Canmore is a vibrant mountain community nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. It is known for its stunning scenery, outdoor activities and wildlife. It is a popular destination for holidaymakers and Calgarians looking to escape the city.
Most people are attracted by the incredible location and the range of year-round outdoor activities. It is an expensive place to live, but great for bringing up children and well worth it if you can make the finances work.
In this post, I have tried to give you the facts about living in Canmore, as well as my perspective as someone that has lived there for many years.
Living In Canmore – The Facts
|Population Growth 2016/2021||14.30%|
|Population Born in UK 2016 Census||Not Available|
|Ave Cost Real Estate Jan ’22||$1,011,000|
|Sales Tax||5% GST|
|Prov Income Tax Low Band*||10%|
|Prov Income Tax High Band*||15%|
|Crime Severity Index 2020**||67.9|
|Violent Crime Severity Index 2020**||52.15|
Where Is Canmore?
Canmore is in the western province of Alberta in the Rocky Mountains. The closest major city is Calgary, around a 1-hour drive east of the town. Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada, is a 10-hour drive.
The town lies in the Bow Valley at the southern edge of Banff National Park. The Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) and the Canadian Pacific Railroad run through the town, as does the Bow River.
The downtown area is on the valley floor, close to the river, but residential areas have spread up the valley sides over the years.
Canmore has a low population density and lots of green space, partly due to the need to provide wildlife corridors.
What Is The Population Of Canmore in 2023?
The population of Canmore in 2023 is 14,530, according to the latest Alberta provincial data.
After many years of rapid growth, the population of Canmore has stabilized over the past few years. The latest federal census data (released in 2022) showed a population of 15,990 in 2021. This is higher than more recent provincial data, but this can be attributed to slightly different calculation methods rather than a significant decrease in population,
The population of Canmore is predominantly white and English speaking. According to the latest census data, visible minorities account for around 13% of the population. The largest minority groups living in Canmore are Filipino and Japanese.
A large proportion of the population was drawn to Canmore for the mountains and the opportunities for hiking, biking and winter sports. The town is popular with families, and the community is physically very active.
As a result, the average age of the population appears low, although, at 42.5 years, it is marginally above national averages. There are also significant numbers of seasonal workers who tend to be young and single.
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What Is The Weather Like In Canmore?
Winters in Canmore can be very long but milder than many places in Canada. You will typically find snow on the ground from December until late April/early May. It can snow at pretty much any time of year; I think July is the only month when I haven’t ever seen snow.
The temperatures are moderated by warm, dry Chinook winds that often blow through the valley during the winter. A Chinook can last from a few hours to a few days and bring quite dramatic temperature increases. An increase of 10-20 deg C within a day is not uncommon.
Spring tends to be very short, almost non-existent, and June is the wettest month. July and August are warm without being uncomfortably hot. The humidity is low, and temperatures tend to cool at night.
Fall is probably my favourite time of year. It can be cool, but the air is crisp and clear, there will be now on the mountains, and the fall colours are beautiful.
|Annual Rainfall (mm)||404|
|Annual Snowfall (mm)||257|
|Ave Hours Sunshine/Day||5.0|
|Ave Jan Temp (DegC)||-7|
|Ave July Temp (DegC)||11|
Is The Cost Of Living High In Canmore?
The cost of living is very high and is one of Canmore’s most significant downsides. The Living Wage for Canmore in 2021 was a whopping $37.40 per hour.
The Living Wage is the hourly wage rate that each parent of a two-child family needs to earn to cover basic living costs. Canmore’s rate compares to a provincial average of just $21.00 per hour and a rate for Calgary of $18.60 per hour.
The availability of affordable housing is a continuing issue within the town. Many businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, struggle to find workers because lower-wage employees can’t afford rental and property costs.
What Is The Economy Of Canmore Based On?
Canmore originated as a mining community, but today its economy is built on tourism. The town is a summer and winter holiday destination and is popular with Calgarian weekenders year-round.
The town benefits from being just over an hour from Calgary International Airport and close proximity to Banff (one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations).
In 1988 the Olympic cross-country ski events were held at Canmore’s Nordic Centre. Since then, the town’s population has more than tripled and continues to grow. This growth has fueled a secondary industry in construction.
Does Canmore Have Good Transport Connections?
Within the Bow Valley, Roam Transit operates bus services in the Banff/Canmore area. There are regular services between Banff and Canmore and within Canmore itself. But if you want to travel further afield, then you will probably need to drive.
How Do I Travel Between Canmore And Calgary?
At the moment, there isn’t public transport between Canmore and Calgary. The options for travelling to Calgary are:
- Drive (either your car, a rental car, or car share)
- Taxi or Uber
- Take the Banff Airporter (a bus which connects Banff/Canmore to Calgary Airport. It is a relatively expensive option mainly used by tourists)
The town lies on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, but at the moment, only freight trains operate in the region. However, this may change, as a proposal for a rail link between Banff/Canmore and Calgary is currently under consideration.
On the positive side, Canmore is well-positioned for international travel. It is a little over an hour’s drive from Calgary International Airport. Calgary Airport is the fourth busiest in Canada; before covid, over 17 million passengers passed through the airport each year. Almost a third of these were international passengers.
What Outdoor Activities Can I Enjoy In Canmore?
Canmore is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and why many people move here. The most popular summer activities are hiking and biking, with an endless choice of trails for all abilities. For more extreme options, there is mountaineering or rock climbing.
