Great Canadian college towns
College graduates raising their caps in the air

When it comes to Canadian universities or colleges, many of the big cities tend to get all of the attention. Places like Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, and Ottawa are known for their big schools, nightlife, and attractions, and while these cities can absolutely be fun to explore and live in, they might not be for everyone. If you’re a Canadian college alumni, you’ll know that sometimes smaller is better. Here are a few great Canadian college towns to consider.

Kingston, Ontario

Located on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston is a much-loved university and college town in Ontario. In fact, thanks to the multiple post-secondary schools in the area, it’s often described as a student town, making it a great place to meet others and make friends both in and outside of studies. Kingston is often described as having a small and friendly feel, but with all the conveniences of a larger city. But for those who cravie big-city life, Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto are all only a couple of hours away by car or train and make for easy weekend escapes.

As for things to do in Kingston, you can take advantage of the nearby Lake Ontario for things like kayaking, sailing, or stand-up paddle boarding. There are also some hikes and trails in the nearby area. Kingston additionally has some great history tours, galleries, markets, and a large variety of restaurants, which makes it ideal for foodies. Kingston has a lot to offer and is a more affordable city for students in comparison to nearby Toronto and Ottawa.

Kamloops, British Columbia

One of the biggest draws of British Columbia for many is its amazing nature – the abundance of mountains, hills, and lakes for hiking, biking, skiing, and of course plenty of wildlife. Locaated in interior British Columbia in the Thompson Valley, Kamloops has a population of about 90,000 and prides itself on offering a diverse blend of urban and outdoor living. Surrounded by nature, it’s an ideal place to get outside at any time of year. Whether you are an adventure seeker or someone who prefers more of a leisurely walk, there are plenty of options.

While nature and the outdoors are a huge draw here, Kamloops also is known for its culture and art scene. From galleries and museums to music and arts festivals, there is always something going on in Kamloops, making it a fun and exciting place to study. 

Antigonish, Nova Scotia

When thinking of colleges in the east coast of Canada, it’s impossible to ignore Antigonish, Nova Scotia. This is truly a student town and known as the “highland heart” of Nova Scotia thanks to its rich Scottish heritage. Fun fact: Antigonish hosts the longest-running highland games in North America!

What makes it such a great Canadian college town? Aside from its east coast charm, Antigonish has plenty to offer all year round, including trailheads for hiking in the warmer months and snowshoeing in the winter. Antigonish also has a string of beautiful beaches with water you can swim in if you are brave enough, or just relax on the sand and enjoy the scenic views.

For the town itself, you can expect to find a number of art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. There’s also a pretty impressive foodie scene featuring east coast seafood as well as local beers and spirits.  Overall, Antigonish is a small, safe town that makes a great choice for university students looking to study away from home.


For a college town in Québec that isn’t a big city like Montréal and Québec City, Trois-Rivières fits the bill. Québec in general is considered to be one of the safest provinces in the country and that same reputation extends to Trois-Rivières as well. With a population of just under 130,000, it’s considered to be a quiet town and an ideal location to live. But don’t let the description of ‘quiet’ turn you away too soon - while it may not be a party city, there is still plenty to see and do making it an ideal college town.

The downtown core has plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes perfect for meeting friends or studying. There is plenty of history to be found in different neighbourhoods and museums, and lots of nearby nature. Trois-Rivières is on the route of several of the best scenic drives through Québec making it ideal to explore on weekends or days off. These include the Chemin du Roy, Navigator’s Route, and Steeples Drive. Trois-Rivières makes a good base that still allows a student – or graduate – to see and explore a lot of the highlights of Québec.

There are so many great Canadian college towns across the country, and if you’re a graduate of any of them, you’ll know how special they can be. Did you know that alumni can bundle and save on home and auto insurance? Learn more about Sonnet’s exclusive discounts for Canadian college alumni!

Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog Eat Sleep Breathe Travel where she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.

Hannah Logan is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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