A recent survey named Canada as the tenth friendliest country in the world. For people who like to think of ourselves as pretty modest and humble, this was a pretty big deal! Nowhere does this sense of hospitality shine quite like small towns and these 19 destinations are outstanding examples of Canadian kindness at its best. With an overwhelming selection of amazing communities to choose from, I made sure the list represented all regions of Canada and gave special consideration to those destinations where I saw firsthand just how incredibly neighborly people can be.
Many moons ago, a popular sketch comedy show in Canada featured a recurring character known as “Mike from Canmore.” Ever since, the good-natured residents of this western Alberta town have put up with the wisecracks. Thankfully, Canmore residents have a great sense of humor and they’re good sports about the hapless “Mike” — and proud to show visitors their community’s many attractions, including its spectacular natural beauty.
Tiny Carberry is old-fashioned farm livin’ at its best. Here in the area nicknamed “King Spud Country,” folks go the extra distance to help each other out — and to welcome visitors who head into town for the heritage buildings on Main Street, the beautiful gardens, and the small museums. The Wednesday evening farmer’s market is the perfect place to grab some berries and baked goods (and listen in on the local gossip).
Digby, Nova Scotia
Famous for producing the most delicious scallops in the world, this seafood destination along Nova Scotia’s southwest coast is equally well known for hospitality. Everyone here goes the extra mile to give visitors an outstanding experience. Some of the incredible offerings to help guests feel at home in Digby include sea-to-table excursions with local lobster fishers and deluxe spa treatments in historic resorts.
Edmundston, New Brunswick
If you’re road-tripping across Canada, chances are there’ll be a smile on your face as soon as you enter Edmundston. This small city of less than 17,000 is a welcome sight after the long stretch of empty highway which precedes it in eastern Quebec. But once you move your legs for a bit, you’ll soon realize that Edmundston is more than just a great rest stop. The bilingual residents are eager to help visitors, something I learned firsthand when I got lost searching for the city’s dog park. Even the mayor responded to my social media plea for directions!
Hay River, Northwest Territories
Nicknamed “the hub of the north,” Hay River is where tourists will find plenty of amenities and resources — and also plenty of charm. Helping people start their adventures is a point of pride for those who work in the travel industry and whether you’re planning on some kayaking, hiking, or even golf, you’ll be met with heartfelt warm welcomes. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit during the K’amba Carnival at K’atl’odeeche First Nation, where spectators enjoy the thrill of hand games and dogsled races.
Labrador City, Newfoundland
Lab City (technically a town, with just over 7,000 people) embodies the selfless community spirit that all of Labrador is known for. The community serves as both the start and finish line for Cain’s Quest, the world’s toughest snowmobile race. Snowmobilers from all over have benefited from Lab City’s enthusiastic volunteers and no-fuss approach to making everyone feel at home.
La Malbaie, Quebec
Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, pretty La Malbaie has a long-standing distinction as one of the most beautiful resort communities in Quebec. However, the community doesn’t rest on its reputation and new offerings are constantly being introduced to make guests feel at home. As such, chic restaurants, hotels, and shops abound.
Lockeport, Nova Scotia
As someone who grew up in Nova Scotia, I must confess to some bias in my belief that the province is an exceptionally friendly destination but what I heard from fellow travelers about the hospitality in Lockeport exceeded my expectations. Locals here seem to go out of their way to approach visitors, make sure they have all the information they need, and offer up free tours of different attractions and points of interest. Gifts of produce, invitations to come home with a family for dinner, and free use of backyards for camping are all part of everyday life in Lockeport.
Miscouche, Prince Edward Island
Occasionally overlooked by visitors on route to Prince Edward Island’s best-known attractions, Miscouche is filled with laid-back residents and homey charm. When you pop by the local bakeries and museums, expect to be asked all about your trip — and have people be genuinely interested in your response.
If teeny Mortlach, Saskatchewan, (home to about 261 people, give or take) did nothing but celebrate its annual Saskatoon Berry Festival, it would be worthy of being on this list. But even if they didn’t host the delicious homage to their local fruit, Mortlach would still be an utterly delightful visit. The community pride is palpable and Mortlach boasts superb opportunities for birdwatching and lots of local history, folklore, and archeology that residents are eager to share.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a tourism hotspot, thanks to its wineries (arguably the best in Canada), extraordinary festivals (including the world-renowned Shaw Festival), and pretty inns and heritage buildings. But the warmth you feel here goes beyond the usual courtesies in the tourism industry and you’ll always get the sense that people are glad you’ve dropped by.
Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
This tiny community of fewer than 800 people is only about 90 minutes from Banff but you’ll definitely feel the distance from the usual tourism hubbub. There are mountains, rivers, trails, parks, and, yes, hot springs aplenty but it’s the warm, welcoming residents that really make Radium stand out.
Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
If you want to break the ice in Rankin Inlet, you only need to do one thing: Ask about hockey.
Recently retired NHL player Jordin Tootoo was the first Inuk athlete to play professional hockey and he’s Rankin Inlet’s hometown hero. Residents love visitors who are keen to talk about their very own local superstar — as well as everything that’s happening in their community. If you’re visiting in spring, the annual Pakallak Tyme celebrations invite guests to enjoy snowmobile races, square dances, kids’ games, and much more.
Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories
Not every resident of Sachs Harbour is keen on conversation but that’s only because most of the residents are muskoxen! More than half the world’s muskoxen are located around Sachs Harbour and visiting them (from a safe, respectful distance) is an incredible nature experience. Plenty of chit-chat awaits you upon your return from the field and residents are pros at making visitors feel at home. They’ve already started welcoming cruise excursions with specialty tour companies and daytrippers are traditionally treated to showcases of local arts and culture.
Stratford locals are so down to earth that you’d never realize that they have heaps of bragging rights. They’re home to the world-famous Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and a pop star you might have heard of named Justin Bieber. But whether you’re an Oscar-winning thespian in town for a guest appearance or a humble backpacker, Stratford treats everyone the same.
There are plenty of places that claim to welcome out-of-town visitors but no one celebrates them quite like Stephenville. This western Newfoundland town hosts an annual, three-week-long Friendly Invasion Festival. The area was once home to the American Harmon Air Force Base and, as such, entertaining out of towners comes second nature to everyone. Locals organize events ranging from bonfires, concerts, and ATV tours to make sure visitors have the best possible experience.
There’s no great mystery as to why residents of Tadoussac, a seaside community in northern Quebec, are always so cheerful. If you spent your days eating fresh seafood, hanging out with beluga whales, and kayaking amongst the fjords, you’d probably be in a pretty good mood, too! Everyone here is fun, friendly, and up to exploring the great outdoors.
Watson Lake, Yukon
Just how friendly is Watson Lake? The community’s main attraction is an homage to every visitor who passed through town. At the Sign Post Forest, a huge collection of nearly 80,000 signs from around the world chronicle nearly 70 years of hospitality and adventure. If you happen to forget to bring along a tribute to your hometown, you can make a sign at the Visitor’s Center.
Less than an hour from the North Dakota border, small Weyburn flies under the radar but savvy visitors know that it’s one of the friendliest places in Saskatchewan. The warm hospitality is rounded out by a long list of things to do, from visiting the Heritage Village to a number of museums and galleries, plus evident local pride that Weyburn is consistently listed as the best place to live in the Prairie provinces.
Canada is a prime destination for visitors from the U.S. It has a wealth of attractions and activities to experience and is a good host for its North American neighbors: