Your Top 10 Worst Cities to Immigrate to in Canada

Table of Contents

We conducted an internet poll, that most scientific of data collection methods. The poll included the 8 cities in our original list and 12 major cities throughout Canada. Through slightly more than 24 hours, here’s how our users ranked the top 10:

About a year ago we posted an article about cities in Canada immigrants might not want to immigrate to. Last weekend facebook found it, and it was not received so well. Probably because of the use of ‘worst’ in the title. So we decided to ask you. We conducted an internet poll, that most scientific of data collection methods. The poll included the 8 cities in our original list and 12 major cities throughout Canada. Through slightly more than 24 hours, here’s how our users ranked the top 10:

7. Tie: Montreal, Thetford Mines, Sarnia and Vancouver – 5%

Thetford Mines and Sarnia both found themselves on our list of a year ago due to their reputations for being extremely polluted. There was considerable debate in the comments section about whether or not Sarnia remains polluted. In 2013 a Canadian magazine ran a story claiming that Sarnia was the most polluted city in Canada.

FactJunkie writes:
“Sarnia has impressive social services available and is a common through-destination for people traveling to the States. Heck, the similar city of Windsor, Ontario has higher unemployment and is right across from Detroit… it has higher suicide rates, too. And it’s only 2 hours away from Sarnia. Another great pick.”

M Egan S Horttie writes:
“Sorry Ana if you lived in Sarnia, you would see that there is some truth to this article lol. If you are not working in either the Chemical Valley part of Sarnia or Blue water health, expect an entry level low paying job here.”

Corduroy-Pillows writes:
“Over last couple years, Downtown Sarnia has enjoyed and very encouraging amount of revitalization. New residential spaces converted from older buildings and homegrown businesses moving into the empty store fronts. There’s First Fridays events, a few decent festivals, art galleries, music venues, pubs, restaurants, green space and a new craft brewery opening up downtown. Sarnia is doing fine.”

M Egan S Horttie counters:
“Really where? because I sure as hell didn’t see much of any thing, and I was there 2 days ago Where was I going ? Work place Group Employment! because I trained for 6 weeks, for a different trade out side of London (Yet another opportunity not available in this dump) ! .OH WOW more pubs ,and restaurants? That oughta boost our horrible employment rate, best look for another job on the side.. (If you can even f*cking find one) Let’s not forget our lovely waterfront Centennial Park, full of Asbestos :D. As a kid ya this city was great, Canatara Park was awesome, the Howard Watson Natural trail is great the Beach, is great.I loved the Animal Farm. But as far as employment goes, that’s far from being revitalized, not everyone wants to be a Chemical Engineer, or a goddamn nurse. Or sharpen pencils all day in an office.Those are pretty much your only options here. Oh and such a shame about Montanas, AGAIN. You like many other Sarnians may already be retired, not young and looking to find their way. Sarnia is showing it’s age, and it’s not looking good so far. It’s old,and tired like the many people who live here anyway. The only big success was Bayfest. But even that seems to have been taken away from us. Oh yes, and apparently blinkers are optional on cars in this city.”

LP adds:
“Very true, Sarnia’s downtown is making a come back. Also, our view of the heavy industry keeps many of us employed. I do prefer the view we have of the lake, river, multitude of parks and many walking trails though. If you haven’t been to Sarnia you don’t know what you’re missing.”

“Guest” fights back:
“I grew up in Sarnia and moved away due to NO FUTURE there. Oh how exciting art galleries, music venues etc etc as you posted. Even Airdrie Alberta has that. It is an old folks town or people can not accept change,, get out while you can”

Corduroy-Pillows replies:
“To address the comments above, I am a 32 year old who has been fortunate enough to travel all of Canada and a very large portion of the US and some of Europe. A lot for business and then stick around for weekends to see what cities have to offer.
Sarnia’s downtown is building culture. The skilled labour work in the plants and all the related building, safety industries pays very well as does the shipping repair/machining industry.
Hey @M Egan S Horttie – The art galleries, restaurants and pubs don’t create many jobs but they’re better than the Montana’s you complained about. Also, if you’re all about creating jobs then why don’t you start a small business. Get off your lazy ass and make something happen. Is it someone else’s duty to create a job for you?
I’m not saying Sarnia is the best city in Canada, but referring to downtown as “junkies alley” just isn true anymore. Every city has shitty areas and Sarnia’s is starting to turn around.
If you live in Sarnia and hate it so much THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. You lazy fucks that sit back and complain but do nothing to make positive change are welcome to fuck off to some other city and complain about it’s downfalls.
I’m preparing to move back to the area part time to open a manufacturing facility there and people like @disqus_0ss2vnurrz who are waiting for someone else to create A FUTURE for them are they lazy B type personalities I hope I can weed out when hiring.”

craig rebuts:
“Not true, businesses are closing down. Few companies in the plant were currently laying people off(lanxess for example). Aside first Fridays, downtown sarnia is dead. Junkies alley.”

And “Guest” chimes in again:
“I was just back in Sarnia, Bright’s Grove is where I grew up and it is 100% better than Sarnia. You are delusional”

AJ writes:
“Are you kidding me? Sarnia?
Sure, the air quality might be one of the top worst 15 cities in Ontario, and sure, there is a view of the industrialized regions to the south if you start to get towards the outskirts of town. However, the city itself isn’t polluted.
The reference is some guy’s tumblr ? Hardly a reliable source.
Granted, Sarnia isn’t the greatest place to live, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say WORST IN CANADA.
It’s actually really nice just to be able to hop across the boarder to do some shopping or to buy gas. Sarnia is also home to the internationally famous Bayfest, a concert which hosts many very famous bands each summer.,br> There’s no way Sarnia is the #5 worst place to live in Canada.

