestled on the banks of the Coquitlam River, Port
Coquitlam is a vibrant city with a rich history. According to
the city’s website, there were actually two Port Coquitlams
before 1913.
One Coquitlam was a rural town, and the other was an
industrial town. The Port Coquitlam of today is the
descendant of the industrial Coquitlam. Until the 1950s,
Port Coquitlam was a small town on the Canadian Pacific
Railway. As World War II ended, the town had an
industrial boom that shaped it into the thriving city it is

The city has a unique geography with many benefits. In the
east it’s bordered by the Pitt River, in the south by the
Fraser River, to the west by the Coquitlam River and the
Coast Mountains create the northern boundary.
Easy access to major rivers, level land and close distance to
Vancouver are the reasons the Canadian Pacific Railway
Company relocated freight operations to Coquitlam in
1911, establishing the town as a transportation hub.
Port Coquitlam has a lot to offer visitors and residents.
Creative people will enjoy the Leigh Square Community
Arts Village. This organization works hard to promote arts,
culture and history among Port Coquitlam residents.
With exhibition space, studios, performing arts spaces,
and many festivals, the Community Arts Village enriches
life for everyone living in and around Port Coquitlam.
The Port Coquitlam Parks and Recreation Department is
another feature of this small city. With two recreation
centers, parks throughout the city and numerous events
throughout the year, people of all ages can enjoy life in
Port Coquitlam. One of the Parks and Recreation
Department’s largest achievements are the many trails
throughout the city.
The Traboulay PoCo Trail is a 25-kilometer loop that
allows you to enjoy nature, exercise, or even commute to
work or shopping centers. There are also trails along the
Fraser and Pit rivers, as well as through the wetlands at
Colony farm and Deboville Slough.
Page 5 of 21

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5. Canmore, Alberta

Like many of Canada’s greatest small towns, Canmore was
founded when the Canadian Pacific Railway was built.
According to the local government’s website, Donald A.
Smith named Canmore in 1884. The town became an
official municipality when Queen Victoria granted it a coal
mining charter in 1886. By 1887, the first coal mine had
opened, and the first Mounted Police barracks was
constructed in 1890.
Coal mines formed the basis of Canmore’s economy for
several decades, but in 1979, the last mine finally shut
down. In 1988, Canmore had the honor of hosting the
Nordic events for the Calgary Winter Olympics, bringing a
much needed economic boom. Since that time, Canmore’s

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