5. Canmore, Alberta
Like many of Canada’s greatest small towns, Canmore was founded when the Canadian Pacific Railway was built. According to the local government’s website, Donald A. Smith named Canmore in 1884. The town became an official municipality when Queen Victoria granted it a coal mining charter in 1886. By 1887, the first coal mine had opened, and the first Mounted Police barracks was constructed in 1890.
Coal mines formed the basis of Canmore’s economy for several decades, but in 1979, the last mine finally shut down. In 1988, Canmore had the honor of hosting the Nordic events for the Calgary Winter Olympics, bringing a much needed economic boom. Since that time, Canmore’s population has tripled. Today, Canmore’s burgeoning economy is based on recreation and tourism.
If you enjoy outdoor adventures, Canmore is the perfect small town. The Canmore website lists a huge variety of activities, including hiking, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and more. The city boasts five large ski resorts, and there are more than 71 kilometers of trails inside city limits.
Canmore also features the famed Nordic Centre, which was the host to all biathlon and cross-country skiing events during the 1988 Winter Olympics. This state of the art facility draws in skiers from around the world, and it’s also the home of Canada’s national cross-country skiing and biathlon teams.
The wellness industry plays a major part in Canmore’s economy. Traditional and complementary practitioners provide health services of all types including physiotherapy, surgery, dentistry and ophthalmology. Canmore is also home to a respected center for cancer treatment and a modern hospital.
According to the Canmore Alberta website, Canmore is also a popular destination for artists and photographers. The city overlooks the Three Sisters Mountains to the south. Fishermen frequent Canmore for the variety of lakes surrounding this small city. Other visitors love Canmore for its many festivals, including the Canmore Highland Games and the Canmore Folk Music Festival.