Canada is a very large country (the second biggest in the world) with only 33 million people and a population density of just 3.7 people per square kilometer! This results in many small and close-knit Canadian towns, villages and communities, whose residents stick together and often have know each other for generations.
These Canada small towns are not your typical tourist destination, but each and every single one has its own charm and character!
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The best Canada small towns
In this post you will find a list of the best small towns to visit in Canada. These towns all have a population below 10.000 and are generally not very well-known and off the beaten track. Included are:
- Alma, New Brunswick
- Baddeck, Nova Scotia
- Dawson City, Yukon
- Drumheller, Alberta
- Fernie, British Columbia
- Fogo Island, Newfoundland
- Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
- Haliburton, Ontario
- Killarney, Ontario
- Lunenberg, Nova Scotia
- Nelson, British Columbia
- Port Renfrew, British Columbia
- Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
- St. Anthony, Newfoundland
- Tadoussac, Quebec
- Tatamagoughe, Nova Scotia
- Tobermory, Ontario
- Torrington, Alberta
- Twillingate, Newfoundland
- Ucluelet, British Columbia
- Val Marie, Saskatchewan
- Wakefield, Quebec
- Waskesiu, Saskatchewan
- Waterton, Alberta
- Watrous, Saskatchewan
This post has been created in collaboration with several other travel bloggers, who have kindly shared their expert advice about their favorite Canadian towns.
The most charming small towns in Canada
1. Alma, New Brunswick
Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru: Alma is a cool small town in Canada and it should definitely be on your travel radar. It is situated on the banks of the Bay of Fundy and a perfect base to explore the Bay of Fundy and Fundy National Park.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest and lowest tides in the world, the difference between the two can be more than 15 meters (50 feet)! A great place to experience these unique tides is at the Hopewell Rocks Park.
Fundy National Park is also an excellent place for hiking and exploring woodland streams, waterfalls and lakes. If you are lucky you may even encounter a beaver or a moose!
Alma may be small, it’s a bustling fishing port. A huge portion of lobster caught in New Brunswick is brought on shore in Alma. There are many restaurants in town offering fresh lobster for the prices cheaper than dirt.
The best time to visit Alma is in summer, when the average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius and rainy days are rare.
2. Baddeck, Nova Scotia
Karen from Wanderlustingk: one of the most charming small towns in Canada is Baddeck. This town close to Bras d’Or Lake is beautiful and a perfect way to see wildlife without the fuss of a big city. Here, you’ll feel the charm and culture of Cape Breton Island which has a proud tradition of ceilidhs (pronounced kay-le).
At a few of the restaurants and institutions of Baddeck, you can enjoy live music, impressive dancing and a glimpse into this tradition that came across the Atlantic with many with Gaelic roots.
Beyond the ceilidhs and the fantastic seafood, you can learn about Alexander Graham Bell, one of the most famous locals, at his namesake museum in Baddeck. It’s just a great opportunity to relax.
We really enjoyed taking an extra day to explore the nature surrounding this area, especially birdwatching. For those looking to understand Canada’s roots, you’ll love Baddeck and I strongly recommend making a detour to Cape Breton Island from Nova Scotia if you have the chance!
3. Dawson City, Yukon
Rhonda from Travel Yes Please: Dawson City, a northern town in the Yukon Territory, is one of the most interesting small towns in Canada. When gold was found in a nearby creek in 1896, it started the Klondike Gold Rush, turning the small, remote settlement into a lively booming town.
The excitement of Dawson City’s gold rush days can still be felt today, largely because the town’s appearance hasn’t changed much since then. Boardwalks still line the dirt streets and frontier-style buildings house saloons, hotels and restaurants. Even Canada’s oldest gambling hall, the Diamond Tooth Gerties, is still in operation, putting on nightly cancan shows in the summer.
Other fun ways to experience the thrill of the Klondike Gold Rush is by panning for gold in Bonanza Creek, visiting Dredge #4 (a National Historic Site), and floating down the Yukon River on a paddlewheeler, the main mode of transport during the gold rush.
