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  #61  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 2:02 PM
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Originally Posted by esquire View Post
Those often-cited exceptions are pretty rare in the big picture. For every Nelson, BC or Fogo Island, NL you have probably over a hundred nondescript small towns like Kindersley, SK or Armstrong, ON.
I'm a little bit curious what constitutes a "sophisticated" small town, as it seems one's idea as to what being sophisticated means is rather subjective. I don't think being a small town precludes it from having traits of "sophistication" Conversely I don't think being a large city necessarily makes it any more sophisticated than small towns are. Is, say, Kelowna more sophisticated than Edmonton ? I'd say you could definitely find ways to argue that. Is Nelson more sophisticated than Vancouver ? I'd say probably not, but as anyone who's been to Nelson knows (I lived there for two years) there are aspects of that city that certainly makes it more lively, dynamic and unique.

I think a lot of the time, a town or city's surrounding natural environment is more of a driver of "sophistication" than the town or city itself
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  #62  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 4:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
It seems to me that the main contributing factors are:

Capital city status
A tourist destination
An artists' colony
Having a university

Or any combination of these.
This is a large part of what makes a sophisticated small town - no question.

There are other factors though, and mostly this has to do with whether or not a town has a healthy economy and a strongly held sense of place.

Sussex NB strikes me as such. It is not a capital city (like Fredericton), it is not a tourist destination or artists colony (like Saint Andrews by-the-Sea) and it isn't really a university town like Sackville (although it is home to Kingswood University, a very small Wesleyan seminary).

Sussex however has a robust economy, based on a long agricultural history, natural gas and being a regional services center - an economy robust enough to allow the town to survive the recent potentially devastating closure of the local potash mine. Sussex has a strong sense of place, based on being in a very scenic agricultural valley, surrounded by sizeable hills (including a popular ski hill) and a favourable location smack in the middle of the triangle between NB's three major cities.

Because of it's location and strong economy, Sussex is able to retain it's young people, giving it a vitality missing in a lot of other similar sized small towns (regional about 8,000 people). This vitality allows the community to retain a sense of optimism rather than hopelessness and despair. Because of this optimism, entrepreneurs feels confident enough to open new small businesses including interesting shops and eateries.

So, in addition to the factors Acajack enumerated, I would like to add:

1) - location
2) - sense of place and community
3) - optimism and pride
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  #63  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 4:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MonctonRad View Post
This is a large part of what makes a sophisticated small town - no question.

There are other factors though, and mostly this has to do with whether or not a town has a healthy economy and a strongly held sense of place.

Sussex NB strikes me as such. It is not a capital city (like Fredericton), it is not a tourist destination or artists colony (like Saint Andrews by-the-Sea) and it isn't really a university town like Sackville (although it is home to Kingswood University, a very small Wesleyan seminary).

Sussex however has a robust economy, based on a long agricultural history, natural gas and being a regional services center - an economy robust enough to allow the town to survive the recent potentially devastating closure of the local potash mine. Sussex has a strong sense of place, based on being in a very scenic agricultural valley, surrounded by sizeable hills (including a popular ski hill) and a favourable location smack in the middle of the triangle between NB's three major cities.

Because of it's location and strong economy, Sussex is able to retain it's young people, giving it a vitality missing in a lot of other similar sized small towns (regional about 8,000 people). This vitality allows the community to retain a sense of optimism rather than hopelessness and despair. Because of this optimism, entrepreneurs feels confident enough to open new small businesses including interesting shops and eateries.

So, in addition to the factors Acajack enumerated, I would like to add:

1) - location
2) - sense of place and community
3) - optimism and pride
Agreed.

As I've mentioned before on other threads, Caraquet in NE NB is also like this.

It has no university for example, but it does serve a number of functions for Acadians both in the immediate region and beyond, and as such punches above its weight relative to its size.

Over 30% of its residents have university degrees I believe.
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Last edited by Acajack; Oct 17, 2018 at 4:59 PM.
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  #64  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 4:52 PM
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Sense of place is a big one for me. Gimli and Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba are good examples. WB is cute, touristy, generic. It's sophisticated in that most people you see there are from the city. Really nice sense of place - you know exactly where you are and why. Gimli is a bit more interesting, heavily Icelandic, has more actual locals and caters to them a bit as well. I'd say it's more sophisticated primarily because it has a stronger sense of place.
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  #65  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 4:55 PM
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I grew up in Vernon BC. When I left the population was about 20000ish (maybe a bit more). I went to Victoria from there which is significantly larger (by more than 10 times).

I experienced absolutely zero culture shock.

That was my experience. For me, Victoria was no better, no worse. Just a different place to live.
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  #66  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 5:50 PM
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From my experience it doesn't really matter the size of the town but more it's remoteness that dictates it's sophistication. There are a slew of tiny towns dotted across southern and central Ontario that have plenty of sophistication. I feel the second you hit that 3 hr drive threshold away from an urban centre the more rustic they feel.
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  #67  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 5:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MonctonRad View Post
This is a large part of what makes a sophisticated small town - no question.