“Guest” keeps at it:
Sarnia is number 5 in CANADA and it sucks, As you are aware and I am sure you live in Bright’s Grove, IS THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE(A TRUE GROVITE) none of these wanna be Sarnia n’s moving outo the Grove. Be a true Grovite and Canadian keep your money in the grove.”

Dane writes:
“I find it strange that Sarnia made the list for being polluted, empty and shrinking, yet Windsor and Sudbury didn’t make the list. Sarnia is a lovely place to live, I used to live there. I live in Peterborough now, and it is dangerous and dirty (I still love Peterborough) The city of Sarnia itself is clean and VERY safe. Sarnia’s Water is waaaay cleaner than Toronto’s and the cost of living is pretty great compared to the job opportunities.”

concernedcitizen writes:
“When it comes to Sarnia, that heavy industry is canadian not american and employes thousands of local residents. Furthermore all the pollution drifts south to Detroit. Sarnia Bluewater has some of the cleanest water on earth and no smog or air pollution to really speak of. If you are going to bash communities GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!”

jese yells:

But jeff says:
“the weekly siren is actually a test.. just shows how ignorant you are. haha.
agree downtown is a shithole, but that’s not all there is to Sarnia.”

“Guest” is back again with:
“JEFF:You should ask the residents south of the plants, they actually have to call the plants to advise them of the air quality most of the time and if you want I can find the article, that’s if you can read It is amazing that Sarnia only has wind from the north as concernedcitizen states”

Steve Loxton writes:
“This is how credible this article is as far as Sarnia is concerned; it has a line that mentions views of U.S. heavy industry as a negative. This text hyperlinks to an anonymous Tumblr account showing various “Sarnia problems” (and a very lame and arbitrary list it is…) superimposed over a view of Sarnia’s own Chemical Valley! The writer has assumed this is the U.S. he was looking at. It’s not “U.S. heavy industry” you dope writer! It’s Canadian heavy industry you’re looking at! It’s the U.S. who have to look at our heavy industry! Perfect example of a “freelance writer” (no nothing blogger, more like), throwing any random shit together to sell an article. Complete waste of time!”

bringbackbayfest replies:
“sarnia does suck though… just saying. nothing to do in the city. #bornandraisedinsarnia”

Sic O’Hater counters:
“ANY city is what YOU make of it. I live in Sarnia and LOVE what it has to offer. At 40 years of age, 3 kids, Sarnia has some great water areas to hang out if you look, has great schools where my kids dont have to worry about guns, I can be home from work in 10 minutes from just about anywhere, and I can shop here or in the usa for just about anything larger cities have. There are some great people here in Sarnia who will help out our city in seconds if needed and again, if you’re bored in Sarnia, its your own fault.”

“Formersarnian chimes in:
“I was born and raised in Sarnia. We go back often to visit. It doesn’t offer a lot of entertainment or activities. You really do need to make your own fun. The shopping is also majorly lacking. I have tremendous concerns about family members there and the amount of people I know there that have or have gone through cancer.
Sorry, that was not to be directed at you.”

Montreal Visible Minorities

I was under the impression that most Canadians who do not live in Montreal love Montreal, but I stand corrected. The obvious drawback for immigrants to Canada for many Quebec cities is that you are better off knowing both French and English in addition to your native language, and not everyone speaks three languages.


Montreal Foreign Born Population

Montreal is known for its never-ending road construction, it’s insanely snowy winters and the horrible traffic. (Before you doubt me, I have personal experience of this: I have spent literally hours on the Pont Champlain, more than once.)


Vancouver has a reputation of being the Toronto of the west coast; it’s very multicultural but insanely expensive and everyone who doesn’t live there hates people from there, especially the hockey fans.

Visible Minorities Vancouver

Like Montreal, Vancouver is known for its terrible traffic jams. (Again, I have spent ours on Lion’s Gate Bridge.)

Vancouver Foreign Born


5. Tie: Bay Roberts and Nanaimo – 6%


Both places feature on our initial list, though the two places couldn’t be more different – or farther from each other.

Bay Roberts is about 1/16th the size of Nanaimo, and they rely on the nearby Trinity Bay for work in the fishing and oil industries. I’ve never been there myself so what do I know.

Juan writes:
“Seriously Bay Roberts?
yes, I live here. New houses are getting built, more stores are coming, jobs are just 1 hour drive. I know We have a lot of seasonal workers.”

Nanaimo is a forestry and government town, evidently. I think it likely beats Bay Roberts in the weather department. Does that make Nanaimo #6 and Bay Roberts #5?

Kay Lannan writes:
“I live in Nanaimo. I have no idea where the author got their information from. ‘Saggng population’ ??? Our population has had steady growth over the last 7 years expanding our city for the better. And I dont believe you can compare mining Nanaimo of 70years ago to present day Nanaimo. Nanaimo was voted the Culturaln Capital of Canada in 2008. It is a beautiful city to live in if you are an outdoor type of person or love to be by the water. Its true that our employment rate is not good so immigrants yes this is not a good place to settle but that hasn’t stopped many immigrants from settling here. Nanaimo is a life style. And by all means we are big enough I didn’t want to live in a big city.”

Larke Newell agrees:
“Kay, you are absolutely right on all counts. Isolated?????What???? Nanaimo is a beautiful city-big enough to have everything you could possibly need but not huge. It has beautiful lakes right inside the city plus a beautiful harbourfront walk. Beautiful scenery, and gorgeous, unique islands a very short boat ride from the city. I’d take it over most cities in Canada any day.”

Paluine says:
“Haha, this is hilarious. So basically I can’t move out east because that’s where 9 of the 10 are, and for the other? Yeah, I live here right now. I’m a city girl so Nanaimo is really just a rest point until I finish University, but I must say, it is stunning here and really not as bad as everyone thinks…. My take on the city, after living in it for 3 1/2 years, is that it has to stop expanding. There are a lot of structures that remain empty while the city expands. Downtown has a ton of potential and although I won’t be living here in 20 years, I have hopes that it’ll all come together.

