The 40 #Happiest Places in Canada


What makes you happy? It could be an amazing meal, a great day of surfing, or simply cozying up with a good book and a warm latte—or it could be all of these things, and more. Canada consistently ranks among the top ten happiest countries in the world, and there are tons of reasons why. From the villages of Vancouver Island to the national parks of Newfoundland and Labrador, there is certainly no shortage of locales where you can “go to your happy place.” But which one is the happiest?

We sorted through over one hundred thousand social media conversations for hashtags like #cheerful, #blessed, and #happy, so now you can know for sure: These are the happiest places in Canada.

1. Lake Louise/Banff, AB

Instagram posts: 4,725,766

The happiest city in Canada should come as no surprise. No human can resist the cozy lodges, gorgeous vistas, and crisp mountain air of Banff and Lake Louise. Take the chairlift to the top of Mount Norquay—or climb the Via Ferrata route—then reward yourself with a 2,100-metre-high meal at the Cliffhouse Bistro. Even indoorsy types will find something to love here, like watching the snow fall from the famous Fairmont Banff Springs or indulging in delicious beverages at Banff Ave. Brewing Co.

2. Tofino, BC

Instagram posts: 1,816,314

Few more months until we are Registered Nurses! Rocking these sweaters proudly 💉

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Hanging ten in Canada’s surfing capital is sure to bring you pure bliss, and winter is the best season for surging swells. Here’s how you live your best life in Tofino: Head to Chesterman Beach to catch a wave, then warm up with one of Chocolate Tofino’s famous hot chocolates. Another way to warm up: a beach bonfire. They’re allowed on Chesterman Beach, and you’ll probably find one roaring once the sun goes down.

3. Wiarton, ON

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Road Tripping #wiarton #wiartonwillie #groundhog #ontario

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Could Wiarton’s good mood have something to do with the Wiarton Willie Festival? Only the locals know for sure, but we’d be willing to bet Ontario’s biggest winter festival has something to do with it. This year, Willie’s understudy will be taking over the weather-predicting tasks of the town’s albino rodent (#RIPWiartonWillie). If you start feeling chilly, duck into Berford Street Bookstore & Bazaar for a locally roasted coffee amongst stacks of books. If that’s not happiness, we don’t know what is.

4. Sandspit, BC

Instagram posts: 620,817

If a peaceful day of fishing sounds like your happy place, Sandspit is for you. This small town is a year-round hotbed for salmon and trout; in the winter, its steelhead trout fishing is legendary. Get out on the river in search of this elusive, prized fish—we’re sure you’ll be “hooked”! Or, just head to the pub at the Sandspit Inn to trade tales with the locals—you’ll feel like you were there.

5. Jasper, AB

Instagram posts: 427,437

I’m sure this picture looks familiar to everyone- but it was new to me! #MyJasper #VentureBeyond

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Forget Whistler; Jasper is one of Canada’s most pristine winter wonderlands. Icy blue Maligne Lake and cascading Athabasca Falls provide the breathtaking scenery, while Marmot Basin ski resort provides legendary powder and action-packed photo ops. You’ll even find Insta-worthy subjects in the pretty pastel pastries and latte art at local favourite Coco’s Café. It’s no wonder this town is so happy.

6. Trout River, NL

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Exploring one of my very favourite sunset spots with friends from far away.

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With natural beauty like Gros Morne National Park in its backyard, it’s easy to see why Trout River is one of Canada’s happiest places to live. Take a hike on the Eastern Point Trail and you’ll see what we mean, with its sweeping views of craggy mountains, green meadows, and Trout River Bay. Reward yourself for a day well spent at Seaside Restaurant, where a glass of wine, relaxing harp music, and sunset ocean views definitely equal happiness. It’s just math.

7. Mingan, QC

Instagram posts: 284,013

It’s no mistake that so many of the happiest towns are near nature reserves. And Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve isn’t just any park. It has another thing that makes everyone happy: puffins! Loads of them, along with dramatic limestone cliffs and whales frolicking in the waves. After a long day of exploring, live music and a cocktail at Bar l’Écoutille in nearby Havre-Saint-Pierre is the perfect nightcap.

