Small town of Russell, Ont., ranked 3rd best place to live in Canada

MoneySense just released its annual list of the best places to live in Canada — based on criteria such as affordability and liveability — and a town east of Ottawa landed high on the list.

Ranking no surprise for former mayor Calvin Pol

Are you surprised Russell, Ont., is considered the third best place to live in Canada? One of the town's municipal councillors — who's also a former mayor — isn't. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Ottawa used to be considered the best place to live in Canada, according to MoneySense magazine, but it's been knocked down to second by Oakville, Ont.

And coming in at third place? The small town of Russell, Ont.​, east of Ottawa.

MoneySense just released its annual list of the top places to live in Canada — based on criteria such as affordability and liveability — and, perhaps to the surprise of many, Russell landed high on the list. 

The ranking isn't a surprise to Calvin Pol, a municipal councillor, former mayor and longtime resident of Russell.

Pol told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning that he moved to Russell from Orléans almost 30 years ago and hasn't looked back.

'A nice country feel'

"It's a real family community. It's just outside of Ottawa," he said. "It's a great place away from the busy cities … [has] kind of a nice country feel to it."

Pol added the town is about 50 per cent anglophone and 50 per cent francophone, with a lot of people working for the federal government and commuting to Ottawa.

High income levels in Russell combined with affordable housing means there's a high quality of life for residents. 

He estimated the cost of buying a single family home would be somewhere in the $350,000 to $360,000 range. 

"My daughter just moved back from Hamilton, and there the prices have just gone through the roof … They decided to move to Embrun [in Russell township] just because the cost of housing here is much cheaper than places like Hamilton, Toronto, elsewhere," said Pol.

'There's not really a negative'

There are plenty of schools — nine in total in the community, Pol said — so kids don't need to take the bus every day. They also have plenty to do, with a sports dome and several arenas. 

Crime is also low, he said. The only recent crime he's heard of was someone going through a four-way stop and getting pulled over — and that was his nephew, Pol said with a laugh. 

Although some might consider the commute to Ottawa a negative, it isn't for Pol. He said the commute isn't too bad and there's a bus service that also runs to the big city. 

"There's not really a negative. It's a great place to live and raise a family. The support of the community here is fantastic," he said.

"[It's] family-oriented, that's what we moved out here for. Now my children are having children here."