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10 best cities for artists in Canada

From west coast to east coast, there's a city calling out for your creative expression
10 best cities for artists in Canada

If you’re looking for a new place to live as an artist in Canada, these cities will do the trick. Whether it comes down to being an affordable place to live, or there are plenty of artistic-inspired job opportunities or the city, itself, can offer a bit of inspiration, here are the 10 best cities for artists in Canada.

To create this list, we considered how lively the art scene was in each city, whether or not an artist can survive here, financially speaking, and if the city provides the right cultural, historical, or natural inspiration points for someone crafting their next big piece. One could say that this list is a real work of art! Here’s our list of the top 10 cities for artists to live in Canada.

Best Cities for Artists No. 10: London, Ontario

10 best cities for artists in Canada. London, Ontario
(Source: Wiki Creative Commons / Ryan Stubbs)

If you’re looking to get your artistic career off the ground, London might be the place. Haven’t heard anything about the art scene? That’s because this city is an underrated choice for artists. But consider this, it’s been the launching spot for many famous Canadian artists, such as actor Ryan Gosling, 2013 Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton and painter, all female heavy metal band Kittie and filmmaker Jack Chambers. Plus, you’ll find galleries, culture and a general adoration for the arts in this very tight-knit artistic community.

What’s the artistic hub of London, Ontario? The Arts Project is a collective of promoters, collectors and artists who are devoted to London’s art scene. They provide space in the downtown core for emerging and developing artists.

Best Cities for Artists No. 9: Alert Bay, British Columbia

10 best cities for artists in Canada. Alert Bay, BC
(Source: Flickr / A.Davey)

Art can be global. Art can be local. While Alert Bay is a small city it boasts a thriving art scene that ranges from award-winning First Nations work to contemporary art installations and pieces. If you want inspiration and you love nature, this may be the best place for you to settle into your artistic endeavours.

What’s the artistic hub of Alert Bay? ArtLoft Gallery is known for having month-by-month themes and consistently showcases local artists.

Best Cities for Artists No. 8: Stratford, Ontario

10 best cities for artists in Canada
(Source: Flickr / Ken Lund)

Stratford is a small town in Ontario that borrows heavily on its annual Shakespeare Festival. As a result, the downtown core of this small city is now a charming artistic hot spot, where people can gather for a coffee at Balzac’s before sauntering down flower-lined Main street and walking into one of the many galleries or theatres that dot the area. What this means is that Stratford has turned into a place for creators, built by creators—and a phenomenal place for an artist to set down roots.

What’s the artistic hub of Stratford? Right in the heart of the city, Agora Art Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that thrives on highlighting local talent.

Best Cities for Artists No. 7: Burnaby, British Columbia

10 best cities for artists. Shadbolt Centre, Burnaby, BC

The natural beauty found throughout British Columbia is inspiring in its own right, what makes Burnaby even more inspiring is that the city is dedicated to fostering and nurturing its local art scene. There are various art galleries, public art installations and dozens of events showcasing the various talents of local Burnaby artists as well as Lower Mainland and Vancouver artists. As a result, Burnaby appears to be a city with lots of opportunities for a growing artist.

What’s the artistic hub of Burnaby? The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts is the place for artists in town. They have exhibits, classes, a variety of outdoor events and much more. Plus, the centre is located in a beautifully landscaped park just off Deer Lake, making it an artistic oasis in a busy, thriving city.

Best Cities for Artists No. 6: Regina, Saskatchewan

10 best cities for artists in Canada
(Source: Wikimedia Commons / Ccyyrree)

Cities growing and expanding are often great places for artists to gather. Quite often the cost of living is more affordable, while the opportunities are more plentiful. Regina is one of those places.

What’s the artistic hub of Regina? The Art Gallery of Regina is the place to be. While it might seem strange to see a large facility on this list, this gallery works hard to highlight the work of artists based out of Saskatchewan, making it a hub for local and regional artists.

Best Cities for Artists No. 5: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

10 best cities for artists in Canada
(Source: Flickr / Doug Kerr)

This gem on the East Coast is the perfect place for an artist to make a living and pursue their passion. The low cost of living, the East Coast hospitality and the opportunity for peace and solitude mixed with good neighbourly friendliness makes it the perfect spot for the artistic soul who craves community but needs privacy.

What’s the artistic hub of Charlottetown? There are multiple festivals dedicated to the arts, which means that you might find yourself exhibiting sooner than later when you live here.

Best Cities for Artists No. 4: Toronto, Ontario

10 best cities for artists in Canada
(Source: Wikimedia Commons / Staka)

How could we go on this long without mentioning Toronto? Toronto is a place where artists tend to thrive, thanks to the immense amount of culture, support and job opportunities. While it definitely pays to be a bit more established here, many artists have used it this hub as a place to grow and springboard their careers into something bigger.

What’s the artistic hub of Toronto? It has to be the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Not only is the outside a real work of art but the inside features collections from some of the top artistic minds. Plus the kid-friendly events and the Weston Family Learning Centre means you can help even the youngest family member to foster a passion for the arts.

Best Cities for Artists No. 3: Wolfville, Nova Scotia

10 best cities for artists in Canada
(Source: Wikimedia Commons / Verne Equinox)

Wolfville a bustling university town, which means there is an abundance of pretty affordable accommodation in this town. It also means there’s a youthful, vibrant, curious energy that tends to seek out new music, theatre, and art. This makes Wolfville the perfect breeding ground for aspiring artists and those ready to experiment with their medium.

What’s the artistic hub of Wolfville? Check out the Community Environmental Art Project. This is where organic objects are transformed into everyday art. You’ll never look at sticks and stones the same way again.

Best Cities for Artists No. 2: Montreal, Quebec

10 best cities for artists in CanadaMontreal is one of the top art cities in Canada, as well as the world. Here you’ll find a grittier love for the aesthetic senses and a need to push artistic boundaries. The vibes here are raw, emotionally-charged, and passionate and this comes through in the art that are scattered throughout the city.

What’s the artistic hub of Montreal? Cirque Du Soleil is an international phenomenon, but its humble roots were in Montreal. This is the art of moving par excellence—you need to see it to believe it. For those pinched in the wallet, consider a walking tour of street art, with fantastic and colourful murals littering the streets you can’t turn a corner without being inspired.

Best Cities for Artists No. 1: Vancouver, British Columbia

10 best cities for artists in Canada
(Source: Wikimedia Commons / Philip Jama)

Vancouver stands as the pinnacle of places for artists to call home in Canada. While the cost of living is extraordinary, the opportunities are exceptional. The city is committed to all forms of art and consistently commissions public installations and outdoor exhibitions. But it’s not just politicians who support art in this city. Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood hosts an annual mural festival, while Commercial Drive continues to attract the alternative living and artistic crew. There’s also South Granville for the fancier, more upscale galleries.

While the Art Gallery of Vancouver is a beautiful sight to behold, the real draw these days is Great Northern Way, the new campus for the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. The focus is on digital media, but all artists will find inspiration at the campus.

What’s the artistic hub of Vancouver? While few would argue with suggestions like Granville Island or Commercial Street, the new hub of art in Vancouver is the Arts Factory Society. DHX Media recently set up shop here and there are numerous animation and art studios that the place just oozes the creative juice.

Max Specht
Max Specht

Nothing makes Max Specht happier than telling people where to go and what to do—and not in an authoritative sense. He prides himself on being a tour guide par excellence and has the recommendations to prove it.