Are big cities overrated? According to this new ranking by Resonance Consultancy, they might be. Many of the 25 best small cities in Canada are actually in Ontario and scored highly in all of the major categories.

The ranking is based on six key metrics — Place, Product, Programming, Prosperity, People, and Promotion.

Each of these metrics is based on sub-categories of each city’s identity. For example, Place ranks the city’s weather, safety, neighbourhoods, landmarks, and outdoors.

Product ranks the city’s attractions and infrastructure, like airport connectivity, universities, pro sports teams, and convention centres.

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Programming refers to the city’s arts, culture, restaurant, and shopping scene. Promotion refers to the recommendations about the city shared online, including Instagram hashtags and TripAdvisor reviews. You get the picture.

The ranking has named Kingston as Ontario’s best small city. The city ranked third overall, behind Victoria and Kelowna, BC.

“Few Canadian cities—large or small—have the soul, the influence and the sense of place of Kingston,” the ranking says, adding that there is something distinctly Canadian about the Limestone City.

“The almost European walkability, the secret alleys and the grand public buildings and historic red-brick storefronts reminiscent of Cabbagetown or Gastown all have a good reason for being here,” it says.


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Next on the list is Niagara Falls, which unsurprisingly ranked number one in the Promotion category, followed by Waterloo which is described as “Canada’s Silicon Valley.”

Here are the rest of Canada’s best small cities located in Ontario and their overall score.

  • Burlington — #7
  • Guelph — #8
  • Milton — #11
  • Barrie — #17
  • Thunder Bay — #21
  • Aurora — #24
  • St. Catharines — #25

You can find the complete ranking and each city’s description here. But, consider this your warning that it may convince you to ditch your shoebox-sized studio in the city for good.