Ella writes:
“Having lived in both Nanaimo and Vancouver … I would much rather live in Nanaimo. I won’t pretend it’s the best place in Canada, but it certainly doesn’t belong on this list.”

Sash Angus says:

“Good afternoon Immigroup, while I appreciate that lists like these are the fast food of the information age, you should really take the time to do your homework. I can’t speak for the other communities, but Nanaimo has amongst the lowest unemployment rates in the country, amongst the highest rate of knowledge based business formations in BC, has the best workforce housing rates in the province and has an average commuting time that is measured in minutes not hours. While I appreciate this blogger was not “your staff”, you should really take responsibility for what you put out into the world. If you do want to take the time and would like to read something on your commute, I would encourage you click on the following link and find out why Nanaimo is the place of infinite possibilities.

P.S. The golfing in February is also quite nice… 🙂

Chris Boar writes:
“I emigrated to Nanaimo 9 years ago. Love it. The most temperate climate in Canada, affordable housing unlike Victoria/Vancouver and essentially no traffic. Umpteen parks/lakes/rivers, fantastic harbour. Nice and central to the island. Set up my own business which is successful. Only bit that sucks is the cost to get on/off the island. But apart from that I’m pretty happy to live on an island that is a huge vacation destination in the summer.

robert saint amour says:
“this has to be the stupidest assembly of ignorance ever…
nanaimo is a gorgeous city on the sea, a perfect place to sit back and laugh at the mental midgets that wrote this…”

Tabs objects:
“Wow, this article is overtly biased and lacking in facts. Nanaimo-“Sagging population”, tell that to the recent stats and new housing projects that are popping up all over this city like a teenager’s bad acne.
“Isolation”, well if that means having the option of living on acreage surrounded by pristine landscapes and views and only having to drive 15 minutes to be anywhere for shopping or groceries or the beach then I’ll take isolation over smog and 3 hour traffic jams any day. Plus there are two ferries to the Mainland, with a passenger ferry to downtown Vancouver with a commute less than 45 minutes in the works.
“Dour quality of life brought about by a legacy of coal mining” yes our history is based on coal mining, however, that is our HISTORY.
Sure we may not have the greatest of nightlife but our outdoor life is second to none, and being on the Island you have the opportunity to run on the beach in the morning, surf in the afternoon, and do snowboarding in the evening in the winter!

Frazer writes:
“Interested to know the criteria used in these selections. For example, the reasons given for Nanaimo’s inclusion are a sagging population, being a mill town, and isolation. Whereas if you look at somewhere like Prince George the population has actually declined (unlike Nanaimo’s which has continued to grow), the economy is even more resource based, and the isolation factor is significantly more pronounced (9 to 10 hour drive to Edmonton/Calgary/Vancouver).
I am not trying to bash Prince George either… just curious what criteria were used to pick these cities.”

Serena says:
“Nanaimo is sooo underwhelming compared to Victoria…..although I don’t see why any BC town should take a spot on this list when somehow Manitoba and Saskatchewan didn’t make it on

bcec85 responds:
“Can’t speak for Manitoba but Saskatchewan had the highest annual growth rate in Canada last year and highest in north America so far in the first quarter in 2014 at 20% increase. Our government runs a surplus budget and our provincial natural resources are helping to keep our weakening Canadian Dollar a float. Not much beauty anywhere if you’re not looking for it. ….. besides SK people are humble, but we don’t expect anyone from BC to notice – I can’t see anything very well when I stick my nose up to the sky either #arroganceisignorance

Jesse says:
“Glad you have Nanaimo on this list. I’d prefer that it’s a well kept secret.

thedirtynigerian writes:
“Nanaimo is fuckin awesome.. Vancouver is the shit hole.”

Swile concludes:
“I’m from NS now living in Calgary. I’ve been to Nanaimo and at least two or three of these other places in my 40 yrs of life. Not sure that I would have nominated all of these places as the worst in Canada. But I would definitely have Tumbler Ridge, BC on my listing.

4. Kitchener-Waterloo – 7%

Kitchener-Waterloo featured on our original list because it was once not a very nice place for immigrants to live. Defenders of the city pointed out how out of date that idea was – five years old! – and many also noted that Kitchener and Waterloo are two different places; it seemed that some commenters from Kitchener blamed the reputation on those in Waterloo and vice versa. This feels a little like splitting hairs, since the downtowns are slightly less than 6 km apart.

J writes:
“Kitchener is a fantastic place for people to immigrate to. There are many, many social services for people new to Canada. There is a large Service Canada location on Weber Street, on a bus route. KW Counselling offers families a lot of help. In future, before you compile bogus lists, consider simply visiting the City’s website. If you had visited the City of Kitchener’s website, you would see there are whole sections on immigration, multiculturalism and where to get assistance for programs.”

Marianne yells:

Adam Frank chastises:
“Hate Crime Capital of Canda – From a stat from five years ago… What a Joke
Kitchener Waterloo has one of the longest standing multicultural festivals in the world, with over 50,000 attendees.
Shame on you for writing this dilapidated article.”

Russell Felicisima Espiritu writes:
“I live in Waterloo (not Kitchener) and a person from the Philippines and this article is crap! Have you even been here? Please don’t write about things you don’t know about…

ciph3ro says:
“Kitchener is actually pretty awesome. I’ve met some of the nicest people and life was generally high quality and happy.
I’ve since moved to Northern Alberta and material quality of life has gone up due to much more income but overall happiness and social fulfillment has not. It’s also much more multicultural in Ontario than here; could be where the claims come from. Also much more modern technology and thinking overall I’ve found as I am of very high tech thinking of background.
Classic example of money can’t buy happiness, but a necessary evil to build a solid financial foundation and professional experience. Then I’m out of here to somewhere nicer, probably Ontario again.
I would also like to add that AB has abysmal social services compared to ON where everything is organized and not privatized and consolidated. Also LCBO and The Beer Store are sorely sorely missed here.
The food and drinks selection is pretty bad compared to Ontario. That all contributed to my KPI for somewhere to live.”

