One of the most important facts all investors should know about investing is that dividend-paying stocks far outperform non-dividend-paying stocks over the long term. It is for this reason that all long-term investors should own at least one dividend-paying stock, and depending on your age and investment goals, maybe a diversified portfolio full of them. With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the top dividend-paying stocks that you should consider establishing positions in today.

1. Fortis Inc.: 3.45% yield

Fortis Inc. (TSX:FTS) is one of North America’s largest electric and gas utilities companies, and it pays a quarterly dividend of $0.34 per share, or $1.36 per share annually, which gives its stock a very generous 3.45% yield at today’s levels. In addition, the company has increased its annual dividend payment for 42 consecutive years, the record for a public corporation in Canada, and its consistent free cash flow growth could allow this streak to continue for many more years.

2. Whitecap Resources Inc.: 5.05% yield

Whitecap Resources Inc. (TSX:WCP) is one of the largest producers of crude oil and natural gas in Canada, and it pays a monthly dividend of $0.0625 per share, or $0.75 per share annually, which gives its stock a very high 5.05% yield at current levels. There has been speculation that lower commodity prices would force oil and gas producers to reduce their dividends, but Whitecap achieved record earnings, revenue, and production in its fourth quarter ending in December 2014, so I think its dividend is 100% safe for the time being.

3. Canadian Western Bank: 2.8% yield

Canadian Western Bank (TSX:CWB) is the 10th largest bank in Canada in terms of total assets, and it pays a quarterly dividend of $0.21 per share, or $0.84 per share annually, which gives its stock a 2.8% yield at current levels. Although Canadian Western has the lowest yield of the three companies provided in this article, it is important to note that it has increased its dividend nine times since 2010, and it is in the banking industry, which is considered by most to be the most financially stable industry in Canada.

Which of these three dividend stocks belong in your portfolio?

Fortis, Whitecap Resources, and Canadian Western Bank represent three of the top dividend investment opportunities in the market. Foolish investors should take a closer look and consider buying at least one of them today.

Want three more of our TOP dividend stock picks?

These three top stocks have delivered dividends for shareholders for decades (and even centuries!). Check out our special FREE report: "3 Dividend Stocks to Buy and Hold Forever." Click here now to get the full story!


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Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.