Global markets are beginning to unravel and the Canadian economy could be headed for a recession.

With so much uncertainty on the horizon, it is important for young dividend investors to pick market leaders that are well entrenched and have wide competitive moats.

With this thought in mind, I think buy-and-hold investors should consider Telus Corporation (TSX:T)(NYSE:TU), Canadian Utilities Limited (TSX:CU), and Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY)(NYSE:RY).

Telus Corporation

It is easy to see why Telus is Canada’s fastest-growing communications company. Management has dedicated significant resources to ensure Telus provides its clients with a superior level of customer service. By doing so, the company is now reaping the rewards.

Telus has the lowest churn rate in the industry. This is especially important right now as Canadian mobile customers are allowed to walk away from three-year contracts without a penalty.

Happy customers also spend more. Telus said its Q2 year-over-year blended average revenue per user increased for the 18th consecutive quarter.

Telus pays a dividend of $1.68 per share that yields about 3.8%. The company has increased the payout 11 times in the past five years and investors should see that trend continue.

The Canadian telecom industry is dominated by a handful of companies that enjoy very strong barriers to entry. It is unlikely that a big foreign player will invest the billions of dollars needed to come into Canada to compete with the existing players. The market is simply too small to take that risk.

Canadian Utilities

The electricity and natural gas transmission businesses might sound a bit boring, but they offer investors a great way to collect consistent and growing dividends.

Canadian Utilities has increased is distribution every year for more than four decades. That’s one of the best track records in the country, and the outlook suggests the winning streak will continue.

Once a company has pipeline or power transmission infrastructure in place, it is unlikely that a competitor will try to build a second system to serve the same customers. Regardless of the state of the economy, people are always going to need gas or electricity to heat their homes and cook their food. That’s the kind of demand that investors like to see.

Canadian Utilities has increased the dividend by 50% in the past five years and currently pays $1.16 per share for a yield of 3.25%.

Royal Bank

Canada’s largest bank by market value is a financial giant. The company earned a record $2.4 billion in Q2 2015, a 9% increase over the same period a year earlier.

This comes at a time when all the banks are facing economic and competitive headwinds. Royal continues to deliver strong results because it has a diversified revenue stream. Canada contributed 63% of Q2 profits, the U.S. added 19%, and international operations filled in the remaining 18%.

Royal is building its wealth management operations south of the border and investors should see the American division grow in the years to come as the U.S. economy continues its recovery.

The company pays a dividend of $3.08 per share that yields 4%. The stock has been a wonderful builder of wealth for decades, and young investors can simply buy the stock and forget about it until they retire.

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Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.