4. Drumheller, Alberta
Jason from Mint Habits: Drumheller is a small town in the province of Alberta and is nicknamed “the dinosaur capital of the world”. Naturally, the biggest draw in this little town is dinosaurs!
Most people visit Drumheller to see the Royal Tyrrell museum which contains all kinds of dinosaur fossils and remains. You’ll also be treated to a world of information and historical significances about dinosaurs and their presence on earth.
The other major thing to do in this town is to check out the Badlands. The badlands are essentially trenches of large rocks and canyons. They have been made into hiking trails that can be toured all season long. This is where you’ll likely spend most of your time when you visit Drumheller.
Drumheller is located just north of Calgary and it’s often a side place to visit as you travel from Alberta’s two main cities Edmonton and Calgary (which are about 3 hours apart).
Insider travel tip: visit Drumheller’s badlands and canyons during sunset time for amazing photos!
You can spend easily spend two day here, however, even just 3-5 hours will give you a great feel of this little Albertan gem.
Want to read more about Drumheller? Check out my Drumheller itinerary!
5. Fernie, British Columbia
Kimberly (a former resident of Fernie) from Travelling Around Spain: Fernie is nestled just on the west side of the Alberta/British Columbia border in a valley which has the imposing Rocky Mountains towering over it on all sides. Stunning beauty aside, Fernie is an adventure town that always has something going on (similar to Jasper).
As one would expect in a mountain town the skiing opportunities are exceptional. Not only is there a world-class ski hill, Fernie Alpine Resort but there is also a cat skiing resort, Island Lake Lodge, both which will keep you in fresh powder for almost 5 months of the year.
Cat skiing means using snowcats to get to more remote backcountry areas where you can make the first marks in the snow as you ski through untouched powder.
If you are more into summer activities Fernie has made a name for itself in mountain biking and has trails in and around the town, from novice to extreme levels. There are hiking trails too numerous to mention, white water rafting and fly fishing along the local elk river.
During the summer months, outdoor concerts are held every Wednesday afternoon which bring in the area’s best bands along main street and their famous Wapiti music festival in August.
The local restaurants aren’t your hum-drum fast food affairs, but places that offer quality food from local produce. Altogether Fernie is a gem of a town that brings together people as amazing as the nature surrounding it!
6. Fogo Island
Yashy from Baby & Life: if you’re looking to discover a place like nowhere else in Canada (or the world), cast your gaze towards Fogo Island.
I will be upfront with you: it may take an entire day to get to Fogo Island, the largest island off Newfoundland and Labrador’s coast. However, this peaceful place (there are only 3 policemen on the entire island) is guaranteed to become one of your favorite Canadian travel memories.
During my visit to Fogo Island I saw the Caribou cross an icy field and chatted with local photographers and quilters, who can often be found at the few arts and crafts stores that are on the island.
This is a remote Canadian island and supplies aren’t always easy to come by. Nevertheless, the residents of Fogo Island will welcome you with smiles and share stories with you over a drink at the local shed.
I promise you, you will never come across a spot as unique as Fogo Island. The friendliest people I ever met were the people on Fogo. You will immediately feel at home and you may never want to leave…
Luxury travelers will want to stay at the Fogo Island Inn with its impressive floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and sky.
7. Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
Nicole from The Passport Kids: a great hidden gem in the heart of Saskatchewan is Fort Qu’Appelle. It is nestled in the beautiful Qu’Appelle valley in between Mission Lake and Echo Lake.
Fort Qu’Appelle is a little town that acts as a hub of lake life around the four lakes in the area. This quaint little town offers so many authentic things to do in Saskatchewan, including hiking, camping, boating, and fishing.
Weekly on Saturday, you can attend the farmers market where locals from the area bring their best baking products, jams and veggies for your own farm-to-table meal. Slowly walk down the main street and grab yourself an ice cream and let life slow down.
