Canada is the sixth-largest country on the planet but has only the 38th-largest population. This means that there is a lot of great wilderness to explore – along with some wonderful small towns to see on the way. Here are four charming small towns in Canada that you should check out the next time you visit America’s northern neighbor.

Dawson City, Yukon

Aerial view of river and hills in Dawson City, Canada
Credit: akramer /

Hidden deep in the Canadian north, on the banks of the Yukon River, is Dawson City. This town is home to 1,300 inhabitants, which makes it the second-largest city in the Yukon Territory.

Dawson City first became significant as a gold mining town. The Klondike Gold Rush began just before the turn of the 20th century and drew thousands of prospectors to the area. At its height, Dawson City had nearly 40,000 inhabitants. However, one year later, that number dropped to 32,000, and by 1902 only 5,000 people still called Dawson City home.

Despite its brief time in the spotlight, Dawson City still captured many famous authors’ imaginations, including Jack London, who included the city in “The Call of the Wild.”  Today you can visit the Dawson Museum to get an idea of what prospectors’ lives were like, try to pan for gold yourself, or visit Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Casino, the first legal gambling hall in Canada.

St. Andrews, New Brunswick

City of St. Andrews, Canada, on the ocean
Credit: Abi Warner /

Also known as St. Andrews By The Sea, this small town sits on the Atlantic Ocean and allows visitors a chance to explore the British side of Canada’s history. The town was founded by British Loyalists who fled the United States during the American Revolution in 1783 and still bears evidence of that legacy, such as the 13 main streets, all of which bear the names of British royalty.

Around town you can see authentic shingle-style buildings, such as the Algonquin Hotel, alongside Cape Cod-style homes and Georgian manors. A visit to the Ross Museum will give you a chance to see what the interior of a home would have looked like in the late 1700s.

The town’s oceanfront location makes it a desirable destination as well. While the Canadian Atlantic waters may never reach a Caribbean temperature, Katy’s Bay boasts the warmest saltwater swimming to be found in the country.


Charming mountain village in Banff, Canada
Credit: Aqnus Febriyant /

This small town is best known as the entry point to Canada’s Banff National Park, home to some of the most impressive peaks found in North America. Banff also has a fascinating history to explore and features some excellent attractions and accommodations.

The town first came to prominence when natural hot springs were discovered in 1883. It became a resort and spa location until the original hot springs, known as the Cave and Basin Hot Springs, were closed. However, a new hot spring, the Banff Upper Hot Springs, is still accessible today, and you can stay the night at Banff Springs Hotel, a luxurious railway hotel.


Old-fashioned buildings in Niagara on the Lake, Canada
Credit: Gilberto Mesquita /

While Niagara-On-The-Lake is the largest city on this list, it has more than enough small-town charm to make up for it. One of the big draws is nearby Niagara Falls, but the town is also home to many beautiful colonial style buildings and wineries, and it hosts a nonprofit theatre festival every year, the Shaw Festival.

Additionally, Niagara-On-The-Lake was home to many important military locations. These include Fort George, which was the site of many important battles during the War of 1812, the Butlers Barracks, and the reconstructed Fort Mississauga.

If you want to experience the grandeur of untouched countryside, forestland and taiga and still end your night in a cozy bed, a trip to any one of these Canadian towns should be on your list.