The Bow River provides opportunities for canoeing, but the waters can be dangerous. Steer clear unless you are very experienced.
Winter sports are what attracts many to the area. The Canmore Nordic Centre is a world-class cross-country skiing facility with many lit trails for night skiing. The area switches to a network of mountain biking trails in the summer.
Skating outside is one of my favourite winter activities. This can be on one of the outdoor rinks maintained by the town, on the town pond, or on one of the lakes in the area (make sure you get advice from an expert before venturing out).
If you enjoy downhill skiing, you have some of the world’s best ski resorts. The following are all easily accessible for a day’s skiing.
- Mount Norquay – close to Banff, around a half-hour drive from Canmore – is one of the smaller resorts but with runs to suit most abilities. It also offers night skiing.
- Banff Sunshine – it takes around an hour to get from Canmore to the resort, a 35 minutes drive, plus a 15-minute gondola ride (but on the way back, you can ski down to the car park). This is a vast resort, very spaced out, and great for beginners, intermediates and experts.
- Lake Louise – just under an hour’s drive from Canmore – has stunning views over Lake Louise and runs and terrain to suit everyone.
- Nakiska – close to Kananaskis Village, is around a 40-minute drive from Canmore – another smaller resort, perfect for beginners.
Does Canmore Have Good Entertainment And Nightlife?
Canmore doesn’t have lively nightlife. So if you want to party, then Banff is your best bet. Canmore does, however, have a good range of bars and restaurants for a town of its size. These are concentrated in the downtown area and on Bow Valley Trail (where most hotels are located).
Best Bars And Restaurants In Canmore
Popular bars include the Canmore Hotel, The Drake, The Rose and Crown, and The Tavern. All are located on, or close to, Main Street. Try Boston Pizza on Bow Valley Trail for a late-night drink or bite to eat.
Some of my favourite restaurants are:
- Chez Francois for breakfast (the Georgetown Inn is also popular)
- Spice Hut for East Indian food
- Gaucho Brazilian BBQ
- Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co for the best pizza EVER (either eat in or take away)
What Sports Can I Watch In Canmore?
The Canmore Eagles ice hockey team competes in the Alberta Junior Ice Hockey League (AJHL) for hockey fans. They generally play around one home game per week through the season.
If you are prepared to travel to Calgary, then you have several major league teams to support.
- The Calgary Flames ice hockey team competes in the National Hockey League (NHL)
- The Calgary Stampeders (American) football team competes in the Canadian Football League (CFL)
- The Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team competes in the National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Also, the Canmore Nordic Centre regularly hosts high-level cross-country skiing and biathlon events. For example, in 2022, it hosted the Biathlon World Cup (a biathlon is an event that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting).
Which Are The Best Neighbourhoods In Canmore?
There aren’t any bad neighbourhoods in Canmore. However, some of the condo complexes on the valley floor cater to visitors, so there may be less of a community feel. The pros and cons of some of the main neighbourhoods in Canmore are given below:
Three Sisters is based at the far southwest end of town. It is a beautiful area built within the trees on the edge of town. The main downside is that it is a little further away from the town than most other residential areas.
Cougar Creek, Eagle Terrace and Silvertip are on the eastern side of the valley overlooking the town. This area is known as the “sunny side” of town, retaining the sun until later in the day.
The downside is that the area is separated from downtown by both the highway and railway. It is also a relatively steep walk or bike ride to get up the valley. However, many of the houses have great views, and this side of the valley is popular with families.
Larch Area and Lions Park are on the valley floor northwest of Main Street. They have easy access to the river trail (where many residents like to walk and bike) and downtown.
South Canmore refers to the area south of Main Street. This was traditionally an area of smaller houses, which have gradually been replaced with larger family houses.
Spring Creek is a newer community just south of Main Street. It is a complex of mainly luxury apartments, which benefit from being close to downtown.
Is Canmore A Safe Place To Live?
Canmore is an extremely safe place to live. Crime rates in Canmore are significantly below national averages and amongst the lowest in Canada. In the many years I have lived there, I haven’t ever felt threatened or unsafe (unless you count bears and elk – see below for more!!).
Are There Bears In Canmore?
Both black and grizzly bears can be seen in Canmore, although it is possible to go several years without spotting one. But sometimes, weather conditions will drive them into the valley searching for berries. Then there can be sightings daily.
You are most likely to find bears on the trails around the edge of town and along the river, but they have been known to venture downtown. A few years ago, diners at a local restaurant were shocked when a black bear wandered in through an open door.
The good news about black and grizzly bears is that they aren’t naturally aggressive and will normally avoid human contact. Unfortunately, in my experience, you are much more likely to have a negative encounter with an elk.
Elk can be seen daily around town. They can weigh up to 300kg and cause serious injury. I find the biggest issue with them is their unpredictability; they can change without warning.
The animal you really want to avoid is the cougar. These large cats are rarely seen but are active in the valley year-round. They normally avoid humans, but if hungry, they may see us as prey.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Canmore
Pros Of Living In Canmore
- Stunning mountain location
- Very low crime
- Hiking/biking/mountain climbing
- Good choice of bars/restaurants
- World Class Cross-Country Skiing
- Downhill skiing resorts close
Cons Of Living In Canmore
- Long winters
- High cost of living
- Lack of public transport
If you are interested in checking out other small towns in Alberta, you may be interested in our article on the 16 Best Small Towns In Alberta To Live In 2023.
FAQ – Living In Canmore Alberta
Sources of Data Statistics Canada & Canadian Real Estate Association