Fort Qu’Appelle offers a variety of festivals during summer that keeps the town buzzing with people. While it is less than an hour drive from Saskatchewan’s capital city Regina, Fort Qu’Appelle feels worlds away.
Either camp at one of the local camping grounds or rent a cabin along one of the lakes to truly immerse yourself in Saskatchewan life.
8. Haliburton, Ontario
Mariellen of Breathedreamgo: the first time I visited Haliburton, Ontario, I was enchanted. We drove up a winding road to Skyline Park for a panoramic view of the small town and sparkling Head Lake.
Haliburton might be tiny, at only about 1,000 permanent residents, but it has a big impact. It’s a hub for cottagers in the summer and a hub for adventure travelers all year round. And not only is Haliburton a charming town, but it’s really well located as a gateway to all the natural beauty and adventure that northern Ontario has to offer.
Haliburton is a great destination on its own as well, despite it’s tiny size there are a lot of things to to see and do. The town is situated on the banks of Head Lake, with a rolling, green park and kids playground ideal for picnicking and swimming.
The Railsend Art Gallery, located in an abandoned railcar at the edge of the town park, is always fun to visit. Other places to visit include Skyline Park (with the panoramic view!), the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and the walk along Highland Street.
For lunch or dinner, Baked and Battered is the best place in town. They feature fish and chips and baked goods, what more could you want? Haliburton is a jewel, with lots of things to do in the Ontario’s Highlands region.
9. Killarney, Ontario
Kathi from Watch Me See: Killarney is a small unassuming village at the end of Highway 637 in Ontario. One wonders, why they should take up the long journey to the end of this dead-end road, but believe me, the town is worth the effort!
Also known as Shebahonaning, an Ojibwe name meaning “canoe passage”, it overlooks a narrow channel that separates George Island from the mainland. Its location in Georgian Bay in Lake Huron means that Killarney is a boater’s paradise.
In the village, you can find some of the best fish & chips in Canada, dine with a view at the Killarney Mountain Lodge or indulge in an ice cream cone by the waterfront. The colorful painted wooden houses look like from a different era and time seems to pass slower in Killarney than anywhere else.
Outdoor lovers can enjoy a scenic walk to the Eastern Lighthouse and treat themselves to a refreshing dip in the lake. You can join boat trips out to other scenic bays of Lake Huron and marvel at the timeless mansions dotted along the picturesque shoreline.
For more adventure, head to the nearby Killarney Provincial Park which is great for canoe camping expeditions to O.S.A. Lake, Killarney Lake or Norway Lake. This is Canada from the picture book!
10. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Dian from Girls Getaway: Lunenburg is a picture perfect East Coast fishing village on the south shore of Nova Scotia, it is an easy day trip or weekend escape from Halifax and one of my top must visit small towns in Canada.
This colorful seaside town is brimming with enchanting little art galleries, seafood restaurants and indie shops. You can buy local produce at Dot and Loops and eat local (think lobster roll) at one of Lunenburg’s favorite restaurants, the Salt Shaker Deli.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and named one of the Prettiest Painted Places in Canada Lunenburg is one of those special spots where you should just wander and discover its tiny, charming crooked streets and laneways.
You can also explore the town’s large harbor to visit a replica of the Bluenose Schooner, Canada’s beloved sailboat. The Schooner rose to fame in the 1920s as one of the fastest racing boats in the world, it’s also pictured on the Canadian 10 cent coin.
While at the harbor be sure to head over to the Fisheries Museum where you can board a couple of old fishing boats or head over to the live touch tank to pet a lobster!
11. Nelson, British Columbia
Population: 10.664 (the largest town on the list but I visited this place during our Canada road trip and it’s such a nice town I couldn’t resist including it on this list)
Kyla from Where Is The World: Nelson is a charming town that’s a must visit on any trip to Southern British Columbia. Nestled in a beautiful valley along the banks of Kootenay Lake, the majestic peaks of the Selkirk mountains tower over town. It’s home to an eclectic mix of all kinds of people resulting in a unique culture that’s distinctly “Nelson”.
