The Winter season in Canada can be very harsh and long. With temperatures reaching as low as minus 20 degrees during the winter season in Canada it is cold. However, with a little planning ahead and a few new clothes, you will find that you can be comfortable with these temperatures. More good news is that your home will have central heating, making it warm and cosy throughout the winter. The same is true of nearly every indoor space, so you will not have to spend too long in the cold if you don’t want to.
Canadians are a resilient group of people, and they have found ways to adapt to the cold of their winter. Many new cars have self-starters so that in the morning, you can start your car from the warmth of your living room, wait for it to warm up, and then hop into your car just a short walk from your front door.
For a lot of new, inexperienced Canadian immigrants, it’s important to get winter-ready by investing in good winter clothing. The most important and basic winter clothing every immigrant needs to have handy is a reliable body-sized water-resistant coat that is meant for withstanding negative temperatures. Never compromise on the quality of a winter coat. Even if it is slightly pricey, it’s still worth an investment. The other essential winter clothing you will need is snow boots, a pair of mittens and a winter hat which will greatly help in staying warm against the wind chills.
Canada is perhaps one of the very few countries that go through the cycle of extreme weather conditions. On the one hand, there is a harsh cold winter season, and on the other, it has the most beautiful spring and summer season ever. The average temperatures in the winter can vary across Canada depending on the location, which also creates an impressive diversity of the weather conditions. For example, in provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba the average daily temperature can be anywhere between -15 degrees C and as low as -40 degrees C. Whereas British Columbia enjoys a relatively mild and rainy winter where the temperature rarely drops below the freezing point. Even though the winter season comprises of December, January, and February, sometimes it can stretch until March depending on the severity in the temperatures.
Winter is a huge part of the Canadian culture which reflects in Canadian art, music, literature, lifestyle and sports. As a way of coping positively with the cold weather, there are so many activities you can do. Get to know Canada’s seasonal celebrations by taking part in the winter events like the light festivals such as ‘Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights’ or the ‘Winter Festival of Lights celebrations in Vancouver.’ The ‘Winterlude in Ottawa’ that features the world’s longest rink, ice sculptures, and lots of food and hot drinks is also a great attraction. Take a fun trip with your kids to see the ‘Québec Winter Carnival’ in Québec City. If you like adventure, try to learn skiing or ice skating or go dog-sledging, ice-fishing, etc. If you don’t have the funds or access to the above options, you can try other ways to stay busy by keeping physically active through exercises. Even a ten-minute walk in the sunlight can release and combat the winter stress and help in the overall mental and physical well-being.
So the big question is how to make it through Canada’s winters?
The fact that Canadians don’t hibernate during the winter and get outdoors to experience life is admirable for immigrants like me. It is this very attitude of embracing and identifying with the winter that makes Canadians excel in the field of winter sports like Hockey, ice skating, curling, skiing, snowboarding, etc. The real spirit of merging with the Canadians comes from being open-minded and experiencing the country’s vast culture despite its harsh climatic conditions. As a relatively new immigrant, I am still adjusting to the cold climate one winter at a time.
As an immigrant to Canada, you will probably not have a car in the first little while after you arrive. If you plan on taking public transport in Canada during the winter, you may have to wait at the bus stop in very cold weather. This is when you will need some essential items to help you stay warm.
What You Need to Stay Warm!
1) A Good Winter Jacket
You should wait until you arrive in Canada before you buy your winter jacket, it might be more expensive than the one you can buy in your home country, but it will be much better suited to the weather over here. When looking at winter jackets you should check to see that it is well padded, that it covers your neck, and it has a hood.
Winter jackets in Canada are specifically designed for temperatures below 0 degrees. If you are unsure if a jacket that you are looking at in a store will be suitable for these temperatures, feel free to ask the store clerk.
They will be more than happy to walk you through the various options depending on your needs. Be warned, there are some brand names out there that cost considerably more than other winter jackets that will protect you from the elements just as well. Keep an eye out for cost-savings and discounts, and check online for deals before you buy in-store to get the best possible deal.
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2) Winter Boots
Wearing sneakers or dress shoes in snow or ice can be dangerous as well as very cold. Even though Canada is generally very good about putting salt down onto the sidewalk after a snowstorm or frost, you should be wary of walking outside during the winter if you don’t have the proper foot protection.
By choosing a pair of good quality winter shoes and spending a little more on them, you will see that you save money in the long run. If you want to get some cheap winter boots to last you through the winter, that is fine too, just don’t expect them to last more than one winter. When it comes to winter boots, you really do get what you pay for.
Winter boots do a lot more than provide grip between your feet and the icy and snowy ground. You can lose a lot of heat through your feet, as the ground is so cold. Specially designed winter boots have a thick lining that locks the heat in, while still allowing your feet to breath. A nice thick pair of socks is also very useful for your first winter season in Canada as an immigrant.
To stay warm in Canada, you need to wear the right clothes! Does Andrew look warm enough for -27°C, or is there something missing from his winter wardrobe?
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3) Winter Hat or ‘Toque’
So, you have your winter jacket and your winter shoes, now you need to keep your head warm. You should get ready to buy your very first toque. This is a close-fitting knitted hat, often with a tassel or pom-pom on the crown that protects your head from the wind and cold.
Canadians call it a toque, although it goes by many names around the world. You’ll probably be able to buy one of these from the same store that you get your winter jacket, make sure to get one that covers your ears. They sell winter hats in all shapes, sizes, and colours.
4) Warm Gloves and a Scarf for the Winter Season in Canada
Warm gloves are essential for a cold day in Canada. With temperatures dropping lower than -20 degrees, you need to have gloves that can protect you from the cold if you are spending any time outside.
A scarf or muffler will keep your neck warm, these two small additions to your winter wardrobe can make a huge difference in how comfortable and prepared you are for the winter season in Canada.
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David Singh moved to Canada from India 6 years ago. He loves sharing his experiences with other newcomers to Canada in the hope that they are able to settle here with ease.