My first instinct was Matrix. The Vibe is, as far as I know, just a Matrix with a different interior and exterior. The powertrain and chassis are more or less the same. You might like the Matrix's interior a bit better. I think both the Matrix and Vibe come with All-wheel-drive, which might be important if you need to confidently get from point A to B through snow.
The Mazda3s in your year/price ragne do have some rust problems, not much you can do about that. They're pretty fun cars but overall not what you're looking for.
Do you still have Suzuki in Canada? Their SX4 is a truly great car, that I used to own. Some models come with a solid, part-time all-wheel-drive system, plus fun handling, power, and performance, and plenty of space. However, only downside is gas mileage, not too great vs. competitors.
I think you Canadians also had the Honda Civic SiR, which was a hatchback, if I recall.
Other options are the Nissan Versa, Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent. All OK cars - not as solid, robust, and reliable as the ones mentioned above but they'll end up being cheaper since they don't have that premium attached.