No country is exempt from crime. Despite being among the safest countries in the world, Canada, with its vibrant cities and historical charm, has its fair share of violent crime.
The country uses a system called the Crime Severity Index (CSI) that measures the volume and severity of crimes reported by police. The crime index allows us to learn which Canadian cities are the most dangerous for a safer travel experience.
We’ll outline such cities and highlight what makes them treacherous.
Most Dangerous Cities in Canada?
This list was compiled using the most recent published data from Maclean’s: Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2020.
Their methodology and focus on urban centers with populations of 10,000 or more align better with tourist travel expectations. It also allows us to compare specific crime categories and their severity.
Lists online will not reflect the situation of Canadian cities in 2023, as data takes time to be published. Still, crime statistics in the following cities may change a little over time, so exercise caution and always be aware of the challenges you may face as a tourist when visiting these places.
Canada Crime Index provides a more up-to-date yet convoluted list (2021). Click here to access it.
1. North Battleford, Saskatchewan
Many Canadian outlets view North Battleford as the most dangerous city in Canada.
The city had the highest crime rate in the country in 2019, with a crime severity index of 385. The Canadian average was 75.01. It has some of the highest violent crime rates, sexual assault, and property-related and firearm offences.
This is partly due to the high poverty rate the city struggles with; the child poverty rate hung around 28% in 2019.
Combined with the high poverty and unemployment rates, the lack of resources and opportunities makes many residents of North Battleford feel hopeless. For some, drugs and violent crimes are a manner of self-expression and an income source.
Still, the city is trying its best to better its situation. Its more social approach to the pressing issues is helping improve the well-being of its residents.
2. Thompson, Manitoba
Thompson has a population of about 14,000. The violent crime severity index was 570 in 2019, the highest in the country. The national average was 82.44.
Some of the most commonly reported crimes include sexual and aggravated assault, particularly stabbings and firearm offenses. They’re also among the highest nationwide.
Maclean’s Magazine ranked it as Canada’s most violent city for three years consecutively and highlighted how some kids stab passersby for no evident reason. It also has a notorious unsolved cold case of the rape and murder of Kerrie Ann Brown in 1986.
Thompson also has its fair share of drug-related crimes, theft, and drunk driving. Notably, the city struggles with a cocaine issue. Cocaine trafficking or production was at a rate of 650.36 per 100,000 population in 2019. The nationwide average was 20.03.
Citizens of Thompson complain about the justice system’s long delays and inadequate facilities as well.
3. Quesnel, British Columbia
Quesnel is a small community in the Cariboo region of British Columbia known for its rich history and natural beauty. Sadly, the city struggles with a consequential crime problem. Its violent crime rate puts it among the top 10 most dangerous places.
Despite its crime rates showing a positive trend in 2021 (especially property-related crimes), tourists and residents are still victims of assault, fraud, and breaking and entering.
Among the most harrowing crimes in Quesnel is the murder of Louis Korkowski in 2020, which led to the arrest of two suspects and a manhunt for a third one.
While traveling there, ensure safeguarding your property and avoiding dangerous neighborhoods: vandalism, theft, and drug-related issues are common occurrences.
4. Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Wetaskiwin has a rich heritage of Indigenous, European, and Scandinavian influences. It’s also home to several museums, such as the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, and is known for its slogan, “Cars cost less in Wetaskiwin.” In short, the city has everything a tourist hotspot needs.
Unfortunately, widespread violent and petty crimes make it one of Canada’s most dangerous cities. The city is held back by one of the highest theft and property crime rates. Breaking and entering crimes and fraud crossed double the national average in 2019.
The city has also seen horrible crimes like sexual assault, homicide, and arson. The sexual assault of a girl by four young men in 2020 near the city hall was among the most harrowing crimes that took place in the city that year.
5. Portage la Prairie, Manitoba
Portage la Prairie’s sunny days, fertile lands, and vibrant cultural scene make it an attractive city to tourists looking to escape the stress of daily life. Sadly, its criminal activity pushes potential visitors away; the city ranked 3rd in violent crime in 2019.
