Immigrating: Go West

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by Dale Sproule

In the 1850’s when the American west was first being settled, an Indiana newspaper ran a famous story called, “Go West, Young Man, and Grow Up with the Country.”

This is still good advice more than 150 years later, since Western Canada has a great deal to offer to people from around the world settling in this country, including more job opportunities and lower living costs. Moving west is a good way to gain Canadian experience and get established financially in your new home.

But this path is not without hazards. Immigrants from Russia and Scandinavia may adapt to harsh Canadian winters easily, but those from warmer climates may find the freezing temperatures almost unbearable. You could feel very isolated from your ethnic community; unable to find the foods you like to eat or anyone to talk to in your first language. Life can be lonely, thousands of miles away from friends and family, but these days – with internet, inexpensive long distance calling and satellite/cable television – you can stay connected. For anyone willing and able to put up with the hardships, moving west may be the perfect way to get your new life started in Canada. The many Canadian towns and cities that would love you to settle in their communities include:

Kamloops, British, Columbia

Between mountain ranges in the rugged BC interior lies the third largest city in B.C. outside of the Lower Mainland; Kamloops is home to about 85,000 people. Snowy in winter and hot and dry in summer, Kamloops is perfect for those who love the wilderness and activities like fishing, skiing and horseback riding. A six hour drive from Vancouver, you may find Kamloops more isolated than most Canadian cities.

Forestry, mining, ranching and agriculture are the foundation of the local economy while new opportunities in industries such as tourism, manufacturing and high tech are growing.

Kamloops Immigrant Services provides a wide range of services to first generation Canadians and newcomers.

With rents for two bedroom apartments ranging from $525 to $700 and house prices starting at about $200,000 for a three bedroom bungalow, living expenses are very affordable.

For more information visit the city of Kamloops home page at

Venture Kamloops at or Kamloops Immigrant Services at

Calgary, Alberta

With almost 1,200,000 people, Calgary is a thriving city with the youngest average population of any major city in Canada. And Calgary has the fourth highest proportion of new immigrants in its total population. Chinese and south Asian are the largest ethnic groups but there are also very large Black, west Asian, Latin American and southeast Asian communities.

Being a major city, housing prices in Calgary are quite high, with detached bungalows starting at about $250,000, condos from $175,000 and rents from $800 and up.

For more information about employment opportunities read “Worker Shortage Crisis in Alberta” and visit the Calgary Economic development website at

Altona, Manitoba

Altona is a pretty town of 10,000 people with lovely homes, beautiful yards and safe streets. The community is proud of its large park with bicycle trails, aquatic water park and state of the art sports facilities. The climate is typical for the prairies – cold, crisp winters and summers with beautiful hot sun and long days for relaxing.

Altona is just a one hour drive from the very multicultural city of Winnipeg and just 6 hours from Minneapolis, Minnesota. An average sized family home in Altona is priced from $105,000. Or you can rent for less than $650 a month.

Main industries include agriculture, farming, processing, printing press, health care, and manufacturing and there are job opportunities available in all those areas and more, especially for truck drivers, high skilled labor, management, plumbers, electricians and small business.

Altona’s South Central Settlement & Employment Services offers a wide range of services. Plus they have people who are willing to walk along side immigrants to help them feel at home and build relationships with people in the community.

For more information, visit the town web site

Windsor, Ontario

If you don’t want to go too far west, consider Windsor – just a four hour drive from Toronto. A very urban city of over 200,000 people, Windsor’s visible minority population is more than 40,000 and growing fast. Being just across the border from Detroit, Michigan, Windsor has large black and Arabic/West Asian communities.

According to David Berger of Deerbrook Realty, the following average prices are current for the Windsor area: detached bungalows for $170,000, 2 bedroom condos for $115,000 and 2 bedroom townhouses for $150,000. Two bedroom apartments rent for $700 a month.

Windsor is known as the “Banana Belt” of Ontario. Winter comes late and spring arrives earlier than many Ontario cities.

According to Laurel Ash, Lead Job Developer/Employment Counselor for the New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence Inc., there are six primary immigrant service providers in the city offering a wide range of programs to meet all newcomers’ needs.

Windsor is a great destination if you’re looking for work in health care, social assistance, manufacturing (skilled trades, management, automotive, technology), hospitality (the gaming and hotel industries) or in the retail sector.

For more information, visit

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