Is it time for a second migration outside Toronto? Try Peterborough or North Bay

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Photo by Earl Andrew

Considering a second migration outside Toronto? Here are a few settlement options.

Peterborough is one example of a municipality that is benefiting from secondary migration.

Karma Phuntshok, a former Tibetan monk, immigrated to Toronto with his pregnant wife from New York in 1999. After a short stay in the Canadian city, Phuntshok decided that Toronto, like New York, was far too large a city to raise a child in.

At the suggestion of his friends, Phuntshok ended up just northeast of Toronto in Peterborough. Phuntshok immediately began looking for work and soon found employment in the city. He also started taking English as a Second Language classes and began putting down roots for his family, including purchasing a home. His next step was fulfilling his longtime dream of opening a successful South Asian and Himalayan restaurant, Karma’s Café, in 2004.

If you ask Phuntshok about Peterborough today, he’ll say that he “loves it here. Peterborough has the best services, restaurants, art and music for the size.”

It’s also welcoming of newcomers. “Much like our country, we are a city of immigrants who have collectively forged a model of multiculturalism that truly defines and distinguishes the Canadian experience,” says Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. Newcomers relocating to Peterborough benefit from a slower pace of life, and a safe environment to raise children. Peterborough provides essential services, while remaining an urban centre in a beautiful natural setting.

It’s not the only city in north of Toronto that is eager to gain newcomers. North Bay, a three-and-a-half-hour drive up north of Toronto, also has its welcome sign out for new immigrants. Newcomers quickly discover that this is a welcoming, vibrant city that, which offers a healthy and balanced environment for working, living and raising a family.

“Bordering two large, freshwater lakes, with a university, college, new regional health centre and one of four 10,000-foot runway airports in Ontario; we have much to offer,” says Tanya Bédard, an economic development officer with the city. “The city recognized immigration efforts as a priority in 2006 when it launched the North Bay Newcomer Network.” It endorsed the establishment of an immigrant settlement agency and the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre, which moved to a prominent Main Street location in March in celebration of its fifth anniversary.

The region of Northwestern Ontario, including its main urban centre of Thunder Bay, is also eager to attract newcomers to the area, which has been voted the most affordable urban centre to live in the world.

Education and training

Peterborough has two post-secondary institutions, Trent University and Fleming College, both of which have renowned programs for international students. It also has the new Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre. In North Bay, post-secondary choices include Nipissing University and Canadore College. In Northwestern Ontario, there are three choices: Confederation College, Lakehead University and Northern Ontario School of Medicine.


Culture and leisure

While cities north of Toronto are slower paced and perfect for raising families, that doesn’t mean they are devoid of cultural and leisure attractions. While nature offers many leisure activities from hiking to boating to skiing, the cities of Peterborough and North Bay also offer plenty of shopping, dining and more, including thriving arts and sporting scenes. The City of Thunder Bay was declared a “Cultural Capital of Canada” in 2003, thanks to the many cultural centres representing the diverse population, such as the Finnish Labour Temple, Scandinavia House, the Italian Cultural Centre, the Polish Legion and others.


Economy and employment

There are growing employment opportunities north of Toronto as well. Cities such as Peterborough and North Bay are welcoming newcomers to help grow their local economies, whether as entrepreneurs, small business owners or employees in key industries.

Peterborough is one of Canada’s leading advanced manufacturing communities, with an expanding aerospace and aviation sector and a growing research and development sector.

Leading industries in North Bay include mining and health. Through its ongoing recruitment efforts, the City of North Bay is working with Professions North, an initiative that assists internationally trained professionals in Ontario in reaching their career goals by bridging the gap between education, experience, culture and employment. This partnership acts as an additional resource to help fill jobs in health, mining and government sectors as well as skilled tradespeople in a number of other industries.

A similar partnership with is a confidential, online matching tool that will help skilled candidates seeking employment with employers in the region who are looking to hire.

Other hot industries and jobs in Northwestern Ontario include health care, mining, IT, welding and carpentry

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