5 Amazing Small Towns in Canada
October 2, 2023
Canada is known for its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and friendly people. While many travelers flock to popular cities like Toronto and Vancouver, there is much more to explore in the vast countryside, especially the bustling small towns. From the historic charm of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario to the picturesque beauty of Golden in British Columbia, these towns will captivate your heart.
Ready to visit Canada’s amazing small towns? Here are five amazing small towns in Canada! Population sizes obtained from Statistics Canada.
5 Amazing Small Towns in Canada
Located in southern Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a small town with big charm. Known as the heart of Ontario's wine country, this town has lush vineyards and boasts some of the best wineries in the country.
Take a stroll along the tree-lined streets of the historic district, where you'll find beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings housing boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes.
Don't miss the opportunity to catch a show at the world-renowned Shaw Festival Theatre, which presents plays by the celebrated playwright Bernard Shaw and other great playwrights. Your visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake wouldn't be complete without a trip to the world-famous Niagara Falls, which is only a short distance from the town.
Admission to see the falls is by Parks Canada-Niagara National Historic Park Administration, so make sure to contact their office before paying a visit to Niagara Falls.
Population size: 19,088.
Golden, British Columbia
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Golden is a small town that offers outdoor enthusiasts a paradise of natural beauty. Surrounded by stunning mountain peaks, pristine rivers, and abundant wildlife, this town is a haven for adventure seekers. Outdoor activities you can do to your heart's content in Golden include:
- Mountain biking,
- Ice Skating,
- Whitewater rafting, and
Explore the breathtaking scenery of Yoho National Park, where you can marvel at stunning waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and ancient glaciers. For a unique experience, ride on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gondola and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. With its small-town charm and endless outdoor activities, Golden truly is a hidden gem in British Columbia.
Population size: 3,640.
Situated on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, Baie-Saint-Paul is a charming small town in Quebec. Known as Cirque du Soleil’s birthplace, Baie-Saint-Paul is an artistic and cultural hub in Quebec. Take a sightseeing trip through the quaint streets lined with colorful houses and art galleries that showcase the works of local artists.
Stroll along the town's scenic waterfront and soak in the picturesque views of the river and surrounding hills. Don't miss the chance to savor the delicious local cuisine combining French and Canadian influences in renowned restaurants such as
- Le Mouton Noir
- Bistro La Muse
- Le Diapason, and
- Ah La vache! La fondue en cavale
Outdoor enthusiasts can visit Parc National des Grands-Jardins and savor the natural wonders of Baie-Saint-Paul by going on:
- Hiking trails,
- Wildlife spotting,
- Guided tours, and
- Designated camping trips.
Population size: 4,868.
St. Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick
Along the picturesque Bay of Fundy is St. Andrews By-the-Sea, a charming seaside town in the Atlantic province of New Brunswick. With historic architecture, quaint shops, and stunning coastal scenery, this small town exudes Old World charm. The main thoroughfare across the town is Water Street, a wonderful road lined with beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings hosting boutiques, art galleries, and cafes.
Visit the iconic Algonquin Resort, a historic grand hotel that has welcomed guests since 1889. For an experience to please all your senses, explore the nearby Kingsbrae Garden, a stunning horticultural masterpiece with over 50,000 perennials, winding paths, and tranquil ponds that are a haven for landscaping enthusiasts.
Nature lovers can take a boat tour to the nearby islands and spot some of the marine wildlife, which includes:
- Bottlenose dolphins, and
Population size: 2,048.
On the rugged shores of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, the small town of Churchill sits remote, offering a truly unique and unforgettable experience to newcomers visiting its rustic surroundings. Known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World," Churchill is home to a thriving population of polar bears, which can be seen roaming the tundra in the fall.
Seize the opportunity to take a thrilling polar bear tour and witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Some of the best polar bear tour agencies in Churchhill include:
- Great White Bear Tours Inc.,
- Lazy Bear Expeditions & Tours Churchill Canada,
- Tundra Buggy Adventure, and
- Frontiers North Adventures.
Churchill is also a prime location for viewing the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights, with clear skies and minimal light pollution. If you want a culturally enriching experience of Canada’s Native American history, you can visit the Itsanitaq Museum and participate in traditional activities.
Population size: 870.
How Can I Visit Canada's 5 Amazing Small Towns?
If you're planning to visit the 5 amazing small towns in Canada, you must get a Canada Visitor (Tourist) Visa.
Canada Tourist/Visitor Visa
The Canada Visitor visa allows you to visit Canada for a specific period, usually up to six months. If your application is successful, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will stick an official Visitor Visa document onto your passport, authorizing your lawful entry into Canada as a visitor. There are primarily two types of Canada Visitor Visa, each categorized according to how many times you want to visit Canada.
The multiple-entry visa is for people who want to visit Canada more than once. It enables recipients to visit Canada for multiple periods over the next ten years. This is most likely the tourist visa option you will need to use if you plan to explore the small towns in Canada.
To apply for a Canada Visitor Visa, you must:
- Have valid travel documents i.e. passport
- Pass medical and criminal background checks (proof of your admissibility into Canada)
- Show an immigration officer you have the means to leave Canada once your visit ends
- Prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself or your family during your visit to Canada
Find out more about what you need to travel to Canada.
You may also need a letter of invitation from a Canadian permanent resident or citizen. However, this does not guarantee you will be issued a Visitor Visa. Furthermore, due to Canada’s popularity as a tourist destination, you must be aware of scammers targeting Canada Tourist Visa applicants.
Learn more about Canada’s Visitor Visa with the video below:
Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa allows young adults between the ages of 18 and 35 from 35 participating countries to work and travel in Canada for up to two years. This presents a great opportunity to gain international work experience in one of Canada's 5 amazing small towns while simultaneously soaking up every experience it offers.
As an added benefit, a working holiday allows you to travel around the country, get involved in multiple experiences, and meet people from all sorts of backgrounds. The work and travel experiences gained from your working holiday in Canada may enable you to qualify for Canadian permanent residency via the Canadian Experience Class.
Learn more about Canada’s Working Holiday Visa.
Can You Visit Canada Without a Canada Visitor Visa?
Not all visitors to Canada require a Visitor Visa. Certain countries are exempt from the visa requirement. Instead, they need to get and bring an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) document and their passport.
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a digital document that links your travel information to your passport and is valid for up to five years or until your passport expires. An eTA enables you to travel to Canada multiple times for short stays of up to six months.
You must apply for an eTA if:
- You are a visa-exempt foreign national, and you're transiting through or flying to a Canadian airport
- You are a citizen of a select visa-required country and are traveling to Canada by air. (However, a Visitor Visa will be required if you travel to Canada by bus, car, train, etc.)
The online application process for an eTA takes several minutes and costs 7 CAD.
Find out more about which countries can apply for Canada’s eTA.
What Can I Expect From Small-Town Life in Canada?
Small-town life in Canada offers a slower pace and a strong sense of community. You can expect friendly and welcoming residents who take pride in their town and are eager to share their local knowledge with visitors.
How Can I Make the Most of My Visit to a Small Town in Canada?
To make the most of your visit to a small town in Canada, consider attending community events and offering your free time to do volunteer work at some of the local clubs and organizations. These events and organizations will help to properly immerse you into the social fabric of the small town, giving you a more intimate understanding of its residents, history, and community.