8. Port Hardy, BC

Instagram posts: 218,300

Being outdoors makes people happy—that’s science. In Port Hardy, you can go from sand to snow in under two hours, experiencing all that Mother Nature has to offer. First, have a picnic on Storey’s Beach featuring the famous maple salmon from local legend Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish. Then, take a road trip to Mount Cain Alpine Park for an afternoon of skiing or snowboarding. End your day back in town sipping a latte at Café Guido, and you’ll never want to leave.

9. Red Lake, ON

Instagram posts: 189,235

Photo credit: Steve Bruno C/O Red Lake Outfitters

When the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the residents of Red Lake get happier! This region in northwestern Ontario’s “Sunset Country” embraces winter with festivals and events galore, from gallery shows featuring local artists to the Winter Carnival in February. For the seriously adventurous, Red Lake Outfitters even offers a special winter experience into the wilds of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.

10. Windsor, NS

Instagram posts: 172,877

The Birthplace of Hockey, Windsor, Nova Scotia

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Does hockey make you happy? Of course it does! Windsor is the birthplace of hockey and a must-visit for anyone who calls themselves a hockey fan. The Windsor Hockey Heritage Centre is only open until the end of September, but luckily, playing this sport is even better for the soul. Do some skating of your own on Long Pond, then join the locals for a pint at Spitfire Arms Pub. You can ask them why they’re so happy yourself, but we bet it has something to do with—you guessed it—hockey.

11. Smithers, BC

Instagram posts: 160,448

Photo credit: Phil Cornwall of Hashmark Photography

This northern interior town embodies pretty much everything people love about British Columbia: it’s got amazing landscapes, thrilling winter sports, and laid-back cafes. For the landscapes, make the trek to Twin Falls Recreation Site; for thrills, hit the slopes at Hudson Bay Mountain. And for apres-ski caffeine, cozy Two Sisters Café has your perfect beverage, from pumpkin spice lattes to locally roasted coffee.

12. Nain, NL

Instagram posts: 145,091

Had a great day out on the land with the staff of the Nain Research Centre today #nunatsiavut

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If peace and quiet bring you happiness, you’ll love Nain: it’s the northernmost permanent settlement in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it doesn’t get more secluded than that. In this town, you’ll want to head to the pub first. Find a friendly face at Atsanik Lodge who can point the way to attractions like Mount Sophie and Nain Hill. Or, cozy up in the pub all day. The locals have some interesting stories, too.

13. Gimli, MB

Instagram posts: 127,335

How do you spell “happy”? In Gimli, it’s just “A-R-T.” Visit Gimli Art Club for local pottery, paintings, and more, or attend a workshop to channel your own inner artist. If theatre is your style, Gimli’s got that too: check out the A-Spire Theatre to see what’s on with the local troupe. For a little bit of everything, spend the evening at the Ship & Plough, which has live music, comedy, and karaoke. In Gimli, variety—and the arts—are the spice of life.

14. Digby, NS

Instagram posts: 126,867

Do scallops make people happy? If Digby is any indication, the answer is yes. It’s the Scallop Capital of the World—and although Digby Scallop Days happens in August, you can still get these delicious shellfish all over town. Dine at The Wheelhouse, then take a stroll on Water Street and pop into its adorable stores. Crooked Timber Books has local art, vinyl records, and more than 17,000 books for you to browse. With such small-town charm, it’s no wonder Digby is so content.

15. Dawson City, YT

Instagram posts: 126,611

I want to thank some people for helping to inspire this trip! With out them I wouldn't be where I am today so thank you @cineamos! Meeting you this spring and spending time with you was one of the most inspirational times of my life and I'll always be thankful for the lessons you taught me! @goofy.aud and @megwke you guys put the wheels in motion for my converting my truck into a home and you're cross Canada tour was the basis for this trip! Lastly @andrewstrain when I first met you a few years back you told me of the Alaska highway and the great beauty the north holds. Ever since then it's been eating me away, gnawing at my heels, this crazy obsession pulling me here! So thank you guys really! Also I can't forget @lilnibblit for being my partner in crime here! #pnw #pnwwonderland #pnwbc #pnwdiscovered #pnwexplored #pnwhiker #staypnw #stayandwander #explorebc #hellobc #exploreyukon #explorecanada #northerlights #auroraborealis #yukon #largerthenlife #wethriveoutdoors #thstpnwlife …………………………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………. Have you ever considered a career in the outdoor industry? make sure to check out @we.thrive.outdoors to see what its all about! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 🌲Make sure to also check out the #wethriveoutdoors ambassadors 🌲 @kayak_cole// @gorenkyle// @altitudeoverattitude // @slackoff.outdoors // @whistlercam // @searching_for_gem 🌲

