O Canada - The Best Place To Live in Canada

The Best Places To Live In Canada

I was born on the West Coast, and I will always be a West Coaster. You can't take the ocean out of the girl...but after growing up traveling from coast to coast, and having lived in almost every province in this vast and beautiful country, I settled in Alberta. It wasn't my choice at the time, but now I can't think of a better place to live. In fact, to me, it's one of the best places to live in Canada.

Most folks who know Alberta are familiar with Banff and Jasper, two internationally renown mountain resort towns famous for their world-class skiing and unrivaled mountain vistas.

Two of my favorite spots are slightly less well known, but each is remarkable for its own wild, unique, and totally spectacular scenery. Both spots are high on my list of the best places to live, and, as the cost of living remains low and services improve, more seniors than ever, especially those with an eye for the unique and the remote, are looking to these areas as places to retire.

Mind you, the seasonal temperature range in either spot is not for the faint of heart, especially the badlands of Southern Alberta. Peace River Country, though, is one of the fastest developing regions in the province, with both industrial and agricultural projects vying for land and attention. Some of the best honey in the world comes out of the fields and hills around Peace River.

Our Home and Native Land
Our Home and Native Land
Sunrise over the North Peace at Fort Vermillion
Sunrise over the North Peace at Fort Vermillion
Moose Country
Moose Country
The Peace River Valley
The Peace River Valley
The Mighty Peace River
The Mighty Peace River

They call it Big Sky Country, and it certainly is. Watching a summer storm roll in, billowing clouds filling the miles-long horizon, brazen green-tinged sky below riven by white-hot flares of lightening, black roiling thunderheads above, charging down in at breakneck speed - cinematographers live for scenes like that.

You can see the weather coming for miles here, and when the leaden, snow-laden winter clouds settle in, piling up all along the edges of the sky, you know that Old Man Winter is here to stay for a while.

Long known in the United States as a hunter's paradise, the Peace River area plays host to big game hunters from around the world. Hunters return each fall from Germany, Japan, and other far-flung places to enjoy some of the wildest and most beautiful untouched back-country still in existence.

A recent entry into the eco-tourism field, hunting with a camera, photo-hunting, is proving to be a big draw. The participants experience the same thrills as the sport hunter - "roughing it", trekking wilderness area with experienced guides, fresh air and amazing food, and stalking their prey. The prey gets to go home too though, and at the end of the day, the hunters carry away the experience of a lifetime, and they have the photos to prove it.

To be sure, it takes a special kind of person to live there. Major centers are few and far between, and local shopping may leave something to be desired if you are used to perusing your corner boutiques for the latest fashions from Paris and New York.

You would, however, have access to some of the best produce, farm-fresh poultry, eggs, and specialty meats, in the world. Several farms from this area are featured producers, staple providers of quality meat products at the local farmers' markets in the city where I now live, Their sausages, pepperoni, salami, and smoked meats appear on supermarket shelves across this country as well as in some large chain stores south of the border.

The original settlers came form a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but they had a few things in common beside their desire for land. They had a pioneering spirit - they were willing to work hard for what they wanted. They believed that they should stand on their own two feet and make a life - a life free from well-intentioned government interference. Many feel that localized government is far more responsive to the needs of its people than some faceless beaurocrats at the other end of the country.

That spirit of independence seems to pervade the very air up there. The people stand a little taller, walk a little prouder. They help out a neighbor without a second thought, and without waiting for some agency to intervene because "that's just what you do". If you have pioneering spirit and a Northerner's attitude this little piece of wild heaven might be the place for you.

Excavated from the badlands near Drumheller
Excavated from the badlands near Drumheller
The newly expanded Royal Tyrrell Museum
The newly expanded Royal Tyrrell Museum
A diorama at the Royal Tyrrell
A diorama at the Royal Tyrrell
What big teeth you have...
What big teeth you have...
The Alberta Badlands - the Hoodoos near Drumheller
The Alberta Badlands - the Hoodoos near Drumheller
Sunrise at Writing On Stone National Park
Sunrise at Writing On Stone National Park

Drumheller, Dinosaur Country, The Royal Tyrrell Museum, The Hoodoos, Writing On Stone National Park - these are names to conjure by.

In 1884, in an unassuming corner of the Alberta - the Red Deer River Valley - Joseph Burr Tyrrell uncovered the fossilized remains of a dinosaur. Named for its founder, the Royal Tyrrell Museum, world renown and the only one in Canada dedicated solely to the study of Paleontology, opened September 25, 1985 and was given "Royal" status by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990.

Some 47,000 square feet of the museum’s sprawling 121,000 square foot complex is dedicated to a series of display galleries that tell the history of our earth – some 3.9 billion years of it.

One of the most popular exhibits is the Dinosaur Hall with over 40 mounted skeletons. It includes such wonders as T-Rex, the mighty Tyrannosaurus, and Albertosaurus, an impressive smaller cousin to T-Rex, weighing in at only two tons.

Of all the other exhibits, the most popular are Lords of the Land, a vast exhibit dedicated to the dinosaurs, Devonian Reef, a life-sized model of a million year old reef, and the Cretaceous Garden which houses over 600 species of living plants.