FactJunkie adds:
“As for Kitchener, your only argument is because of discrimination (and then has a photo of a road under construction??). I don’t really know how they measure hate crime there and places like Calgary, but I know both places are very diverse with a lot of different cultures. Kitchener is a relatively clean place with loads of amenities. If anything, I would argue it’s far too expensive due to it’s proximity to Toronto for something that is offered at other nearby cities like London for far cheaper. To me, Kitchener, aside from cost, is a wonderful place to visit. But maybe it’s because I’m a straight white guy that people are nice to me. And I don’t visit enough to know for sure.

Chris writes:
“This article is poorly written. It should also be mentioned that Kitchener and Waterloo are vastly different from one another.”

Jorge replies:
“Yes. Kitchener is a nice place for families to live. Waterloo is mostly a student ghetto, unless you’re talking the rapidly failing RIM/tech area.”

Herbert Ricktenstein says:
“They are using figures from over 5 years ago to associate with Kitchener-Waterloo for hate crimes. Maybe you should try using more current data. Is that all you are looking at to rank us at #2? What about the 100’s of positive things this region does? Your entire article is bogus and the author should be sued.”

regis writes:
“Jokes I’m from good old Kitchener, And I agree with this, lol not sure of how it’s now but during highschool you saw this all the time, Asians vs Latinos vs blacks vs Serbian European groups, seen a few gay kids get harassed and jumped. so much crap went down at the bus station downtown. Good times, glad I moved tho, represent 519 all day, Chandler drive son, how I miss country boy breakfast”

Emily replies:
“That time someone got knifed at Cameron Heights and I felt bad for the IB kids.”

Dale claims:
“I live in Waterloo and trust me, much of the bullcrap happens in Kitchener NOT waterloo”

Acitta comes back with:
“Those people in Waterloo are so uppity. Kitchener should annex them!”

Jorge replies:
“I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. Longtime Kitchener resident here. Kitchener is mostly diverse families, Waterloo is students and transients who live a low quality of life, unless they work for/near RIM.

Rich points out the obvious:
“Top 8? Couldn’t round it to ten, at least? Any half-assed buzzfeed-like “top” list that tries to masquerade as a legitimate article is doomed from the second you type the title. “Congratulations, Kitchener-Waterloo!” — Someone forgot to sign out of their tumblr before they wrote that garbage.

Leigh-Ann says:
“This is all bs in my opinion. I moved from the 1st worst to the 2nd worse, and let me tell you, neither are that bad. As for racism in Kitchener/Waterloo, that’s crap. This is the most ethnic city I’ve ever seen, more different races than I have ever seen and after living here more than a year, I see nothing but respect between the different nationalities here, no racism at all. try to get it right before publishing. KW is the most diverse city in canada, not the most racist!!! Idiots!!!”

Gabriel counters:
“Jorge, your comment is almost as biased and uninformed as the article we’re commenting on. Almost…”


2. Tie: London and Thunder Bay – 9%


Thunder Bay came in 8th in our original list, which did not go over very well. Defenders of the city pointed out various strengths of the city, but my personal favourite is the proximity of this:

Perhaps the nicest provincial park in all of Ontario is about an hour away. Reason enough to move there?

Mike writes:
“Soooo…you’re only reasons for Thunder Bay being bad to live in is that it is cold (uh, we live in Canada….) and that it is 8-10 hours from Toronto? (most people can’t get far enough away from Toronto and it’s crack smoking mayor.)
One would think that in making a list like this, you might have found something REAL to complain about. How about Toronto itself…lets see, immigrants will have to pay 1000% more for any form of housing that is within any sort of reasonable distance to their work, pay is no better than anywhere else, air quality causes you to suffer from more health problems than just about any other location in north america (there are smog warnings nearly every other day) and trying to get anywhere is a nightmare. You know how many of those problems we have in Thunder Bay? None. Keep poking holes in other places and ignoring you’re own region, Chuckles….Good luck with that. We don’t really want you up here anyway.”

beecnic says:
“I have lived in Thunder Bay most of my life, and I was unhappy with the arguements you provided for this city. I have to admit, I agree there are a lot of reasons for immigrants to not move here, but what you listed is certainly not one of those reasons! It is a major centre (has all the shopping needs etc), and also has the beauty of the great outdoors! Only people born and raised in the GTA would consider our “seclusion” a bad thing – to me it is a blessing. Plus, Toronto is only a two hour plane ride away for when we want to head to the “big city”. Your reasons for Thunder Bay being on this list should have looked at other reasons why Thunder Bay is bad, not just because we aren’t apart of the GTA. Ridiculous! We are also no colder than our western friends in Alberta or Saskatchewan, but I see none of them made the list for these reasons!”

Joel writes:
“Having lived in Thunder Bay for 22 years of my life and now 12 years outside of it, (7 of which have been in the Greater Toronto Area), I find this article a little suspect, but get some of their arguments. On an aside, who calls Lake Superior “Gitchee Gumee”? Is that a new thing since I’ve been gone? Who are the “they”?
I work in a GTA suburb and live in the same suburb. I drive 7 to 10 minutes to work. This obviously isn’t the case for many people in the GTA. The incomes are much higher here, but so are the mortgages. There are more opportunities here for jobs and schooling and so on. It’s also warmer here. A majority of my french immersion class from Thunder Bay left Thunder Bay. Pollution isn’t bad where I live, but it is obviously worse downtown or places where there is more industry.
That all said, I miss Thunder Bay. I miss the pace of life. I miss climbing the knees of the giant, mountain biking around trow bridge falls and the cascades, eating ice cream at Merla Mae and Redwood Park Church. I don’t know how you can rank cities and say “these are the worst”. The scale seems somewhat subjective. Both the GTA and Thunder Bay seem to me like a great adventure.”

northern_ontario_girl_17 says:
“Clearly this was written by people who do not care for fresh air, easy access to nature and LOVE their GTA! I have been to many places in Canada and they all have their pros and cons. What I can’t understand is why whoever wrote this article feels that being somewhere with a low population or is somewhat isolated means it’s bad to live there. It all depends on what you want out of your community. Plus, I am tired of people from GTA area automatically listing Thunder Bay as a bad place to live, stop hating on it because it’s in the north, why don’t you live your precious GTA, get some fresh air, and see what the rest of Canada really is about. Thanks.”

