How to Survive a Canadian Winter

Those who know me are aware that this is a comical subject for me to address; It’s actually a wonder that I’ve  survive a Canadian winter at all! Our first year involved numerous experimental tactics which were hindered by the fact that 2007 was recognized as one of the worst winters on recent record. I spent many frozen mornings digging out car wheels from snow banks in open-toed flats, a goofy t-shirt and a thin coat – second year followed a similar trend. Every year since, I have vowed to improve my wardrobe choices and even actively try to gain weight but I found myself lacking conviction. Thankfully, the last two years have consisted of warmer conditions with fewer blackouts and blizzards but despite the initial sense of achievement, I almost feel short changed. Where is the picturesque snow scene that I had (strangely) become accustomed to, the one with the sense of magic and comfort? Well, this year it is expected to return: How shall one prepare themselves?

Year One- an interesting experience

1. Buy Long Johns
As humiliating and itchy as underclothes may have seemed during childhood, I now greet them as old friends. Often do I rise in the early hours of the dark months to pull trousers over the top of my pajama bottoms. This is not (just) a lazy attitude but also an action performed out of necessity; it is easy to warm your torsos with a coat or scarf but legs are left to themselves. I’m told that a pair of thermal Long Johns are tailored specifically to solve that problem. Why I ever hesitated is beyond me – these are my dreams, fabricated in fabric!

2. Get a loved one to knit something homemade, or knit it yourself
Over the years, I’ve asked  my mother to knit me a few different scarves so I have a variety to chose from during Canada’s six consecutive cold months  Not only do these particular woolies keep me physically warm but also, mentally. In fear of sounding as slushy as March snow, the thought that someone took the time and effort to weave a creation with your comfort in mind is warming in itself. It’s as if they’re there, sheltering you from the blinding wind so you never have to face the cold alone.

3. Drink tea on the go
…or coffee or a latte or any kind of warm beverage. I suppose this is just my life philosophy for every moment, of every day, of every season, whether on the go or not.

4. Embrace the season
I have never hidden the fact that I hate the cold, to the point where I am often compared to a lizard who requires the sun’s rays for energy. However, hibernation is sadly not an option in the human world (if only!) so the show must go on!  Watching festive movies or going for winter walks can help pass the time until the flowers of spring. For the braver souls, snow shoeing, ice fishing, skiing  or skating can satisfy those adventurous urges. Make a date of it; Teach yourself and your old habits that once sufficiently wrapped in enough layers, winter fun can equal that of even summer fun.

American Falls in winter, one of the coldest days yet

When my friends and family in England complain about the weather being too cold, I laugh. Although I was in fact higher in latitude to where I now reside, the climatic situations can hardly be compared. Ok, so maybe England exhibits a different kind of cold – a cold so damp that it chills right to the bone – but it isn’t literally a stinging cold, where your fingers feel as if they’ll drop off on contact. I suppose as an experience enthusiast, I should see the Great Canadian Winter as a blessing. There are plenty more festive options at my fingertips now, if only I could feel them.


7 comments to “How to Survive a Canadian Winter”
  1. Oh I remember winter 2007: it was brutal! I had never seen so much snow before, we were literally trapped at home one weekend.

    I like Canadian winters better than European winters though. It’s still sunny here, and less damp overall. As long as you dress for it, it can be a great season… just a tad too long!

  2. Ha! love it. Open toed shoes etc!

    I lived in Edmonton for 2 years and – oh my goodness! – I had never been a) so cold and b) so warm in the winter! Luckily I had ‘The Canadian’ to teach me a few things about winter and he insisted I buy a winter coat and proper snow boots. Still, the dry cold was nasty but I still insist that England has colder winters. It makes me shudder to think of the British winters, even though I am sat waiting for my second Ontarian winter to roll around.

    I would never tell friends and family at home about this and I am also quite convinced that I will change my tune when winter actually arrives.

    • It’s always fun to play up the snow-factor to those otherwise inexperienced with Canadian winters (aka friends and family at home) but then again, I’d only seen a heavy snowfall twice prior to the move.

      I’ve come a long way since then but I still feel like I have a long way to go before I can confidently stare down Old Man Winter.

    • Oh, 2013 was terrible! It’s not so much that it was the coldest, or the snowiest, but it was certainly the longest!

      That’s a huge peeve of mine: the sheer length of the winters eats into the spring months!

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