For a small town, there’s an incredible variety of independent restaurants, thrift stores, coffee shops and eco-friendly stores. In the summer, you can wander historic Baker street or relax on the beach at Lakeside park. Once the weather turns colder Nelson becomes a winter wonderland and makes a great base for skiing and back-country snowshoeing.
If you’re looking for a funky mountain town with plenty to do, Nelson should be at the top of your list!
12. Port Renfrew, British Columbia
Taryn from Happiest Outdoors: Tiny Port Renfrew, BC has a population of just 144 people, but it has so much to offer! It’s tucked in between the Pacific Ocean and old growth rainforests on the rugged West Coast of Vancouver Island. Historically it was a logging town. But in the last few years it’s turned into an eco-tourism destination.
If you love the ocean, Port Renfrew is world famous for its salmon fishing charters. You can also rent a kayak to explore the bay or drive a few minutes south to Botanical Beach and hike to the tide pools.
Port Renfrew is also the starting point for two of BC’s premier coastal hiking trails: The super famous 75km long West Coast Trail and its little brother, the 47km long Juan de Fuca Trail.
Port Renfrew’s nickname is the “Tall Tree Capital of Canada”. Some of Canada’s oldest, tallest and largest trees grow nearby. Be sure to head to Avatar Grove and visit Big Lonely Doug, the world’s second tallest Douglas fir. He got his name after all the trees around him were cut down in 2012, now he stands all alone!
Also read: 40 best things to do on Vancouver Island
13. Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
Lesley from Freedom 56 Travel: located between the equally incredible Kootenay and Banff National Parks, Radium Hot Springs fulfills the promise prominently advertised on the road into town: “The mountains shall bring peace to the people”.
Famous for the odorless hot spring mineral pools, the village of Radium Hot Springs is a peaceful little mountain getaway. If being outdoorsy in in the mountains is high on your leisure-time bucket list, there’s no better place for you!
While it might be more challenging to get to in the winter, Radium is a great winter destination for skating, skiing, sledding or snowmobiling in the vast back-country.
Summer in Radium Hot Springs definitely fulfills its peaceful promise. Imagine golfing on world-class courses without waiting to play through, exploring the endless outdoor pursuits in the neighborhood national parks or just sitting by the many lakes just taking in all the beauty around you.
Don’t forget to visit the famous hot springs! Nestled in the Sinclair Canyon, the pools are family friendly and offer an on-site spa with licensed therapists. Keep your eyes peeled for the bighorn sheep that frequent the canyon above the mineral pools!
14. St. Anthony, Newfoundland
Adrienne from Bucket Half Full: St. Anthony, Newfoundland is a great place to explore on your next trip to the East coast. The town of less than 2300 people is the largest municipality in the northern peninsula and a great base to discover the region.
Although you can fly into St. Anthony’s airport, this can be surprisingly costly. I recommend flying into Deer Lake and renting a car to make the five-hour journey up north. There’s plenty to see on the way, such as the tablelands in Gros Morne National Park.
Be aware that the area is notorious for collisions involving moose, so keep your eyes on the road!
One of the best things to do in St. Anthony is get out and explore nature. There are plenty of hikes in the area that provide stunning views. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even spot an iceberg in the harbor. If you want to see some of the wildlife, hop on a boat tour for the chance to see whales, dolphins, and puffins.
If history is your thing, drive 40 minutes to check out L’anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vikings created a settlement at this location in the 11th century, making it the site of the first ever visit Europeans made to North America.
The best time to visit St. Anthony is between June and September because most of the amenities and attractions shut down during the off-season.
15. Tadoussac, Quebec
Yulia from Miss Tourist: when you are driving along Saint Lawrence River in Canada, you will come across a couple of charming small towns that are worth visiting. Tadoussac is one of them and definitely a great choice, it’s a nice and quiet little gem that I consider a must-visit!