RJC states:
“Its no surprise a bunch of aholes from Toronto would $hit on the rest of the country.
Name the ones you’ve actually visited and researched short of googling quickly and rehashed some generalized facts? And why don’t you list some facts like the Prov/Feds doing nothing to support the forestry industry as reasons why places like Thunder Bay are trying to transition their economies? And I guess if distance to another city is the huge determining factor of quality of life then shouldn’t Regina be in your list as its 7-8 hours either direction to Winnipeg/Calgary. How about you you actually present some logical fair presentation of facts that took you more than 60 seconds to google to support your extensive research in writing this trash article to basically garner your group some sensationalistic press? You, your group & this article are a joke.”

sudburyyahoo writes:
“Holy cow, Thunder Bay was founded by immigrants!
There’s a whole bunch of newcomer professionals who have moved there to be part of the new hospital, medical research institute, medical school, the post-secondary institutes and the mining industry. This is truly crap-tac-cular.”

Outdoorsy says:
“The horrific isolation of Thunder Bay? I hardly think so. It has all the amenities of a large city, nestled in beautiful scenery. Fifteen minutes from the city and you can escape the hectic life and trade it up for REAL camping adventures. The drive to the nearest city – most people in Thunder Bay aren’t interested in MORE city – but rather less. Speaking of driving…living in cities like TO, Winnipeg, Edmonton etc – what is the commute to and from work each day – 1 hour? 2 hours? EACH DAY? What’s the commute to the great outdoors? 4hours to the cottage? Please…this was written by someone that has Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Akaash adds:
“Wow, probably better than the place these immigrants are coming from, I think my mom would have regretted everyday of her life if she had left Mumbai to move to Thunder Bay Ontario…”

c marcino regrets:
“i feel sorry for the person or people that put these lists together they show you that they really have never spent alot of time in any of these places. thunder bay has as close to a wounder of the world, as the falls just a short drive from thunderbay [15 min] outside of the city is breath taking. the lands around thunderbay hold the beauty and charm of the alps, france ect.”

Raymond Hietapakka claims:
“The only truly great things about Thunder Bay are outside the City Limits.”

Joe responds:
“I agree that it is an outdoor enthusiasts dream up there but Thunder Bay is also a great service center itself. You get that small town feel, close to the wilderness without losing all the big city amenities. You want big box stores and multi floor malls – Thunder Bay has it – you want a World Class Entertainment Facility – look no further then the Auditorium – you want nice restaurants and popular restaurant chains – Thunder Bay pretty much has them all – you want local beer and foods – Thunder Bay has that too – you want to go Golfing, play in citywide sports leagues – Thunder Bay has it – you want to go to University or College, including Med School/Law School and Aviation – Thunder Bay offers that too. With the Event Centre about to be built, Thunder Bay will soon have a professional hockey team as well and an additional world class facility to bring in conventions, concerts and even larger events. From my point of view, there’s lots Thunder Bay has to offer both within and outside city limits.”

jake replies:
“I agree….Thunder Bay is an awesome city to live in, great shopping, lots of places to eat , if love the outdoors, you’re close to nature trails and camping, fishing. Not to sure about the multi-floor malls though. Oh yeah, they have an awesome Blues festival there in the summer”


Jaz questions the existence of certain types of malls:
“multi-floor malls……where are these multi-floor malls you speak of?”

Joe comes back with:
“Intercity is two floors — the Sears in there is multi levelled and there are dental offices and business on the second floor of the mall. Victoriaville also features a second level – used to have Science North up there and then I believe it was turned into a gym upstairs. A bit of a stretch perhaps but the point is that the shopping in Thunder Bay is not half bad and I don’t get the point they are making about having to drive 10 hours to another major city when everything you need is essentially found in Thunder Bay.”

clint claims:
“thunder bay rank number 1 murder capital of Canada, thunder bay ranked 1 most violent city in Ontario, thunder bay ranked number 1 sexual transmitted diseases in Canada. top 10 annually for crime in Canada even the mayor of thunder bay said thunder bay has more crime than dallas texas. Ranking is bang on!”

Kathleen disputes that claim:
“Now, now. We’ve had the honour of murder capital in the past but it’s not a given. Some years when Thunder Bay’s murder rate has been high, not a single murder has been random. Meaning, all of the murder victims knew their murderer. It’s still a terrible problem, but there’s no need for most people to fear random violence.
Crime rates are not reported or calculated the same way across municipalities or countries, so it is somewhat difficult to make a fair comparison. I would not move to Thunder Bay to open a Mac’s Mart, but I walk around every day feeling safe. There is a clear relationship between social issues like poverty and substance use and the types of crimes that are most common. These issues are serious, but they are not unique to Thunder Bay.”

Paul also disputes what clint had to say:
“Holy that was a post full of libel. Check your own stats man. Thunder Bay does have a higher than average crime rate but in no statistic do they rank #1. Winnipeg is the murder capital of Canada in the latest statistics.

