Tucked in the Canadian Rockies just over 100 kilometres west of Downtown Calgary, Canmore combines outdoor adventure and quaint small-town ambiance. Known for its picturesque landscapes and a range of outdoor activities, the town also prides itself on a community dedicated to environmental care.
For those contemplating moving to Alberta, understanding the nuances of life in Canmore—from its housing market to the local cultural scene—is essential.
10 Reasons to Move to Canmore
- Downhill, touring, and Nordic skiing
- Abundant outdoor activities
- Opportunity for new construction homes
- No provincial tax on goods and services
- Local golf courses
- Paddleboarding on the Bow River
- Two national parks just minutes away
- Just over an hour to Calgary
- Canmore Winter Carnival
- Breathtaking Rocky Mountain views
Cost of Living in Canmore
It is more expensive to live in Canmore than in other parts of Alberta, but the great quality of life that residents enjoy more than makes up for it. Homes for sale in Canmore can be found listed in the $500s, but this end of the price spectrum typically comprises small condos. Compared to condos in Calgary, where studios and one-bedroom condos list from the high $200s, prices are significantly higher.
Detached Canmore homes are occasionally priced for just under $1 million, but the vast majority list from $1.3 million to $3.5 million. Exceptional estates and luxury mountainside homes can list for up to $9 million.
A two-bedroom apartment rental averages around $2,000 per month, but some apartments can be double that price. Food prices in Canmore can cost around 5% more than elsewhere in the province. Many residents offset these higher prices by doing bulk grocery shopping in Calgary or Cochrane. Despite the length of the drive, the cost savings are worth it.
Alberta is the only province in Canada without a retail sales tax, so that helps with the monthly budget. Healthcare costs are about the same in Canmore as elsewhere in the province, and transportation and utilities in Canmore tend to cost less than in the rest of Alberta.
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Canmore Job Market
Canmore was established in 1884 as a mining community to support the Canadian Pacific Railway trains. The area became revitalized after the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Most of the events took place in the city of Calgary, but Canmore hosted the cross-country and biathlon events. Its popularity has only increased since then. The spectacular and varied skiing and outdoor opportunities mean the tourism and hospitality industries thrive year-round.
The Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) runs right through Canmore, bringing a tremendous amount of visitors each year. It's not unusual for the national parks that border Canmore, like Banff National Park, to draw millions of tourists to the area. Due to the proximity, they often stop for a hotel stay and to dine in Canmore.
Jobs in Canmore that support these industries stay busy all year long, as skiers come in the winter and hikers and other outdoor adventurers visit in the summer.
Popular Industries in the Area
In addition to being closely aligned with the Calgary economy, Canmore is a popular travel destination, so tourism and hospitality services fuel a large portion of the local economy. However, real estate and construction are other popular industries in Canmore, as the area is seeing rapid growth.
Professional services are another large industry, including accountants, attorneys, physicians, veterinarians, and other similar professions requiring an advanced degree. Finally, retail work and accommodations, both heavily related to supporting the tourism industry, are also important to the Canmore economy.
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Things to Do in Canmore
The area around Canmore is truly an outdoor paradise. The two national parks in the area provide countless hiking trails for outdoor adventures. Canmore also has over 71 kilometres of multi-use trails within the town limits. Then there's skiing, golfing, fishing, and local attractions to visit. For those who just want to enjoy a quiet night out at a restaurant, Canmore has plenty of options. Plus, the endless things to do in Calgary are always within reach.
Quarry Lake Park is a popular spot for locals and tourists in Canmore. The lake itself is suitable for fishing and swimming during the summer. It has an off-leash dog park, public washrooms, and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. For avid golfers, there are world-class public and private golf courses in the area; plus, Calgary's best golf courses are just over an hour's drive from town. Fishing is also popular and plentiful in the Bow Valley's numerous lakes, rivers, and streams.
Guided hiking and biking tours are available, or people are welcome to explore and go sightseeing on their own. Hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails set out from Canmore into the nearby mountain ranges. During the winter months, cross-country and Nordic skiing opportunities are abundant.
Bow Valley Provincial Park, known as Kananaskis Country, is a must-see outdoor area that borders Canmore to the south. Enjoy everything from backcountry camping to kayaking and sightseeing.
Canmore is a Scottish word that means "great head" or "chief" in Gaelic. So, naturally, there is a giant head sculpture sticking out of the ground in Downtown Canmore. This local landmark is on 8 Street in Canmore, next to the Drake Pub.
