Canada is about diversity. Home to people from 200 nations, it’s a country with nearly 20% visible minorities. And that multicultural fabric makes its urban neighbourhoods vibrant and compelling—from Montreal’s Little Italy and Toronto’s Roncesvalles Village to Vancouver’s Chinatown and Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
With half of its residents foreign born, Toronto is one of the world’s most multicultural cities, celebrated for its lively neighbourhoods. Spend time in the up-and-comers: The Junction, a reclaimed former industrial zone for former hipsters with kids; for creatives, trendy Leslieville; and historic, rough-n’-tumble Corktown.
True, Gastown is Vancouver’s gritty ‘hood gone groovy, home to artisan butchers and stylish ateliers. There’s also Canada’s largest Chinatown and East Vancouver, AKA Yeast Van, where locals cycle from microbrew to taproom. But Mount Pleasant is where you’ll want to stroll to see all the edgy mural art.
Mile End is Montreal’s trendy bohemian district with a working-class past, your destination for sub-culture speakeasies, edgy fashion, raucous live music and street art. There’s also foodie-forward Little Italy with leafy green parks, quaint architecture, bustling outdoor cafes and the vivacious Jean-Talon public market.
With North America’s largest collection of heritage buildings, the Exchange District is Winnipeg’s culinary hot spot. Join a walking tour down cobbled lanes past old brick warehouses where boundary-pushing chefs anchor “it” kitchens. Shop, listen to an art talk or learn to swing dance. On monthly First Friday evenings, artists open their studios to visitors.
Splurge on decadent desserts at The Middle Spoon, then descend to the (passworded) basement speakeasy Noble for 20s-era cocktails in downtown waterfront Halifax, blending modern chic with historic. Then investigate the nearby North End, the city’s hipster go-to for craft coffee, vintage shopping, sophisticated dining and buzzing beer gardens.
In Calgary, you want to check out the up-and-coming East Village for music, picnics and dining, and Kensington Village near the park-lined Bow River. Funky, multi-cultural Kensington is a mix of retro brick buildings, tattoo parlors, vintage vinyl and consignment, where you can find anything from green smoothies to Indian and Mexican.
If you want to get to know the Acadians, go to Bouctouche. This picturesque harbour town near Moncton is where many French descendants of 17th and 18th century colonists settled. Practice Français and enjoy traditional music at Le Pays de la Sagouine, a recreated historic village with golf plus sand dune hiking and cycling nearby.
Whitehorse is basecamp to myriad outdoor adventures. While you’re in town, cruise the Yukon River waterfront on the vintage trolley. This revitalizing area boasts the dramatic Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, restored White Pass & Yukon Route station, Rotary Peace Park for picnicking and Shipyards Park with unusual historic structures.
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