Joe writes:
“I’m not really sure how Thunder Bay cracks a list that is apparently chosen from cities that have high unemployment, high cost of living, bad weather etc. Last I checked the unemployment rate in Thunder Bay was below the national and provincial average. The cost of living is also far lower than the national average. With the expected economic boom from the Ring of Fire, Thunder Bay boasted one of the best economies in 2013 for major Canadian cities and this trend is expected to continue. As for the weather? Sure almost every city in North America had a crazy cold winter this year but on average Thunder Bay’s winters aren’t half bad, protected by mountains and Lake Superior. It’s also one of the sunniest cities in Canada, and summer temperatures average out to a comfortable +25 C. For an outdoors enthusiast, the city is second to none, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery nature has to offer (water falls, canyons, mountain range, crystal clear lakes and rivers etc.) Every city suffers from run down areas and Thunder Bay is no exception but it is pretty easy to find some bustling and growing areas in the city as well. The waterfront district has been completely rivatlized with a new Marina, many local pubs and restaurants, and in a couple years will be boasting a brand name Event Centre that will be home to the Winnipeg Jets AHL farm club. To any immigrants looking to move somewhere surrounded by nature with all the amenities of a big city, Thunder Bay makes for an excellent destination! It’s a shame that something so misinforming could be published on this site.”

clint also says:
“I was talking to a couple from Minneapolis and asked them what they thought of thunder bay and they summed it up best by calling thunder bay a third world city”

jay hernwacke counters:
“well other for the milder weather I wouldn’t move to the Twin Cities from Thunder Bay and I’ve been there a few times.”

Kathleen again takes issue with what clint has to say:
“It’s a shame the many, many Somalian residents of Minneapolis have not helped this couple develop a more positive view of the “third world”. Their own city is so shaped by it.”

clint’s original comment:
“thunder bay has really been on the downslide ever since keith hobbs became mayor ranking very poorly in other publications also. Walk around the city it is dirty filthy and full of litter.”

Becky Kokai Flook says:
“True, Thunder Bay is actually a fairly big place and it’s beautiful.”

john disputes that:
“Kenora is actually more scenic and way easier to get to great fishing,the fireworks venue has to be one of the besti have seen More scenic with spectacular sunsets,
Thunder bay is not even close.

CityGirl says:
“If your research for the other 7 cities is the same as for Thunder Bay, I would put this blog in the category of “useless and erroneous information”. Example: driving 10 hours from Thunder Bay means you have overshot several cities and are now in the middle of nowhere – possibly close to Toronto or maybe near the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border. A reminder for you … if you want to find the bad in anything it doesn’t take much effort. But with even less effort you can find even more good aspects and spread a little positive energy at the same time.”

NWO replies:
“HA! No. Thunder Bay to Toronto is a little over a 16 hour drive. The Manitoba/Saskatchewan border is about 13 hours to the west. The closest city within Canada to Thunder Bay is Winnipeg. It’s nearly 9 hours away, with literally NO cities being “overshot” in between. Unless you are counting Kenora and Dryden as cities, which most wouldn’t.”

TBay1 disputes that:
“Suggest you REALLY look at a map – Thunder Bay to Winnipeg is about 370 miles. If it takes you 9 hours to drive that distance then I’m glad I don’t travel with you. 7 1/2 hours tops!”

CityGirl comes back:
“Ummm … I drive to Winnipeg several times a year … and it has NEVER taken me 9 hours!!! 10 hours east of here and you’re just about to turn onto the 401 “close” to Toronto. Thunder Bay to Winnipeg+ 7.5 + Winnipeg to Virdin MB 3.5 = 11 hours. Saskatchwan is 30 minutes from that. My suggestion … look at a map .. or even better, take a road trip!”

Collin Johnson says:
“Thunder Bay – “…With a large, marginalized underclass of native Canadians..”
umm ya.. It’s Northern Ontario. What the F do you expect? We have a rapidly growing population and one of the best Universities in the world. Shove your article up your ass. Sincerely Thunder Bay”

Ryan replies:
“Lakehead is one of the best universities in the world? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Having gone there, and been born in thunder bay, i can day firsthand that that’s a BIG nope. Im glad to see it in this list. Its a racial, bigoted shithole that one can only dream of escaping. Unless you’re at retirement age, STAY AWAY.”

OC also replies to Collin Johnson:
“Although I respect your pride…you’re not even half right. Census shows that there is a population drop of 2% contrary to the Ontario overall growth rate of 5.7%. Meanwhile Lakehead didn’t even register in McLeans Top 15. No offence, it’s a dying city. And do some research before making claims…your not writing a Lakehead quality thesis.”

Kathleen writes:
“You want immigrants to avoid moving to Canada due to the presence of Aboriginal people? That is really rich. Aboriginal people face problems across Canada. Even where they make up somewhat less of the population. In Toronto near St. Mike’s hospital a disproportionate number of the people I see with very unfortunate circumstances (homeless, dealing with substance abuse issues, etc.) are Aboriginal. Why should immigrants prefer southern Ontario, because it is better to move to a city with a large, visible “underclass” of fellow immigrants?
Some internationally qualified professionals do well in Thunder Bay because their specialized skills are in demand and there is less competition in fields like medicine and engineering. I guess if you are looking for the best place to live and don’t have many specialized skills, it might not be a top pick, but even then it’s no harder to get a job at Timmies than it is in Southern Ontario and the cost of living is lower.
I would encourage any immigrant to do a lot of research before picking a place to live. Access to their own cultural or religious community, employment and even the weather, are totally valid considerations, but these can be considered without painting an excessively negative picture of communities in Canada that are not likely high on the consideration list of most immigrants anyway. Way to perpetuate stereotypes.
Well I wouldn’t be able to name names, but if you have a research consultant, it would be very easy to look into the local health system and the university, two of the larger employers in town, and research the employment of internationally qualified professionals. The barriers to having credentials assessed and recognized are the same across the province, but the very common issue of “Canadian experience” is less of an issue here. I don’t know the polite way to put it, but when you are having more difficulty attracting top professionals, you may be more open to different candidates. There are internationally qualified professionals in top positions at the local hospital and several departments of the university. The Career Bridge program, which largely posts positions in Southern Ontario, honoured an internationally qualified professional who worked with the provincial government to implement new systems at ministry offices in Thunder Bay. So for an individual example, there is that, granted I don’t have their name but Career Edge had published something on the award. The local multicultural association would surely be able to help you find other specific examples.
I mean this isn’t limited to internationally qualified professionals, if you look at local law firms and other organizations, you’ll see that sometimes for people with advanced qualifications, this is a good place to practice. There is less competition that there is in southern Ontario (or specifically the GTA) since more people without a job will naturally gravitate to the place with the greatest total number of jobs.”