Directly south of Canmore, sightseers will find the Grotto Canyon parking lot on the north side of the Bow Valley Trail. From the parking lot, pick up the moderately challenging out-and-back Grotto Canyon Trail. The beautiful hike is open year-round, although snow boots may be helpful during the winter for obvious reasons.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Canmore's thriving tourist population allows dozens of restaurants to thrive in the city. This means that locals always have great options for dining or a night out at local brewpubs, distilleries, and bars, and the nightlife scene in Calgary is just over an hour away.
- Ankor is a favourite local restaurant that serves contemporary Canadian dishes. It has a menu that changes seasonally.
- Sauvage is the perfect spot for a couple wanting a romantic seven-course meal paired with a nice bottle of wine.
- 4296 is a pop culture cuisine restaurant like nothing else in Canmore.
For those wanting a cocktail or a craft beer, Canmore has plenty of choices. The Drake Pub offers drinks, food, live music, and a dance floor. The Wild Life Distillery is a go-to for handcrafted spirits and cocktails. Finally, the Dancing Sasquatch has the most club-like atmosphere in Canmore, with DJs, live music, dancing, and drinks from Thursday through Sunday.
Canmore has a climate that tends to be chilly, although it's not as cold as many other parts of Alberta. The Rocky Mountains provide some shelter from the wind during the winter, but a puffy jacket is an essential part of the wardrobe for anyone living here. Even during the summer, it can become chilly in the evenings once the sun sets.
January is generally the coldest month in Canmore, with lows around -13 degrees Celsius and highs around -5. One thing that helps with adjusting to the long winters here in the mountains is to embrace a winter sport, whether it's skating, cross-country skiing, or dog sledding.
Spring is still a chilly time in Canmore as the snow is melting off. Daytime highs will be anywhere from 1 to 12 degrees, with nighttime temperatures often remaining below freezing.
The summer and fall months are the best time to be in Canmore. Temperatures climb into the 20s during the day and only drop into to around 10 degrees at night. This makes outdoor activities extremely enjoyable since it won't get too hot during any outdoor activities.
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Driving in Canmore
With a population of around 14,000 people, Canmore does not experience anything similar to rush hour in Calgary or its nearby communities. Dropping the kids off at school, getting to work, and getting back home at the end of the day doesn't take long at all for most residents. Driving from Canmore to Banff typically takes around 20 minutes, and it takes just over an hour to drive to Downtown Calgary.
The town of Canmore is always very fast when it comes to clearing snow from the roads in the winter. Anytime more than two centimetres of snow accumulates, plowing begins on the main residential and commercial streets. Despite the heavy snowfall that Canmore sometimes receives, residents don't often get "snowed in" during the winter months. Even the paved pathways and sidewalks are generally cleared of snow within 48 hours, for the benefit of those who prefer to bike or walk to work.
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Canmore Public Transportation
The town operates a public bus service that is free to use. Although there are only three main routes in Canmore, that's generally enough to cover most of the important areas of Canmore, plus service to Banff. Route 3 of ROAM Local bus service runs between Downtown Canmore and Banff every day.
Route 5C runs between Downtown Canmore, north to Canmore Collegiate, and then through the southeast (Cougar Creek) part of town. Meanwhile, Route 5T runs between the downtown area and the Three Sisters part of town. Each route makes stops roughly between 30 and 40 minutes throughout the day.
Paid parking is in effect every day between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This is done to encourage people to bike, walk, or ride the free bus service to work each day. Most residents live close enough to downtown that walking or biking is fairly easy.
Schools in Canmore
Canmore students attend the Canadian Rockies Public School District. The Elizabeth Rummel School is a traditional K–3 public elementary school, while The Alpenglow School is a K through 6th alternative school that uses the Waldorf education model, which emphasizes integrating the arts into every subject area.
The middle school encompasses grades 4th through 8th in Canmore, and all students in these grades attend Lawrence Grassi Middle School. It's a French immersion school and has a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, musical options, and mentorship programs.
Roughly 600 high school students in grades 9th through 12th attend Canmore Collegiate High School. It has a rigorous academic program and a full range of high school sports for students to participate in.
Canmore also has one public Catholic school for students in Grades K–12; Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy has been in operation since 2001.
For higher education, schools in Calgary provide plenty of options. Although it no longer has a physical campus in Canmore, Bow Valley College provides online services for students to earn university transfer credits, career certificate programs, and a GED program.
Rocky Mountain Living in Canmore
The town of Canmore is much more than just a location; it's an entrance to a life surrounded by majestic nature. While living here comes at a higher cost, it's comparable to the cost of living in Calgary, and the community has tons to offer. This town combines its rugged mountain views with a sense of community warmth, offering a unique living experience. For new residents, Canmore is a place where each day is filled with inspiration drawn from the natural beauty and the close community ties.