Sussex NB strikes me as such. It is not a capital city (like Fredericton), it is not a tourist destination or artists colony (like Saint Andrews by-the-Sea) and it isn't really a university town like Sackville (although it is home to Kingswood University, a very small Wesleyan seminary).

1) - location
2) - sense of place and community
3) - optimism and pride

Woodstock NB, and Grand Falls NB both seem to have similar strengths in many ways. (I know less about Grand Falls but it seems as strong as Woodstock is). Sure both towns have taken blows and are somewhat struggling; but I know Woodstock is managing to stay stable for the most part, being on the edge of NB's growth zone basically. It has a strong sense of community and history, and is the central hub for the rural counties around it; a strong tourist aspect due to the beauty of the valley, and being the hub of two major highways (transportation is one of its major industries).

I think Sussex is doing better than Woodstock, but Woodstock does feel like it is holding its own.
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  #68  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 6:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
From my experience it doesn't really matter the size of the town but more it's remoteness that dictates it's sophistication. There are a slew of tiny towns dotted across southern and central Ontario that have plenty of sophistication. I feel the second you hit that 3 hr drive threshold away from an urban centre the more rustic they feel.
At a certain point that starts to reverse... when you get up to the more remote parts, towns and small cities start to feel bigger and more important. For instance, a place like Thompson, Manitoba would be a pretty forgettable minor town in southern Manitoba, but in the north it's home to a lot of fairly important regional offices and things that less remote communities of a similar size don't always have.
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  #69  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 6:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Metro-One View Post
A couple other noteworthy towns in the mountainous interior of BC would be Revelstoke and Rossland. There are not quite to the level of Nelson, but they are close.

Another one would be Trail, but it is harder to categorize.

Essentially the Columbia / Kootenays region of the BC interior has the most "classic" yet sophisticated small towns in BC (western Canada?)
I spent a day in Revelstoke this summer, it very much felt like it has the bones of a Nelson, but just hadn't yet reached that level.
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  #70  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 6:26 PM
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Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
From my experience it doesn't really matter the size of the town but more it's remoteness that dictates it's sophistication. There are a slew of tiny towns dotted across southern and central Ontario that have plenty of sophistication. I feel the second you hit that 3 hr drive threshold away from an urban centre the more rustic they feel.
That makes sense as many small town close to large centers are populated by people who work and play in those larger cities.
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  #71  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 9:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TorontoDrew View Post
From my experience it doesn't really matter the size of the town but more it's remoteness that dictates it's sophistication. There are a slew of tiny towns dotted across southern and central Ontario that have plenty of sophistication. I feel the second you hit that 3 hr drive threshold away from an urban centre the more rustic they feel.
Probably because the towns are mainly dependent on resource-based industries. (logging, mining, etc.) At least if you look at Northern Ontario compared when heading North from the GTA. The cities here though are also very service-based.

But I do have to add that rural Northern Ontarians are quite different than rural Southern Ontarians. More isolation in the North.
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  #72  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 9:16 PM
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A town I can think of that is sophisticated but not very touristy is Deep River, ON. There are a number of people highly educated people who work for the nuclear laboratories in nearby Chalk River. It's the smallest community in Canada with a full symphony orchestra. Also has some well known festivals and lots of recreation.

It's a two hour drive to Ottawa so it's fairly close to a large city but not extremely close.
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  #73  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 9:52 PM
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Originally Posted by DizzyEdge View Post
I spent a day in Revelstoke this summer, it very much felt like it has the bones of a Nelson, but just hadn't yet reached that level.
I would add Fernie and Tofino in with Rossland and Revelstoke.
The only thing sophisticated about Trail is the university taught residents working for Teck. Otherwise it's Sudbury on the Columbia.
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  #74  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2018, 1:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Loco101 View Post
A town I can think of that is sophisticated but not very touristy is Deep River, ON. There are a number of people highly educated people who work for the nuclear laboratories in nearby Chalk River. It's the smallest community in Canada with a full symphony orchestra. Also has some well known festivals and lots of recreation.

It's a two hour drive to Ottawa so it's fairly close to a large city but not extremely close.
A place like that is an extreme outlier, though... Manitoba had the same thing in Pinawa with its AECL research facilities. Basically a town full of scientists... not really the typical scenario by any stretch.
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  #75  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2018, 1:45 PM
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Originally Posted by esquire View Post
A place like that is an extreme outlier, though... Manitoba had the same thing in Pinawa with its AECL research facilities. Basically a town full of scientists... not really the typical scenario by any stretch.
Deep River is indeed an unusual place.
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  #76  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2018, 1:50 PM
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There were a surprising number of people in my undergrad from Deep River, which maybe shouldn't be surprising as I did engineering in Ottawa. It's a very interesting place, but unfortunately may be past its heyday. Sounds like there aren't the same staffing requirements for these types of jobs as in the past. Of those I knew I'm fairly certain nobody has moved back.
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