6 great places to live

Check out these Ontario regions for the second half of your life.

1. COBOURG: A real gem

Cobourg is a community that projects the feel of a small yet sophisticated town, making it an appealing retirement destination. Located just far enough away from Toronto to escape the sprawl, congestion and pollution, this city of 17,000 is characterized by early 19th-century architecture, massive sandy beaches and wonderful gardens. These features fit nicely with city-style shopping and dining in downtown Cobourg, confirming its billing as the Gem of Lake Ontario.

Golfers can take advantage of the area’s fine courses while sailing enthusiasts will enjoy excellent marina facilities and Yacht Club. Offshore, there’s ample opportunity to windsurf, canoe or kayak. Inland, the quiet tree-lined walkways and spectacular waterfront are perfect getaways for walkers, hikers and cyclists.

Victoria Hall, the city’s most notable structure, is the centre for Cobourg Arts. It’s the site of the Vintage Film Festival, which celebrates pre-1940s films including the work of Cobourg silent film actress Marie Dressler. Victoria Hall is also home to the Art Gallery of Northumberland as well as various musical and theatrical productions. Summer brings the Cobourg Waterfront Festival, which draws artists and craftspeople from across the country.

2. COLLINGWOOD: Four seasons of fun

This gem of a city, a two-hour drive north of Toronto, draws those who seek small-town charm along with some of the best recreation opportunities in all of Ontario. And people are starting to discover the area’s attractions – the town has almost doubled in size over the last 20 years, reaching a comfortable 21,000. As the town has grown, so too has its cultural, shopping and dining experiences, with sophisticated restaurants, distinctive shopping, jazz in the park as well as other cultural offerings.

Beautifully situated on the southern shores of Georgian Bay, Collingwood is close to the stunning Blue Mountains on the Niagara Escarpment, as well as Wasaga Beach, one of longest freshwater beaches in Canada.

Once you get there, you’ll understand why the area is referred to as a four-season playground. Spring is fishing season, as anglers try to land a speckled or rainbow trout in the Beaver River. In summer, the area offers unlimited access to warm-weather pastimes – sailing, fishing, camping, swimming, scuba diving, hiking, biking and eight golf courses. Fall brings crisp air and beautiful colours as the leaves change. These are best viewed along the magnificent walking, biking and hiking trails. In winter, Blue Mountain offers numerous slopes for downhill skiers. Plus, there are numerous cross-county ski and snowmobile trails.

3. ELLIOT LAKE: Escape up north

This once thriving mining town fell on hard times in the 1980s, when the resources dried up and the big companies moved out. Facing disaster, Elliot Lake went to great lengths to reposition itself as a retirement community, offering very affordable housing and great outdoor opportunities for retirees who enjoy a rugged environment. The far-sighted move completely rejuvenated this scenic north Ontario community of 14,000 to such an extent that the formerly known Uranium Capital of the World is now marketed as the Jewel in the Wilderness.

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