The biggest attraction in the town is whale watching. The city has a unique marine environment, something like you have never seen before! So many whales can be seen during a boat trip there, that’s why Tadoussac is such a must-visit destination.
Insider travel tip: make sure that you bring a couple of additional layers to ensure you don’t get too cold while out on the boat!
The other popular attraction in Tadoussac is the National Park, located right on the Saguenay River. The area is beautiful and worth visiting, at least for a short walk! Overall, Tadoussac is such an amazing place to visit, I’m sure you will not be disappointed!
16. Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
Michele from A Taste for Travel: although a bit off the beaten path and quite a mouthful to pronounce, Tatamagouche in Nova Scotia is a small town that’s well worth seeking out.
Situated on a protected bay within the Northumberland Strait, a body of water facing Prince Edward Island, the shoreline is home to Atlantic Canada’s largest collection of warm ocean beaches. This makes Tatamagouche a prime hub for exploring nearby provincial park beaches such as Blue Sea Provincial Park with its boardwalk, sand dunes, change house and interpretive information.
But much more than serving as a popular beach destination, the Northumberland shore’s mild climate supports a thriving local wine industry and is home to Jost Vineyards, Nova Scotia’s most well established and largest winery.
In addition to taking tours of nearby Jost Vineyards, there are many other things to do in Tatamagouche of interest to culinary travelers. Dine on fresh lobster, sample the delicious regional cheeses, sip a craft beer at the Tatamagouche Brewing Co or browse the goodies at the weekly Farmer’s Market at Creamery Square, open from April to December.
Fresh oysters, home baked goods, handmade maple chocolates and local blueberries are must-try foods here. You can wear off the calories by renting a bike and cycling the Butter Trail, a picturesque route that travels a path alongside the waterfront and through fields lined by wildflowers.
Be sure to stop at the Anna Swan Museum featuring the story of the Nova Scotia giantess born in Tatamagouche in 1846 and a famous star in the P.T. Barnum Circus. Also of interest is the Sunrise Trail Museum, portraying life of the Mi’kmaq, early pioneer days and geological discoveries such as the rare Brule Fossils, fossils of extinct animals from 290 million years ago.
17. Tobermory, Ontario
Stephanie from The World As I See It: one of the best small towns in Ontario, especially for nature addicts, is Tobermory. Located on the tip of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula and a three hour drive from Toronto, Tobermory is full of natural beauty.
Set on a picturesque harbor looking out over Fathom Five National Marine Park, Tobermory has a wealth of things to do for those who love small town getaways and outdoor adventure travel.
Tobermory is home to two National Parks, a marine one and the Bruce Peninsula National Park. In Tobermory’s marine park you can enjoy sunset cruises, go diving shipwrecks or visit Flowerpot Island to explore its lighthouse and trails.
In the Bruce Peninsula National Park you’ll find a wealth of incredible hiking trails, beaches and epic clifftop views over Georgian Bay. One of the park’s most famous sights is the Grotto, a sea cave along the coast with water that resembles the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean.
But there’s more to Tobermory than hiking, cruises and outdoor life. One of the most endearing attributes to this small Canadian town is that all of its shops, cafes and restaurants are locally run. You won’t find chain restaurants or big company shops here. Visit Tobermory once and you’ll keep coming back again and again!
18. Torrington, Alberta
Diane from Diane Alkier: if you are driving between Calgary and Edmonton be sure to make a quick detour to the small town of Torrington! Just east of the village Olds, Torrington is home to the quirky Gopher Hole Museum.
This tiny museum has 47 dioramas of dressed up stuffed gophers acting out fun little scenes with cute little captions. You can’t help but chuckle at these elaborate pieces of art, often depicting some of Torrington’s 170 residents. Year after year hundreds of people stop in to check out this fun little museum.
