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Travel / October 30, 2016

Moving to Canada? Move here.

Written by: Matt Minich

Election day is coming. And whatever the results, that means a whole lot of folks are about to move to Canada …at least that’s what we’ve read on Facebook.

We’re suckers for peer pressure. So this week, we looked into our own move to the True North—and we found a few towns we might move to no matter who wins on Nov. 8.


Nelson, British Columbia

Nelson's Whitewater Ski Resort gets more than 40 feet of snow each season. Photo by Ian Brown.

The MTB terrain around Nelson is among the best in the world, but isn't as crowded as the trails of nearby Kamloops. Photo by Courtney Nash.

Population: ~10,500
Best restaurant: Main Street Diner 
Best bar: The Royal Grill and Lounge
Best sports: Skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking

British Columbia’s “Queen City” is the ski town you’ve been looking for. The town is nestled at the base of Whitewater Ski Resort—a powder Mecca that gets about 40 feet of snow each season—but is refreshingly free of ski resort vibes.

The town itself is a sort of hippie utopia. Residents are likely to grow their own veggies and live off the grid. As a result, Nelson is rich with healthy, vegetarian and vegan-friendly dining options.

In the summer months, locals turn to more than 100 nearby mountain biking trails. Though the riding doesn’t have the reputation of nearby Kamloops, it’s considered just as good by those in the know.

Thunder Bay, Ontario

The lakeside village of Thunder Bay feels much like a coastal Scandinavian town. Justin Brown photo.

Most of Thunder Bay's best trails tour a high ridge called "The Sleeping Giant". Justin Brown photo.

Population: ~110,000
Best restaurant: Scandinavian Home Restaurant
Best bar: Portside Bar
Best sports: Boating, fishing, climbing, hiking

Thunder Bay doesn’t just have a little bit of everything—it’s got a lot everything. Its location on the northern shore of Lake Ontario offers access to great boating and fishing, and the land around the town is rich with hiking trails and rock/ice crags.

The town is perhaps best known for its sea kayaking. Advanced paddlers often use it as a home base for multi-day trips, while novices take lessons from local outfitters. Those who prefer solid ground spend their days hiking dozens of trails in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Thunder Bay is relatively big for an adventure town, so it offers enough dining options to keep most residents interested. It’s particularly known for its Scandinavian food and its freshwater fish (duh).

Saint-Raymond, Quebec

Much of Saint-Raymond feels like a small European village... and not just because everyone speaks French. Saint-Raymond CVB photo.

A Via Ferrata just outside of town offers great views to those with the guts. Saint-Raymond CVB photo.

Population: ~9,800
Best restaurant/bar: Hotel Roquemont
Best sports: Mountain biking, backpacking, roped adventure

Some people really value bars, restaurants, and the like. Others just want to spend every free moment trying something new in the outdoors. Those latter folks are the ones who’ll like Saint-Raymond.

The mountains around the town offer dozens of mountain bike trails, including the world-class Neilson Trail. More than 50 miles of hiking trails can be accessed from downtown, as can a thrilling Via Ferrata.

Saint-Raymond itself is beautiful, but isn’t known for its creature comforts. The best food, beer, and lodging can all be found in one place: the Hotel Roquemont.

Banff, Alberta

Downtown Banff is surrounded by some of the most dramatic peaks in North America. Bernard Spragg photo.

Banff's Lake Louise is one of the most photographed places on Earth. It's not hard to see why. Juan Rivera photo.

Population: ~8,000
Best restaurant: The Juniper Bistro
Best bar: Banff Ave. Brewing
Best sports: Climbing, backcountry skiing/splitboarding

Banff has it all. Located right in the middle of Banff National Park, the town is surrounded on all sides by some of the best mountain terrain in the western hemisphere.

It’s a sort of like North American Chamonix. World-class rock and ice climbing attracts some of the world’s best alpinists, and the lifts of Sunshine Village lure in skiers seeking great snow and extreme terrain.

But not all of Banff’s attractions are adrenaline-fueled. Animal lovers enjoy the nearby Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary, and pretty much everyone can appreciate the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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