Another popular pair of exhibits, Age of Mammals and Ice Ages, cover mammalian life in the Cenozoic Age.

A window into the Preparation Lab affords visitors a glimpse into the work of the skilled technicians who carefully prepare the fossils for research and exhibition.

…and no visit to the Royal Tyrrell would be complete without taking in some of the interactive educational stations simulating fossil digs, fossil casting, and much more.

The first thing you notice though, when you step out of your hopefully air conditioned vehicle is the heat. The second is the wind. After you have chased down your sunhat for the third or fourth time, you begin to understand how that elemental force of nature, almost always present in these parts, could have eroded something as hard as stone into the amazing tortured shapes of the hoodoos.

Carved from living rock, worn and burnished into fantastic shapes by the ever-present wind, the Hoodoos are among the most amazing natural sights on this planet...and I do mean ever-present wind. I have never seen a day in Lethbridge without wind ranging from a gentle zephyr to a full-out, gale-force blow.

You can always spot someone from Lethbridge. They walk with a slight forward lean - a survival technique made habitual by constantly thrusting oneself forward against the prevailing winds. They also exhibit a slightly bemused look when emerging from their vehicles, hands at the ready to grab hats, scarves, and outer wear to keep it from blowing away, only to discover there is no wind to pull at their clothing and send them pelting down the street after their errant headgear.

The sheer grandeur of the scenery more than makes up for the heat and the restless air. Some have described the badlands and the Hoodoos as looking like "the far side of the moon and about as hospitable". Theirs is an austere grandeur, a remote and harsh beauty, once seen impossible to forget. Not everyone's cup of tea...but an amazing experience, nonetheless, and one not to be missed.

Scarlet Maples
Scarlet Maples

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41 comments

Joe Andover profile image

Joe Andover 7 years ago from North Ridgeville, Ohio

A well written article. Very descriptive. Lovely pictures. It sounds as if you are totally happy in Alberta.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Welcome, Joe Andover. So pleased you enjoyed the writing. There's a lot to love about this place ;)


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

RedElf!! Beautiful! One of the ads is for Granville Island, Vancouver - a fave place of mine when I trot up there!! I lived in Winnepeg as a kid, can't wait for you to cover that province! (Heritage park to be exact.. hint..hint..) Thank you for sharing Alberta, I've never spent any time there and it's amazing to see the varied landscapes.


kerryg profile image

kerryg 7 years ago from USA

Thanks for answering my request! I was really delighted that you chose to write about Alberta because my husband and I are hoping to visit Banff and Jasper sometime in the next year or so, and I was starting to prowl around for some places a little more off the beaten path to check out as well. Peace River in particular sounds like a place that we would love.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks Candie! I love Vancouver too, especially the Granville Island Market. We practically grew up in Stanley Park (zoo and gardens)...and yes, there are some amazing places in Manitoba. There's quite a large and beautiful bird sanctuary, as well as some amazing scenery around the Grand Rapids area, to say nothing of the commercial fisheries. Thanks for the idea.

You are most certainly welcome, kerryg. Thanks for the great question. It's a bit of a hike from Jasper, but certainly worth the trip. It is amazing in the fall - I was lucky enough to be there when the Sand Hills Cranes were migrating down the river (they have a regular stop-over there). Amazing!


Jess Killmenow profile image

Jess Killmenow 7 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

You must really love this place. I'll have to come and visit sometime.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Hey, thanks, Jess. I sure do - you head up this way and I'll put the coffee on!


Ellen Karman profile image

Ellen Karman 7 years ago from medina, Ohio

Hi RedElf. Wow. You describe Canada like I remember my first 21 years of life living in New Hampshire on the coast. But, the Lakes region and Mt. Washington were never a far drive. My Goal is to buy a class C motor home or a travel trailer and pull it with my truck and see and photograph North America. I want to meet the people that live in all the small towns and write about my experience or meeting America. I'm two years from that goal as my youngest will be off to college and thankfully I got married to my college sweet heart at 22 (we met at UNH) and now live in Ohio where he is from. Though I long for the ocean and the call of harbor bells, the salty fog and even the pungent aroma of the marsh! But, I must say N.E Ohio is pretty country and we own Furniture factories and employ all Amish craftsmen. It's neat spending time in the Amish communities - it's like stepping back in time.

Your descriptive writing of Canada made me get butterflys and feel the need to see it. If my plans pan out and I hit the road I'll be sure to plan my route to head up your way. Your photos were beautiful. Thank you for welcoming me and I am excited to be in a group of writers and am anxious to keep adding hubs and reading and learning from others. Thank you again and happy writing! Ellen


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Wow! Thanks, Ellen. There are some wonderful places to see and visit here. I sure hope you manage to get up this way, I know you'll really enjoy meeting the people. Glad to meet you, too. I look forward to reading more of your Hubs.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Red Elf there is no better place to live in the whole wide world than Canada. I have lived in quite a few places here in Canada since 1969. I always hoped to settle down in the mountains between BC and Alberta but I guess it's not meant to be.