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Take one part live music, one part history, and two parts pioneer spirit, and you’ve got Dawson City’s recipe for happiness. The Dawson City Music Festival may be over for the year, but you can still catch plenty of rockin’ performances. Bombay Peggy’s used to be a brothel, but these days people come to dance. From there, it’s a short stumble over to the “Arm Pit” at Westminster Tavern, with the best people-watching in town. In Dawson City, it takes a little bit of weird to be happy.

16. Lillooet, BC

Surrounded by rugged beauty, Lillooet is an adventurer’s paradise.

17. Nelson, BC

History, scenery, and lots of local beer combine to make Nelson happier than most.

18. Cap-Chat, QC

As you watch a sunset from a quaint café, you’ll see why Cap-Chat made the list.

19. Charlottetown, PEI

Charlottetown’s laid-back locals are known for their hospitality.

20. Belleville, ON

Perhaps it’s the picturesque Moira River that brings such good vibes to Belleville.

21. Little Current, ON

Take a stroll on Little Current’s charming waterfront and you’ll notice its residents are a happy bunch.

22. St. John’s, NL

With colourful houses and a delectable foodie scene, it’s not hard to be happy in St. John’s.

23. Gander, NL

It doesn’t get much greener than Gander—and nature is good for the soul.

24. Moosonee, ON

Moosonee is only accessible by train or plane—and that’s just how residents like it.

25. Parry Sound, ON

Paddle your kayak out to a secluded island for a taste of what makes Parry Island so happy.

26. Kelowna, BC

It could be wine, beaches, or mountain sunsets, but there’s something magical about Kelowna.

27. Victoria, BC

Victoria has it all—nightlife, nature, a bustling food and beer scene—and its residents know it.

28. Yellowknife, NT

If your happy place is cuddled up under a blanket by the fire, you belong in Yellowknife.

29. Chilliwack, BC

Family-friendly Chilliwack is the best of city and country, all rolled into one.

30. Pembroke, ON

In the “Heart of the Ottawa Valley,” local pride is big—but your ecotourism options are even bigger.

31. Nanaimo, BC

Nanaimo is the fourth Vancouver Island town on our list, so it’s safe to say this island is a pretty happy spot.

32. Deer Lake, NL

You’re sure to find total serenity on Deer Lake’s beautiful snowmobile trails.

33. Kenora, ON

With fishing, golfing, and cross-country skiing, Kenora is home to all of the most relaxing activities.

34. Fort McMurray, AB

Just try not to smile as you watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky in this secluded winter paradise.

35. New Liskeard, ON

Share in New Liskeard’s joyful atmosphere with a picnic at Pete’s Dam Park or a cross-country ski adventure.

36. Antigonish, NS

“Ceud Mìle Fàilte” (A Hundred Thousand Welcomes) is Antigonish’s motto, and you’ll feel the love in this Gaelic town.

37. Grande Prairie, AB

This is “Peace Country,” and its streams, prairies, and forests will show you the way to total relaxation.

38. Vancouver, BC

Vancouver—do we really need to say more?

39. Red Deer, AB

An active town is a happy town, and Red Deer’s lakes and trails definitely measure up.

40. Kingston, ON

Kingston is another town out to prove that the fresh air of Lake Ontario is good for the soul.

Our list may be diverse, but there are a few things Canada’s happiest cities have in common: friendly locals, beautiful scenery, and plenty of serene spots for a little reflection. Where can you find happiness? Now you know, so it’s time to go!

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About Author

Carolyn Albee

<p>Carolyn Albee is a lover of writing, dogs, and new cities—not necessarily in that order. When she’s not on a mission to find the best late-night snacks in those new cities, she’s off writing about why you should visit them, or doing some exploring of a different kind: Taking to the hills with her dog, Markus.</p>

2 Comments

  1. I recently moved to Kimberley BC after having lived in various places around the province. Including two on your list: I grew up in Sandspit and just lived in Nelson for 8 months. Kimberley is beautiful and although the people are a little nosy (small town after all) extremely friendly and happy! I love it here with the Rockies so near.

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