The Best Canadian Cities to Raise a Family

From access to daycare to cost of food, there are plenty of factors worth considering when choosing where to start a home for your growing family. We’ve ranked the family-friendliness of our provincial capitals and cities with a population of more than 80,000 to come up with our countdown of the best Canadian cities to raise a family.

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Raising a family in a Canadian city
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Ranking the 42 Best Cities in Canada to Raise a Family

Sources: Statistics Canada, the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, city workers, city websites, municipalities, All information is from 2006, except for infant-mortality rates, which are a three-year average taken from 2005 to 2007.

What makes one Canadian city better than another when it comes to raising a family? Often times, it’s the little things that count. We ranked 42 Canadian cities in each of the following 11 categories to judge their family appeal.

Transit: With kids in tow, parents need to get around with minimum hassle.

Median age: A young population is one measure of a kid-friendly city.

Infant mortality: The best benchmark for the overall health of a region.

Mat leave: An extra couple of weeks can make a difference to a new mom.

Daycare: Finding a daycare spot can be a pain, but some parents have it easier.

Cost of food: Getting healthy food into the mouths of babes is a parent priority.

Mom groups: The more clubs and support groups for moms, the more welcoming the area for kids.

Intimate-partner violence: High rates of domestic abuse have far-reaching societal consequences.

Child and youth victims of crime: How dangerous will the streets be for your kids?

Libraries: Libraries are a good place to connect with others; and the closer by, the better.

Park space: Playing and picnics mean quality time for families.

Next card: The best cities in Canada to raise a family. Where does your city rank?

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St John's, Newfoundland
Photo: Philip Mowbray / ShutterStock

Cities #42 – 37

42. St. John’s, N.L. (above)
Population: 165,346

41. Lethbridge, Alta.
Population: 83,679 

40. Whiterock, B.C.
Population: 82,368

39. Fredericton, N.B.
Population: 61,522

38. Kelowna, B.C. 
Population: 141,767

37. Saskatoon, Sask.
Population: 222,035

Find out why Saskatoon is Canada’s next great culinary destination.

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Aurora borealis over Whitehorse, Yukon
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Cities #36 – 31

36. Nanaimo, B.C.
Population: 88,799

35. Whitehorse, Y.T. (above)
Population: 20,562

34. Red Deer, Alta.
Population: 90,207

33. Sudbury, Ont.
Population: 106,840

32. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
Population: 83,053

31. Brantford, Ont.
Population: 93,650

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Legislative Assembly, Regina, Sask.
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Cities #30 – 26

30. Regina, Sask. (above)
Population: 192,756

29. St. Catharines – Niagara, Ont.
Population: 309,319

28. Saint John, N.B.
Population: 95,902

27. Chicoutimi – Jonquière, Que.
Population: 106,666

26. Thunder Bay, Ont.
Population: 102,222

Next, a newcomer to the Great White North reveals what he wishes he’d known before moving to Canada.

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Charlottetown, PEI
Photo: ShutterStock

Cities #25 – 21

25. Winnipeg, Man.
Population: 671,551 (Check out these unforgettable things to do in Winnipeg.)

24. Barrie, Ont.
Population: 166,634

23. Victoria, B.C.
Population: 316,327

22. Yellowknife, N.W.T.
Population: 18,352

21. Charlottetown, P.E.I. (above)
Population: 42,602

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Vieux Quebec, Quebec City
Photo: jiawangkun/ShutterStock

Cities #20 – 16

20. Edmonton, Alta.
Population: 960,015

19. Abbotsford, B.C.
Population: 149,855

18. Québec, Que. (above)
Population: 696,946

17. London, Ont.
Population: 366,191 (Would you believe London is also the pet-pampering capital of Canada?)

16. Trois-Rivières, Que.
Population: 126,460

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Public park, Halifax, N.S.
Photo: ShutterStock

Cities #15 – 11

15. Oshawa, Ont.
Population: 290,937

14. Halifax, N.S. (above)
Population: 297,943

13. Kingston, Ont.
Population: 117,787

12. Moncton, N.B.
Population: 107,086

11. Kitchener, Ont.
Population: 444,681

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Cute house in Vancouver, BC
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Cities #10 – 6 

10. Peterborough, Ont.
Population: 80,660

9. Hamilton, Ont.
Population: 670,580

 8. Toronto, Ont. 
Population: 5,132,794 

7. Vancouver, B.C. (above)
Population: 2,135,201

6. Montréal, Que.
Population: 3,407,963 

Don’t miss our countdown of the top 10 must-see Montreal attractions.

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Windsor, Ont.
Photo: James R. Martin

5. Windsor, Ont.

Population: 276,165

Median Age: 40

Why it’s great for families: Low cost of food, solid number of mom social groups, and among the lowest infant mortality rates in the country.

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Calgary, Alberta
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4. Calgary 

Population: 1,095,404

Median Age: 36

Why it’s great for families: Great access to park spaces and public transit, low violent crime rates, and one the youngest median ages in the country. Check out more amazing things to do in Calgary.

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Covered bridge in Guelph, Ontario
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3. Guelph, Ont.

Population: 122,362

Median Age: 38

Why it’s great for families: Numerous mom groups, easy access to public transit, and among the lowest food costs in the country.

Psst—this is the province with the longest walk-in clinic wait times in Canada.

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Ottawa, Ontario
Photo: ShutterStock

2. Ottawa-Gatineau, Ont./Que.

Population: 933,596  

Median age: 39

Why it’s great for families: Easy access to libraries, the lowest violent crime rate in the country, and great public transit, with a fifth of the population taking buses to work. You can also enjoy these great day trips from Ottawa.

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Town Hall in Sherbrooke, Quebec
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1. Sherbrooke, Que. – The Best City in Canada to Raise a Family

Population: 140,628

 Median Age: 40

Why it’s great for families: Some of the lowest rates of child and partner crime in the country, great access to mom groups and daycares, and Quebec’s generous 18-week maternity leave policy.

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