There is not much else to do in Torrington. But after checking out the museum, you can take your photo with the 12 feet high gopher sculpture named Clem T. GoFur before heading back to the highway to continue your Canadian road trip.
19. Twillingate, Newfoundland
Christina from Travel 2 Next: you can visit Twillingate at any time of the year to for its fishing village appeal, with fishing boats and colorful saltbox houses. This small town in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is well-organized to cater to tourists between May and July, when the icebergs float past.
Twillingate is known as the ‘Iceberg Capital of the World’, as it’s one of the best places in “Iceberg Alley” in Newfoundland to see the giant icebergs float past. Each year, icebergs break off from massive ice shelves in the Arctic and are swept past the coast of Newfoundland by strong ocean currents.
You can see icebergs right along the Newfoundland coastline, but Twillingate is the town that is most well-organized for tourists. Regular boat tours leave from the dock and the local tourism board tracks the paths of the icebergs using GPS.
Other things to do in Twillingate are hiking, sea kayaking, berry picking, exploring a handful of historic buildings or simply relaxing!
20. Ucluelet, British Columbia
Sinead from Map Made Memories: the charming, small town of Ucluelet is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Within the town, visit the pretty harbor and spot the colorful anemones clinging to the posts or take a sailing or kayaking trip around the stunning local coastline.
On a rainy day, visit the captivating Ucluelet Aquarium. The Pacific Rim National Park starts on the doorstep of the town and offers diverse hiking trails through rainforests and across deserted, windswept beaches.
Walk at least one of the trails of the developing Wild Pacific Trail. These accessible shoreline hiking trails provide fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean, sheltered rocky bays and the Broken Islands.
Insider travel tip: bring binoculars for spotting wildlife!
We visited Ucluelet off-season; it was quiet, welcoming and friendly. We saw eagles on the dock at the harbor and deer walking down the tiny main street. Altogether, Ucluelet is one of our favorite small towns in Canada!
Also read my Victoria itinerary (capital of BC and located on Vancouver Island as well).
21. Val Marie, Saskatchewan
Val Marie is tiny town in Saskatchewan and the main gateway to the Grasslands National Park. The village was founded in 1910 by (as its name suggests) French ranchers.
Interesting fact: while the residents of Val Marie were mostly ethnically in the 1950’s, the last unilingual Francophone resident died in 1981 and English is now universally spoken.
There isn’t necessarily that much to do in Val Marie itself, though you can find a small movie theater, library, community center and a grocery store.
Furthermore, there are two heritage buildings in Val Marie: the Val Marie School (which is used as a museum, cafe, gift shop and art gallery) and the Val Marie Elevator (which is currently being restored).
Also, as the gateway to the Grasslands National Park, you can find the Grasslands Visitor Center in Val Marie, with very friendly and knowledgeable staff who love to talk about ‘their’ park.
I highly recommend to camp in the Grasslands National Park for at least one night, I’ve never seen the starry Milky Way so well… If you prefer staying at a hotel, check out the Convent Inn, a beautifully renovated Catholic school with 10 lovely rooms.
22. Wakefield, Quebec
Laura from Ottowa Road Trips: just 35 kilometers northwest of Ottawa, the Quebec village of Wakefield feels a world away from Canada’s capital. One of its biggest attractions is the red covered bridge over the Gatineau River, rebuilt after a devastating 1984 fire.
The main street of Wakefield is lined with artsy shops, don’t miss the handmade truffles at La Confiserie Wakefield and the fair-trade gifts at La Tulipe Noire! For music lovers, the Black Sheep Inn (more of a pub, really) offers a packed schedule of live shows.
Romantics head to the Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa, housed in a historic stone mill above frothing MacLaren Falls. Downhill skiers can check out Ski Vorlage right in the village or Sommet Edelweiss, eight kilometres to the east.
Families gravitate to nearby Arbraska Laflèche, where they can explore caves, whizz down ziplines or test their nerve on an aerial course of rope bridges and dangling obstacles.
