10 Tips for surviving winter in Canada

The truth is out there

Let’s be honest, winter in Canada can get down right stupid cold. Between the bone chilling temperatures, copious amounts of snow and very little sunlight, you might start to wonder how we manage to live here. The key to surviving the winter is to embrace it.

It’s easy to give up on life when the temperatures reach minus ridiculous. While it might be temping to hide under the covers till spring, that’s not going to make your life easier. The sooner you learn to embrace the weather, the better you’ll fare until spring.

Winter lake louise
Lake Louise

Canadians and the weather

Canadians, even those new to Canada, love to complain, I mean talk, about the weather. I’m pretty sure it’s like an unofficial national sport. It’s too cold, too hot (yes, our summers can get stupid hot), too rainy, not rainy enough. Too much snow. Not enough snow. Pick anything and it will work.

Winter weather and the degree of opinion about it depend on where you live in Canada. If you live anywhere on the east coast, you basically get snowed in. A lot. They even have to shovel snow off their roofs so they don’t cave in. True story. My brother lived in Halifax for a while and he had to do that. But that’s nothing to the bone-chilling temperatures in other parts of the country. Winnipeg, aka Winterpeg, is one of the places you shouldn’t visit in winter. Ever.

winter

Winter, a badge of honour

Living in Canada might seem unbearable to many, but we Canadians take pride in it. We even compete with each other for who has it worse. When it’s -25 outside and you complain, someone else will laugh as it’s -35 where they are.  Toronto in particular gets a lot of fun poked at it. Especially when it snows a lot and the city comes to a halt.

During a storm in 1999, Toronto became the butt of jokes when our mayor decided to call in the army for help. Personally, I had no problem with that. Toronto is Canada’s largest city with more than half of the population being born outside of Canada. That is a lot of people who didn’t grow up with winter, winter driving and snow. Shit will happen.

10 tips for beating the winter blues

So how do we deal with winter, beside the obvious good humour? Here is a list.

1. Catch a game

When the weather outside it frightful, go see a game. Hockey and basketball are huge this time of the year, and Toronto has professional teams that play at home quite a bit. If hockey is your game, check out a Leafs game, although it might cost you a pretty penny. More affordable and in my opinion more fun, is to catch a basketball game and cheer on the Raptors. You might even catch a glimpse of a celebrity or two in the stands.  I’m looking at you Drake.

2. Visit a museum

Museums can be a great source of fun and offer an opportunity to discover something new. From standing galleries to special exhibitions, there is always something to see, do and learn. It gets you out of the house and more importantly, out of the cold. Many venues even host special events and offer discount admission on certain nights. Good fun for the whole family guaranteed.

3. Find a winter sport and play the crap out of it

There is a reason Canada does well in winter Olympics. When you live in a place with this kind of winter, you learn how to play winter sports. Being active outside is not only good for your health, it enables you to go and do something enjoyable. It makes the winter go by quicker and keeps you in better mood. Win, win. Alex and I took up snowboarding, but you can also choose hockey, skiing, snowshoeing, skating as well as many variations of these.

winter
Snowboarding has made winter so much more fun

4. Go see a movie or a show

When the weather is gorgeous outside, you might not want to spend it in a dark movie theatre. That becomes a totally different situation in winter. You want to get out of the cold and forget the crap happening outside for the duration of the movie. Live stage is always a choice too, if you get tired of seeing movies.

5. Get social

There are a lot of bars and restaurants in Canada. Sometimes your best bet is to go out and hang out with others. Be that a bar, restaurant or your friend’s house. Surrounding yourself with people is necessary for sanity. Plus, you can commiserate about the weather together. What could be more fun?

6. Hit up the local mall

Malls aren’t just for shopping, although once January hits the stores bring on the sales to attract shoppers. They are a great option to walk around, hang out with your friends and once again, get out of the house. Sitting home miserable isn’t good for anyone and can lead to depression. No need to be miserable and depressed.

7. Gym

Winter is the perfect time to work off the extra weight gained during the holidays and concentrate on getting that beach body ready for the summer. Many people make hitting the gym a New Year’s resolution, so at least for the winter months you can expect an influx of new members at your nearby gym. Great time to make new friends, improve your health and find a purpose.

8. Catch up on stuff around the house

Get an early start on spring cleaning. There is no better time to finish up those little things around the house you’ve been putting off or hoping to get to. Renovations waiting to be completed? Get ’em done. You can also get rid of clutter and unwanted items now, so when spring comes you’ll be able to go outside and enjoy it.

9. Learn something new

With so many classes available online, it’s a perfect time to pick up a new skill or a hobby. Improve your photography skills, learn how to code or take a writing workshop. Want to learn how to scrapbook? Knit? Speak a new language? Options are limitless and there is no better time to get ahead of the competition.

10. Go somewhere hot

If all else fails, book a trip down south and make your friends jealous with posts of having a drink by the pool or a beach, while they’re freezing their asses off. Make a point of pointing it out too. Bonus points if there is a bad snow storm at home while you’re away. Good test for your friendship.

While we don’t get good deals to European destinations for a weekend getaway, we get decent deals for all inclusive vacations to sunny, hot Caribbean destinations. There is no better way to make the winter go faster than a week in the tropics. Trust me.

Roatan

Bringing it all together

Winter will suck if you let it. Yes, it can get a bit much, but to keep sane you have to go with it. Don’t get me wrong, given the option, I would definitely pick a warmer place to visit.  As my birthday is in January, I’ve used that as an excuse to go somewhere hot in the past. After all, hanging out on the beach is much better than freezing. 🙂

Winter

Do you prefer hot or cold weather? Let me know!


You might also enjoy: Toronto’s hidden gem: Osgoode Hall, Why CN Tower should be on your list of things to do, and Why Toronto should be your next travel destination


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