Great hub

kindest regards Zsuzsy


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Zsuzsy Bee, You got that one right! So sorry it didn't work out for you. That would have been a beautiful area. Hope you'll find your perfect place somewhere else :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

You do a great job with descriptions RE! :)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much FP, you are too kind.

*laughs, with embarrassed pleasure*

Me & hyperbole - kinda like ham & eggs, heavy on the ham sometimes, LOL.

Seriously, though, thanks so much. I really appreciate your comment.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Makes me proud to say I'm a Canuck - great hub RedElf! Absolutely loved it! From one Canuck to another - keep your stick on the ice ;)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, eh! So glad you enjoyed the hub, Enelle!


Montreal is Just Like France 6 years ago

Having been to many places in Canada I can safely say its a great place to live. I just got back from a trip to Montreal and I loved it.

Being from the States the only part that I couldn't get used to or why I would not live there is the taxes. Its just too much, for me. Most people in Canada are used to them but the income, province, and sales tax would kill me. The sales tax in Quebec province alone is 14%. The income tax is over 30%. Hum??

Bedsides that there is nothing bad I can say. Crime is way less, standard of living in on par with US, people friendly, beautiful cities, etc

-Wesley


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Indeed, Montreal, some of our provinces are truly "blessed" with taxes! ...and yes, the basic Income tax rate is quite high compared to other places. The government tells us it is to pay for all the services we enjoy but I don't think anyone takes that one too seriously ;) Montreal is beautiful city - I haven't seen eastern Canada for much too long - time for a trip back there!


Mardi profile image

Mardi 6 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

Alberta is my home province, thanks for the great highlighting of the area! I agree, the Peace River area is something else, especially in the fall.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Always nice to meet a fellow Albertan, Mardi. Yes it is so beautiful. Thanks for stopping by to comment.


Hanna Bambina profile image

Hanna Bambina 6 years ago

I agree Cananda would be a cool place to live; as it has the cool attitude of America; without all the weirdos...


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks, Hanna - we have our weirdos too, lol - maybe just not quite so many yet ;)


ccycle profile image

ccycle 6 years ago from beijing

Feel good, if interested in China's tourism and see me, are beautiful.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much. I will have to check out your hubs!


Katrina Ariel profile image

Katrina Ariel 6 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

I love Canada - I'm so proud to live there. I grew up in the states but am now a Canadian Citizen and BC is my home. The mountains are spectacular there, and the people of Canada are truly something special.

Thanks for this beautiful hub!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

You are most welcome! I grew up close to the mountains, both at the coast and in the interior. They are magnificent!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

Our hearts have migrated to that west coast corner of the world and we are even considering a move in the distant future. A visit to Vancouver is high on my list but you have definitely widened my horizons.

You are a prolific and talented writer. So looking forward to reading more of your work!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much RTalloni! I am so pleased you liked the article. I am a West Coaster by birth, and you can't do much better for a place to enjoy the country - except maybe go North ;)


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

RedElf, as a fellow canuk, I agree with you that Canada is naturally beautiful. Some friends and I did a road trip from Toronto to Vancouver. That was spectacular. The Rockies are so breathe taking and awe inspiring. Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper are beautiful. Eastern Canada is also beautiful.

We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing about the magnificience of this amazing land, Canada.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, DynamicS! I haven't been down east for years. The Falls there are so beautiful! I love all the red Maples. I love to write about Canada and share all the great places here. So glad you enjoyed it.


billnelems profile image

billnelems 6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Being Canadian, I have to agree. I travel out of the country often, and each time I return, I kiss the Canadian soil.......

Living in Canada is like winning the lottery every day!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Too true, Bill! I am grateful to have had such a lucky accident of birth!


Angelica Maria 6 years ago

Wonderful, wishing to travel soon to canada. Is my dream!!!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

I really hope you are able to make it up here sometime, Angelica! Thanks for commenting.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Great Hub, BTW I couldn't take my eyes off the WO, what great host! Peace :)


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, katiem2. I am so glad you enjoyed the hub. Peace to you, as well ;)


mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

I'm so glad you put Drumheller AB on this hub! What a fantastic region of Alberta. If you can spend a day around that region, some simple hiking is a sufficiently worthy activity out there - with no need to spend ANY money whatsoever (provided you take a pack along with snacks and sufficient water for your journeys).


RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, mythbuster - how could I miss "Drum"? One of the best places to spend time in the whole province!


visionandfocus profile image

visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

I lived in Vancouver for 10 years before moving to Toronto almost 7 years ago. Was in Alberta for just a couple of days, never had the chance to look around properly, but your amazing photos of the dinosaurs and especially that one of the Badlands make me want to go asap! Great article. Thanks for sharing.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks so much, visionandfocus - you'll love the Badlands in person even more!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I've never been to Alberta. Any travelling my family ever did was to visit my grandparents. That never left time or money to go elsewhere. I've taken to visiting places in BC I've never been to before. Yourhub has given me ideas of where to travel in Alberta besides the obvious places.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada Author

So glad to have given you some ideas, Flora! Hope to see you up here sometime :D

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