Smaller Cities of Canada
Although the great majority of Canadian immigrants will choose to settle in one of the four major cities described above, there are a number of other options. With its booming energy industry and vigorous economy, the Alberta city of Edmonton is attracting more newcomers than ever before. Canada’s capital city may be small, but if you’re looking for culture and education without the big city congestion, Ottawa might be your best choice. Elsewhere, Winnipeg, Quebec and the Maritime provinces also have their own special charms.
There’s no denying that oil and petrochemicals drive the engine of Edmonton’s zooming economy, but Edmonton is far more than just a field of mines and refineries. True, Alberta may have the second largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia, but today Edmonton has become one of Canada’s premier research and education centers for technology and nano-science in particular.
With close to a million people, and 1.3 million in the greater metro area, Edmonton has all the services of a major city, and no shortage of jobs either. Median household income is just over $100,000 a year, and the average single family home is selling for about $360,000 as of January 2019. The real estate market has slowed considerably since 2016-17, and condo prices have been hit the hardest.
In addition to being called the Oil Capital of Canada, Edmonton has also earned the title of “Canada’s Festival City”. Throughout the summer, the city puts on a spectacular display of creativity and imagination, with festivals to celebrate folk music, street performance, Shakespeare, Chinese Dragon Boats, and more. And in the winter they host numerous festivals to glorify the ice and snow. If it’s access to nature you’re looking for, Edmonton’s river valley, with over 20 major parks and attractions, forms the largest expanse of urban parkland in the country.
Situated on the southern bank of the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario, Canada’s capital city stands at the border between Quebec and English-speaking Canada and is officially bilingual. Linked to Gatineau across the river, the two cities form the Ottawa-Gatineau metro area, with a population of roughly 1.3 million. With a far lower rate of immigration than other Canadian cities, visible minorities make up only about 23 percent of Ottawa’s population.
The bulk of Ottawa’s economy revolves around government and public service jobs, but the city also has a growing high tech industry. Home to about 1,800 tech firms, the city is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of the North. Unemployment in Ottawa is lower than the national average, and economic growth is slightly higher. As of January 2019, the average home costs around $390,000.
Ottawa has a very well educated population and the highest concentration of engineers, scientists and PhDs in the country. The city has two universities and two main colleges. Most schools provide children with a bilingual education, but emphasizing either French or English, and there’s a wide variety of public and religious schools throughout the city.
The capital of Manitoba has a population of about 700,000. Unlike other major Canadian cities with higher immigration rates, visible minorities comprise only about 23 percent of Winnipeg. The city’s Aboriginal population is actually growing more quickly, and is now up to about 12.5 percent. For a small city, Winnipeg hosts a tremendous variety of festivals, mostly in the summer.
Winnipeg has one of the most diversified economies in the country. Most employment comes from trade, manufacturing, education and healthcare. Many companies choose Winnipeg because it is one of the least expensive western Canadian cities in which to conduct business. The cost of living and housing are notably lower in prairie cities like Winnipeg. On the downside, the city’s inland location makes its climate particularly undesirable, even by Canadian standards, earning it the nickname “Winter-Peg”.
The capital of French Canada, with a population of just 500,000, most employment in Quebec city is provided by the provincial government. The vast majority of residents are French speaking, and only 3 percent of the population are visible minorities, the smallest proportion of any major Canadian city. Quebec City residents enjoy a very low cost of living and housing.
Canada’s rugged east coast may be a thing of beauty for tourists and fisherman, but it’s hardly a magnet for Canadian immigrants. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island make up the Maritime provinces, a sparsely populated area with little industry besides fishing, logging and tourism. Halifax, Nova Scotia, is by far the region’s biggest city, with a population of around 400,000.
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