The Snow Gauge

Running the rule over the ski & snowboard industry since 1995

The five best mountain towns in Canada (it’s time to move)

Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Canada | 0 comments


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Fernie and president elect Donald Trump. Hmmm, what was that Meatloaf song again?

Hate your future president? Too hot where you live? Not enough mountains? There’s a one word solution for you: Canada.

The Snow Gauge has handpicked the five best ski towns in the land for you to relocate. I’ve even managed to check out the real estate and have marked them on the infalible ‘Trudeau Rating Scale’.

So just as soon as the Canadian Immigration website gets back online you can put your application in …


Rossland BC

Rossland … pertty

Where is it? South east British Columbia, almost midway between Vancouver and Calgary.

What’s the town like? The way a mountain town should be. Quaint and quintessential there’s a distinct lack of fast food joints (from memory Subway was the only one). A couple of pubs, pretty streets and about 5km (3 and a bit miles) from the ski hill. The town has only about 4,000 fulltime residents and as such is limited in its facilities but the rather bigger but more charmless smelter town of Trail is just down the road.

Real estate: Average list price is $C261k. Four bedroom, two bathroom houses in the mid $300k range. FULL LISTINGS

What’s the ski resort? Red Mountain. It’s a cracking hill that has undergone expansion in recent years but still has a homey feel. Great powder on its day, it has some of the steepest inbounds terrain I have seen and great back and sidecountry. Slightly archaic lifts are part of the charm. Quality and knowledgeable ski community. And in a ski industry first Red is actually attempting to crowdfund ownership of the mountain so you can own a share in the hill you ride. I did a season there and rate it highly.

Rating: 4.5 Trudeaus



Fernie – more palatable than Donald Trump’s environmental policies

Where is it? About three hours northeast of Rossland, less than an hour from the Alberta border.

What’s the town like? Once described brutally by an Australian acquaintance of mine as “an elongated truck strop”, downtown Fernie has certainly improved in recent years. The former mining town has a fulltime population of about 5,000 which obviously swells a bit in winter. Interestingly it is the only full-sized town surrounded by the Rockies in Canada while it also served as the fictional town in Hot Tub Time Machine. Cranbrook (population 20k) is just over an hour away.

Real estate: A mixed bag depending on where you want to live. Seems to be reasonable 3 bedders in the downtown area in the mid $400k zone. FULL LISTINGS

What’s the ski resort? Fernie. Nine metres of snow is delivered in an average year across a range that has a 1,052m vertical drop. It’s an impressive place to ski or board with a genuine mix of terrain that will cater for all standards. Great bowl and tree skiing. Potentially the most underrated resort in Canada for mine.

Rating: 4 Trudeaus



Nelson’s a cool town. Then there’s the skiing and snowboarding in Whitewater …

Where is it? In the central Kootenays, about an hour and 15 minutes north of the aforementioned Rossland.

What’s the town like? What is it about towns in this neck of the woods, they are better looking than all of Donald’s wives! You’d  just about have to say that Nelson is the pick of the lot though. A little bigger than Fernie and Rossland (the population is over 10k) there are more amenities here and things to do if you are planning on a full relocation. Beautiful architecture, a bit of a hippy feel, great restaurants and scenery too. Apparently, ahem, the grass here is particularly green if you know what I mean.

Real estate: Older 2-3 bedders in the high $300k+ range. Luxury five bedroom house in the high $500K+ FULL LISTINGS

What’s the ski resort? Whitewater. It can be a hairy ride up (or down) from Nelson and I proved it by famously crashing my 78 Ford shitbox into the snowbanks on several occasions. Still, it’s worth the effort as ‘WH20’ has some of the best and most snow of a commercial resort in Canada due to its location an elevation. Small it may be (there are only 3 lifts/1 tow and 623m vertical) it is all killer and no filler here though. Best little ski area in Canada – hands down.

Rating: 5 Trudeaus



Not Whistler, not Squamish but not bad at all.

Where is it? Two hours north of Vancouver.

What’s the town like? With Whistler prices going through the roof and nearby Squamish following in step, Pemberton is the way to go. About 30km north of Whistler and another hour and a half on to Vancouver it is close enough to the big smoke without being consumed by it. A village of only a few thousand it is cute and personable and still quite affordable.

Real Estate: Modern three bedroom townhouses in th mid $400k range. FULL LISTINGS

What’s the ski resort? Whistler. You know what you’re getting, don’t you? Plenty big and plenty of everything, it is Canada’s mega resort which is now owned by the Vail Group. Pros and cons abound but if you like your hill close to civilisation and with all the bells this is your place.

Rating: 4 Trudeaus



Revelstoke – does get some snow.

Where is it? South-eastern BC. A good six hours from Vancouver and 4.5 hours from Calgary.

What’s the town like? Isolated. But if America is about to implode that may be a good thing eh? Population of around 7,000. It was a town well before being a ski resort so it is the real deal. Popular with the hard core set, jobs can however be a little hard to come by.

Real Estate: Modern three bedroom townhouses in th mid $400k range. FULL LISTINGS

What’s the ski resort? Revelstoke. Only a decade old, Revelstoke isn’t fully formed as a ski area yet but what’s there is impressive. Huge vert, big snow – it is just a little thin on lifts at the moment (a gondola and two quads). Amazing touring but not huge on grooming or for beginners.

Rating: 4 Trudeaus


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