The choice of where to retire depends on several factors—cost of living, local services, family—but for many people, taking advantage of Canada’s natural beauty is pretty high on the list. Finding the right community is essential to making retirement years truly golden. The following locales have the best to offer adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and culture snobs alike.
Victoria, British Columbia
Let’s just get this one out of the way. If there were a competition for cutest Canadian city, Victoria would own it. Walking paths wind along the glittering Pacific coast, historic buildings poke out along charming tree-lined streets, and you couldn’t stop the tulips from blooming on every available patch of earth if you tried. Victoria also boasts Canada’s mildest climate. And thanks to the Olympic mountains in Washington State, Victoria is shielded from much of the rain that hits its metropolitan neighbour, Vancouver. If you need a little excitement from time-to-time, the big city is only a ferry ride away—but even without leaving the island, Victorians are close to a variety of getaways and diversions, including boating, golf, art, wine, and culture. Victoria has everything a retiree could want, and twice the charm.
Trinity Bight, Newfoundland
It’s no surprise that the filmmakers chose Trinity Bight to play “Tickle Cove,” in the 2013 film The Grand Seduction. The secluded fishing town with unbelievable coastal views boasts boardwalk paths, limitless ocean vistas, and authentic, salt-scrubbed Newfie personality. The area is sparsely populated, but the town of Trinity has a theatre community, an art gallery, and several B&Bs. While its isolation and winter bluster might scare some away, Trinity Bight is a great place for adventurers who want to get back to nature and experience the true wild beauty of Eastern Canada.
Nothing quite says “freedom” like the expansive, sunny vistas of the prairies. While Saskatchewan may not yet be a standard retirement hot spot, the Retirement Planning Institute chose Canora as a top places to retire because of housing prices, the variety of outdoor activities, and its small-town lifestyle. Canora is a 40-minute drive from Good Spirit Lake and an hour and a half from Quill Lake, both of which host a thriving cottage culture and some of the best bird watching in the country. The town was also judged to have the best-tasting municipal water in Canada. Sometimes it’s the small things, you know?
Lake of Bays, Ontario
A remote lakeside in Ontario may not seem like the most likely place to run into celebrities, but it turns out a whole flock of stars—including Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Shania Twain—get their cottage on in Muskoka. There’s good reason. Muskoka is home to some of Canada’s most beautiful lake country, and the Lake of Bays Township is particularly serene. There’s all the fishing, boating, and camping you could ask for, and if the lakeside recreation leaves you thirsty, you can head out to the Lake of Bays Brewing Company for a pint of craft beer.
Banff is one of Canada’s best-loved mountain towns, but it’s also expensive, trendy, and crammed with tourists. Luckily, Canmore is just a stone’s throw away. Canmore offers similar skiing and hiking opportunities to Banff, but in a more affordable, laid-back locale. Besides a rugged natural setting, Canmore also provides luxuries such as spas, restaurants, and golf courses. And if you’re looking for more unique diversions, you can try dogsledding or checking out the Canmore Highland games.
Though it’s technically a suburb of Montreal, Hudson has its own unique identity. It’s a harmonious place for both francophones and anglos—a rarity in Quebec—and is home to many British and American immigrants. The sense of community is strong. Hudson loves to get its citizens together, whether it’s for the week-long winter Shiver Fest carnival or a trip to Finnegan’s Market to check out farm produce and antiques. The town is on the Ottawa River and is surrounded by farm and forest land. Hudson is quaint (or “charmant”) in the best sense of the word.