• Ane from Boomerang

5 Best Small Towns in Ontario to Retire

Updated: Jul 27

Small-town Ontario might be the best place to retire.

Something changes when you retire. You wake up and realize that you’re not obligated to be anywhere or do anything. Travelling is usually at the top of the list of activities that will now fill your time, but what about a more permanent change of scenery?

If you’re currently living in the city, small-town Ontario offers an opportunity for a change of pace. And what better time to explore change than during retirement. With that said, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 favourite small towns to retire in Ontario. Places across the province that can fit the lifestyle you’ll now be living in retirement.

What are the best place to retire in Ontario?

1. Paris, Ontario

Paris Railway Bridge in Paris, ON

Photo via The Culture Trip

Voted Canada’s “prettiest little town,” Paris is perfect for peaceful retirement. It comes adorned with waterfalls and historic cobblestone buildings that rival European architecture. Every season is an experience. Autumn, in particular, with its scenic foliage that colours the town, or the winter months when you can sneak into one of Paris’ renowned bakeries or award-winning fine dining restaurants.

Things to do in Paris

  1. Visit Penman’s Damn

  2. Hike through Canada’s only Carolinian forest

  3. Raft the Grand River

Looking for more hiking suggestions? Read our article on the best fall hikes in Ontario.

2. Collingwood, Ontario

Blue Mountain Village in Collingwood, ON

Photo via The Culture Trip

Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you want to sit at home all day. Collingwood is a small town that still presents opportunities for fun all year round. Located on Georgian Bay, Collingwood is known for its Blue Mountain ski resort. Winters brings thousands of visitors to its slopes, but you can still enjoy biking and golfing during the summer months. Collingwood’s popularity means you may not get the quaint, small-town feel, but it’s a unique intersection between the city and a less urban lifestyle.

Things to do in Collingwood

  1. Ski Blue Mountain

  2. Attend the summer music festival

  3. Go ziplining or hit the beach

3. Picton, Ontario

Picton harbor in Prince Edward County

Photo via The County

I don’t know about you, but I think for many wine and retirement go hand-in-hand. With Picton being part of Prince Edward County, one of Canada’s regions known for its wine, you’ll have easy access to all the fine wine you can sip. On top of that, Picton is surrounded by an abundance of natural landscapes and six municipal parks. Summers do get busy once the cottagers start descending from the city, but you’ll still feel like you’re far enough away from the bustle. Many people have nicknamed Prince Edward County the Hamptons of Toronto. Take that however you will!

Things to do in Picton

  1. Picnic at Picton Harbour

  2. Attend one of the many wine and food festivals

  3. Visit one of over 40 wineries

  4. Relive the 19th century in one of Picton’s historic museums

  5. Prince Edward County also boasts of its Age in Place concept that encourages people who are retired or near retired to live active lives

4. Merrickville, Ontario

Rideau Canal in Merrickville, ON

Photo via thegreatwaterway.com

If you’re really trying to escape the city life during your retirement, Merrickville might be the place. Located on the Rideau Canal, it’s a full four hours from Toronto and known as Canada’s most beautiful village. Merrickville is fairly crowd-free no matter what time of year, which separates it from some of the other towns. But that makes it more ideal for residential living if you’ve truly exhausted yourself with city life. It’s been hailed as an artist’s haven with one of the highest rates of artists per capita in Canada.

Things to do in Merrickville

  1. Visit one of the designated heritage buildings

  2. Canoe or kayak down the Rideau

  3. Bike to the island of Kilmarnock

5. Stratford, Ontario

Storefronts in Stratford, ON

Photo via Toronto Sun

Stratford may not be the quiet escape from the city, but it’s also not as hectic as you may think. You’ll keep busy all year round with all the theatre events and festivals, but at its core, Stratford is a small town in Ontario full of friendly people who won’t mind waving when they walk by. It’s also a beacon of creativity known for its rich culinary, theatrical, musical and distillery culture. If you’re looking for an artistically stimulating retirement, give Stratford a try.

Things to do in Stratford

  1. Go see one of the Shakespeare plays

  2. Visit the Stratford/Perth Museum

  3. Don’t tell anyone when you sneak off to the Justin Bieber exhibit

Try a new hobby with Boomerang

Pursuing your hobbies or rediscovering your passions has never been easier. With Boomerang, older adults can register for over 250+ online workshops to explore creativity, wellness, mental health, culinary skills, and more. Express yourself through visual art, learn to cook new dishes or get active in virtual yoga classes. Our online workshops are led by passionate hosts to help you explore your interests.

Sign up today to get access to all Boomerang workshops!

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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