Research on American secondary cities has largely focused on so‐called “rust belt” cities and has found that they tend to have economic stagnation, racialization, and urban decay in their urban cores occurring after economic crises. Most urban research on Canadian cities has, by contrast, focused on the country's largest cities, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, and has found that urban cores are getting richer, less diverse, and undergoing infrastructural improvements. We examine each model by looking at four secondary Atlantic Canadian cities (Halifax, Moncton, St. John's, and Charlottetown) that all faced major economic crisis in the 1990s to see whether these models can explain the sociospatial changes occurring in them. Analysis of 1996 and 2006 Canadian Census data finds unlike “rust belt” cities or changes seen in larger Canadian cities, there is no clear sociospatial concentration of change. Rather, change is seen through “hot spots” of economic and physical characteristics of neighborhoods.