Joe adds:
“While it is true the population dipped 2% in the 2011 census, all data today suggests Thunder Bay is currently in a major economic turnaround with the major boom of the mining industry and the discovery of the Ring of Fire. They don’t build brand new Marriott and Delta Hotels to serve a “dying” city. In fact, Thunder Bay’s economy in 2013 showed the most growth out of any city in Ontario. When the Ring of Fire finally does take off, predictions are that Thunder Bay will boom like Calgary did out west.”

DRoberts001 writes:
“Not much depth in the descriptions of each place. I suspect there’s not much depth to the original investigation either. I grew up in London, ON and I lived in Toronto for many years. Moved to Thunder Bay 25 years ago and I wouldn’t move back. For our size, we receive quite a substantial number of immigrants from Central and South America each year and they are welcomed and assisted in many ways. It’s true that there are tensions between the native and non-native population but there are active programs on both sides of the divide working on this. I think the description and photo of Thunder Bay in this article does a great disservice to our people and I suspect it’s the same with the other cities listed here. Just what is this article supposed to accomplish?”

TheSotSays says:
“Well I got sent over here by one of my cousins who thought this story was a good survey and that the photographs are worth cataloguing. It is and I’ve forwarded the link on.
It’s a surprise, but no surprise to find you here, in your ubiquitous fashion, trolling negatives about everything you see.
So since, like a lot of trolls, you’re giving us your life story why don’t you tell us where you got your teeth kicked out. Was it in London or in Thunder Bay?”

Kibbie suggests:
“Let the author have his lun. Thunder Bay is the best kept secret Ontario has to offer and that just suits us Northerners just fine.”

Lindor says:
“I was born and raised in Thunder Bay, moved to Toronto for 2 years, and moved back here. Thunder Bay’s great for nature-lovers, Toronto’s great for city-lovers. You may have to drive hours from TBay to get to another large city, but nature is just outside your front door. The exact opposite is true for people in downtown T.O. It all depends what lifestyle you prefer.”

ThunderBayshouldbe#1 says pretty much what you might think he would say:
“Thunder Bay #8…..????? Try #1 or at the VERY LEAST top 3 worst places to live! I would rather move to Iraq than live back in that shit hole!”

CityGirl objects:
“Glad you did your part to make our city a better place. If you don’t like living here, please leave. Thank-you.”

But ThunderBayshouldbe#1 isn’t done:
“City girl is your name but you live in Thunder Bay?? Everyone that has half a mind has left Thunder Bay and never looked back! Thunder Bay is filled with pill junkies and parasites on society. As I’m writing this to you, you’re probably checking your iPhone which is paid for by tax payers and waiting in line to get your methadone while you patiently wait for your disability cheque.”

Mike Bromley counters:
“Actually, some parts of Iraq are downright pleasant!”

Greg writes:
“I am not sure what your point is in creating a list like this but it seems heavily biased. So just to aid you and your readers, let us put the record straight. Thunder Bay, like much of Canada is a very diverse city. We have the highest concentration of Finnish origin people per capita in all of Canada. We have over 12,000 people of aboriginal descent living in Thunder Bay and we have Ukranian, Italian, British and French origin populations of 17,000 or more. I think that is pretty diverse compared to the picture you tried to paint. Besides the diverse population we also have local theatre, a symphony orchestra, multi-national cuisine and dining and access to one of the most beautiful Provincial Parks in Canada with the Sleeping Giant Park, situated beside the largest freshwater lake in North America (Lake Superior). This and the surrounding area provides an outdoor lifestyle that includes hiking trails, boating, rock-climbing, skiing, ice-fishing, fishing, hunting and more. We also have one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations with Fort William Historical Park a living replica of the old French fur-trade post of the 1800’s.
We have one of the shortest commutes of any Canadian city (20 minutes from one side of the city to the other on a bad traffic day), we have a great University, a college, one of the busiest hospitals in Canada and are half an hour from the US Border.
As an immigrant, Thunder Bay is a wonderful place to live. It offers a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle hard to find elsewhere.
But what would I know – I’m just an immigrant reading your journalistic opinion.”
“Thank you for your clarification and your edit as noted above. I think it helps but your reasoning in your reply suggests you cater to only one particular group of immigrants or that you purposely excluded European immigrants from the opinion piece which seems oddly racist don’t you think? 😉
“What I said is that your article, by highlighting Thunder Bay’s native population as merely a marginalized underclass and by implying that is all that determines diversity, SEEMS oddly racist to me and others. Feel free to disagree with my opinion. I mean I personally disagree fully with your opinion also on here. So we can agree to disagree. Looks like the majority would agree with this particular immigrant though rather than the out-of-touch lawyers’ opinions on here. That’s life.”

CityGirl adds:
“You are joking about the weather, right? … Compare Thunder Bay’s weather with Toronto. You have more snow, more snow storms, more airport closures, highway closures, university/school closures than we do! We aren’t sweaty/smelly hot in the summer, either. Living on the shores of Lake Superior gives us a lovely climate. We, like all Canadians, complain about the weather. Unless you’re a new Canadian from Siberia, you will find most parts of Canada cold and snowy in the winter!”
And: “… and we didn’t need the army for that extra 6 cm of snow 🙂 (sorry Toronto, we will never forget! LOL) I don’t think the difference of 6 cm in snow/rain and 7 degrees of temp really qualify as “the weather” that immigrants should fear. If a new Canadian was expecting Toronto ‘s average of -1C for January.. then the 21 days of below average temperatures (of which 12 were below -8C) would have them saying “Toronto the cold!” Thunder Bay had a comparable 20 days below -8C. Colder – yes – slightly… but not terrifying ‘WEATHER”

True North points out:
“To you! What about people who come from countries where it’s 40+ on an average day?! That’s a HUGE difference in temp. Been to Thunder Bay. My biggest issue was the people. Thanks for reminding me why I don’t go there.”