The city struggles with increasing rates of sexual assault and property theft. There’s a 1 in 7 chance of becoming a victim of crime in Portage la Prairie according to Area Vibes. What’s worse, none of the locals think that the city is safe at night.
6. Prince Albert and area, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert, named after Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, is a regional center for education, health care, culture, and commerce.
However, despite its modern amenities and natural beauty, violent crime increased by 56% from 2021 to 2022, showing that pressing social issues are still plaguing the city. The police service responded to 760 mental health incidents in 2022.
The city struggles with gang-related crime. The police service said that gang activity was responsible for a large number of the violent crime calls they responded to. They included armed robberies, firearm offenses, and trafficking of controlled substances.
7. Williams Lake, British Columbia
Williams Lake is known for its ranching, forestry, and mining industries. It’s a city in the central interior of British Columbia and is the largest urban center in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.
That said, it’s also known for being one of the most dangerous cities in Canada. It ranked 9th out of the 237 communities in the country in 2019 in terms of violent crime. In 2022, a suspect was arrested after a shooting at the Williams Lake Stampede, an annual event that attracts many visitors.
The city struggles chiefly with drug offenses, especially cocaine trafficking, production, and drug abuse. It also has a problem with sexual assaults; 27 incidents happened in 2019, which is triple the national average.
8. Selkirk, Manitoba
Selkirk is a small city with a depressing crime scene. Located on the Red River and close to Winnipeg, the city’s ~10,000 residents aren’t strangers to violent crimes, chiefly those caused by drug usage.
The city had an assault rate of 1,257.68 incidents per 100,000 people in 2019, nearly triple the country’s average. It also has serious drug usage problems, especially among college students. The rate of controlled drug-related crimes reached 245.86 per 100,000 people in 2019—seven times the national average.
Sexual assault, fraud, and property theft are also common occurrences.
9. Grand Prairie, Alberta
Serving as the regional economic and cultural hub and hosting a population of around 67,000, Grande Prairie is among the few major cities in Alberta.
The city ranked 9th in the crime severity index, primarily due to its high rates of non-violent crime: impaired driving, at a 954.01 per 100,000 population rate, and cocaine trafficking and production, at a rate of 147.57 per 100,000 population.
The city doesn’t see homicides as much as its neighbors, but assaults, both armed and sexual, still occur at a concerning level.
10. Red Deer, Alberta
Maclean’s ranked Red Deer as the 10th most dangerous place in Canada with a crime severity index of 170.
While murder is rare, Red Deer sees some serious assault incidents, particularly those involving firearms. The latter saw a 21.05 per 100,000 population rate in 2019, almost triple the nationwide average.
The silver lining is that Red Deer is seeing a positive trend in crime rate, with the crime index seeing a significant drop; the city ranked 2nd back in 2017.
11. Terrace, British Columbia
Terrace is a small city located about 140 kilometers east of Prince Rupert. Despite its fishing, forestry, and tourism industries attracting tourists from all over the country, the grim crime scene is a concerning deterrent.
While homicides aren’t as frequent as in other cities in the province, Terrace has a problem with assault, property theft, and fraud. In 2019, one homicide, two firearm offenses, 22 sexual assaults, and 187 assault incidents were reported to the police.
Chiefly, the city struggles with drugs and related crimes, especially crack, cocaine, and fentanyl.
12. Lloydminster, Saskatchewan and Alberta
Lloydminster’s violent crime rate doesn’t stand out among other cities on this list, but drug use and strings of overdoses are consuming the city.
Cocaine trafficking and production was at a rate of 144.03 per 100,000 people in 2019—seven times the national average. The production and trafficking of other drugs is significantly higher—three times Canada’s average—than in other cities.
Violent crime isn’t nonexistent, though. Wherever hard drugs are involved, serious offenses follow. Assaults, robberies, and homicides are frequent, but drug dealing takes the cake in Lloydminster.
Canada is huge, and while most of its cities are rated high in terms of the safety index, much is left to be desired when you look at places stricken with high percentages of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness.
People resort to drugs, violence, and theft to provide for and express themselves in such places. While the cities we presented above are rich in cultural heritage and tourist attractions, they’re among the most dangerous places in Canada. Exercise caution if you visit them!