Speaking of nerve: the Great Canadian Bungee Jump (five kilometers south of Wakefield) sends thrill seekers hurtling 61 meters (200 feet) downward toward the waters of Morrison’s Quarry!
23. Waskesiu, Saskatchewan
Mayuri from To Some Place New: Waskesiu is a town by Lake Waskesiu, situated within Prince Albert National Park in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Its a great location for camping, picnic and to enjoy some fun under the sun.
The name, ‘Waskesiu’ literally means ‘red deer’ in Cree and is known for its National park Waskesiu National Park/Prince Albert National Park. Prince Albert is the third largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and is usually the village associated with the National Park.
Fun fact: there is a city by the name of Red Deer in Canada too, located in Alberta.
Residents of Saskatchewan flock to Lake Waskesiu during summers for overnight camping trips, or as a quick day trip from Saskatoon for picnic at the beach. There are lots of things to do, eat and see at Lake Waskesiu like bird watching, fishing, Aurora watching, biking, golfing, etc.
Other then Lake Waskesiu, Prince Albert is also a nice haven with slow living, small town joys of ice-creams, sunsets and beautiful prairie outdoors. Prince Albert has hidden heritage gems spread across town. There is a railway museum, bridges and cool restaurants to keep you busy during your stay here.
The drive to the Waskesiu lake is very scenic as well. The nearest airport to Waskesiu/ Prince Albert is Saskatoon, a 2.5 hour drive away.
24. Waterton, Alberta
Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew: Waterton is a tiny little town within Waterton Lakes National Park in the far southwest corner of the province of Alberta.
With a population of 105 in the summer and under 50 in the winter and built on only 1 square mile, it’s one of the smallest towns in Canada. However, the town of Waterton offers a lot for being so tiny. Multiple hotels, shops, and restaurants dot the main street, including the delicious Waffleton and Wieners of Waterton, which should not be missed!
If you’re looking for a splurge with an incredible view, have tea at the Prince of Wales hotel which perches high on a hill overlooking the townsite.
And of course, being located inside a National Park, there is plenty of sightseeing and hiking to do. You can also take a cruise on Waterton Lake where you’ll learn about the history and ecology of the park. Keep a sharp eye out for wildlife as bald eagles, osprey, grizzly bears and black bears can easily be spotted around town!
25. Watrous, Saskatchewan
Carol from Wandering Carol is originally from Saskatoon and know Watrous very well as she has visited the town many times:
Watrous is a small town in Saskatchewan that is one of Canada’s best kept secrets. Located 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Saskatoon, it was established in 1906 and has two fascinating treasures no visitor should miss.
One is the All Saints Anglican Church on the Main Street. Here you’ll find 500-year old stained glass windows that came from the Church of St John the Baptist in Wiltshire, England. Definitely something you don’t expect to see in a prairie town!
The other treasure is Manitou Lake, just outside town. This legendary lake is associated with many First Nations myths and stories and is considered especially healing. What is unique about it is that its salt content is so high you can float as you would in the Dead Sea, and the water’s minerals such as calcium, magnesium and silica are considered beneficial for skin ailments and sore muscles and joints.
Winter is cold in Canada and particularly in Saskatchewan, nevertheless the lake is a good place to visit year round. In the summer you can swim (or at least float) in the lake, while a large indoor spa and bathing complex means you can still soak in the mineral waters when the lake freezes up!
Best Canadian small towns: in conclusion
I hope this list has inspired you to visit these hidden gems in Canada. And while these towns are definitely some of the best Canada has to offer, these are loads more charming Canadian villages to visit.
What is your favorite Canadian small town?
Also read my other posts about Canada:
- 15 epic places to go in Canada
- Best day trips from Vancouver
- Canada road trip budget
- How to buy a Car in Canada as a tourist
- Sea to Sky highway road trip guide
- Things to do in Niagara Falls with kids
- Drumheller itinerary
- Vancouver itinerary
- Winnipeg itinerary
- Winter sports on Mount Seymour