Justin writes:
“If you’re going to call Thunder Bay a place immigrants should not move to, at least use facts.
Making up numbers like how many “people of colour we have” and that we’re a ten hour drive to the nearest city truly shows how thoughtless your article actually is.
Neither of those are true. Unless you’re driving a golf cart. Get your shit together and stop misleading people.
It’s sad because vulnerable people moving to Canada probably take your garbage seriously.
You suck.”

CityGirl adds:
“I can be in Winnipeg in 7 hours, Sault Ste. Marie in 7 hours, Duluth Minnesota (a real city!) in 3 1/2 hours and Minneapolis/St. Paul in 6 1/2 hours. If I want to drive for 12 hours… I ‘m in Chicago having driven through several large cities in the process. As a bonus … plenty of small towns to explore, wonderful vistas of Lake Superior and other lakes, fantastic rocky hills, beautiful forests, deer, moose, bears, and a plethora of other interesting things. What I don’t see …. 6 and 8 lane highways clogged with semi-trucks and anxious drivers.”

cpsigmtr says the old article:
“Makes me want to move to Thunder Bay…….live with the real Canadians and celebrate Canadian Holidays”

Andrew counters:
“I live in thunder bay , Its not fun here. No jobs , High Rent , Rude people . But hey , If you want to come here, Be my guest.”

Olivia replies:
“I don’t know why you would say that the people here are rude… your attitude attracts people with the same attitude. Rude people is a complete stereotype, all of the people I know are extremely nice and I can’t remember a time that strangers were rude to me.”

And Greg adds:
“I live in Thunder Bay and it is a brilliant place to live. But then I could live in a tent and be happy because that is my attitude. Come to think of it if your attitude sucks, where you live is always going to suck, people will always seem rude, you will likely struggle to find a job and then rent is high no matter how low it really is. cpsigmtr – come join us we have good property prices, an orchestra, good local theatre, good schools, great outdoor living and city luxuries, we are half an hour from the US border but remote enough to only be bothered by people that really want to or need to come here. Life is wonderful -as long as you can handle the 6 month winters! ;)”

RT says:
“They must of talked to the business of Thunder Bay, when they claimed it is a ten hour drive to another city!! Guess this is why our prices are so high? Plus explains why we have a huge out shopping here in TBay. other facts are correct.”

Nikolai writes:
“Okay, I admit that Thunder Bay isn’t really among the best cities in Canada, but it’s not going to be that bad for long. Better things are on the horizon for Thunder Bay. By the way, whoever wrote this article could have found a better picture. Bay Street in Thunder Bay (where the Hoito Restaurant is) is okay, but it’s not the best or worst area of town. Try an area like the waterfront, where there’s a nice view of the Sleeping Giant on Lake Superior. This entire article about each of the towns on this list is a load of BS. I could think of worse things to write here, but I won’t waste your time, so don’t waste ours by writing articles like this.”

Mayor Keith Hobbs writes:

“Thunder Bay was built by the hard-working hands of Immigrants. We have a large Italian population, the largest Finnish population in the world outside of Finland, 22,000 urban Aboriginals (estimate) and a growing Muslim community.
We have a Thunder Bay Race Relations Committee, Diversity Thunder Bay Committee, a very active Multicultural Council and Multicultural Youth Council.
Thunder Bay is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada boasting the lowest unemployment rate in Ontario at 5.6%.
We have a world class hospital, Regional Research Institute that attracts Scientists from all parts of the world. We have a School of Medicine, A Law School, University, College, symphony orchestra, Community auditorium etc etc.
We are one of the most Diverse cities of it’s size in North America.
The Mayor (me) was a Landed Immigrant (now a Canadian Citizen)
Please research a city before you put us in the bad light that you did.”

Some of the commenters on our original article thought London should have been on that list. London is the 5th biggest city in Ontario. There’s an international airport, apparently.

LondonDoubter writes:
“I’m surprised London, Ontario isn’t on this list.”


1. Toronto – 24%

Not surprisingly, nearly one quarter of respondents thought that Toronto is the city immigrants shouldn’t settle in. While this might be a product of the rest of Canada’s well-known hatred of the city that thinks it’s the centre of the universe, there may be some solid reasons for this:

Toronto Visible Minorities

The Good

  • There are a wide variety of jobs in Toronto, most industries are represented in the GTA in one way or another;
  • Chances are, you will be able to find not only fellow nationals, but community organizations and even businesses – groceries, restaurants – run by and for your nationality or ethnic group;
  • If you live in the old city, you won’t need a car;
  • If you care about these types of things, Toronto has more pro sports, live theatre and live music than anywhere else in this country – not to mention one of the biggest film festival’s in the world – though these benefits usually come with a hefty price tag.

Toronto Foreign Born Population

The Bad

  • The cost of living is terrible, and rent in particular can be ridiculous (for Canada);
  • Though it is impossible to find an apartment, it is also rather difficult to find a job;
  • If you live outside of the old city, you most definitely will need a car, and you will spend a lot of time and energy in traffic, getting to and from your home;
  • Ontario used to be the centre of the Canadian economy but the real jobs – more openings and better wages – are out west, in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta;
  • Ontario’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is the least immigrant-friendly in the entire country.


Please note that more people have voted since this article was written and the numbers may not be currentTo see the current numbers vote in the poll on the left.



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