I agree with what you say, but for pure culture I'd choose Montreal as one of the nicest work/live places to live in Canada. The OP is coming from California, so from a weather and lifestyle perspective Vancouver is probably the best. From a city perspective Toronto probably is most like LA with respect to bland architecture, urban sprawl and gridlocked freeways.
Of all the cities in Canada I've been to I'd consider living in choose in order;
1)Toronto -- Hometown bias probably, but I truly love the city, it's multicultural vibrancy and the economic prospects for people with many types of business background also it doesn't get as cold as many other Canadian cities, downside, boring architecture, traffic, urban sprawl.
2) Montreal -- Awesome nightlife, beautiful European style city good opportunities for many different employment options, downside, very cold winters, craziest drivers in Canada, you should speak or learn French to get the most out of it.
3) Vancouver -- warmest major city in Canada in the winter, awesome mountain views, west coast lifestyle, downside lots of rain and gray skies in certain parts of the year can be depressing to people used to sunshine, housing really expensive.
4) Ottawa --Stable economy, tech and government related jobs are the best opportunities. Downside, as cold as Montreal but not as fun
5) Calgary -- Huge economic strength, low taxes, close to mountains, lots of blue skies, weather in winter can vary from -30c one day to +10 the next due to chinook winds bringing warm pacific air, but generally cold in winter , downsides, economy, too exposed to oil and gas industry, still feels like a small town, too many pickup trucks
I won't comment on cities I wouldn't live in or haven't spent enough time to evaluate other than to say Atlantic Canada seems to be a nice place to live people are tremendously kind and friendly, cheap real estate, interesting roads to drive, but economically not very vibrant (though this may be changing)
Politically and socially Alberta is a pretty Republican Conservative style part of Canada much of the rest of Canada is pretty liberal (in the US sense of the word).
Canada is generally quite accepting of people of different cultures and races. Crime is pretty low, social equality (and taxation) are higher than the US.
We are stricter on gun ownership than countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo and the US, but you can have one if you prove you are not an idiot.
If you want to start a conversation with a Canadian stranger talk about the weather, it always seems to be too hot, or too cold for any Canadian, if it happens to be a nice day say "nice day eh?" with a surprised tone.
Start studying hockey now! If you don't understand the game you will only be able to discuss the weather with your friends from September to June.