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10 Tips for surviving winter in Canada

Let’s be honest, winter in Canada can get downright 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 Canadian weather is to embrace it.

It’s easy to give up on life when the temperatures reach minus ridiculous. While it might be tempting to hide under the covers until 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.

tips for surviving winter in Canada

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About Canadian 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 either 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 depends on where you live in Canada. If you live anywhere on the east coast, you basically are snowed in. A lot.  Winter in Canada on the east coast means that you have to shovel snow off your roof so it doesn’t cave in. True story. My brother lived in Halifax for a while and he had to do that. However, that is nothing comparing 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. Especially if you’re not a fan of cold weather.

Winter lake louise
canadian flag

Winter in Canada, 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 -25C outside and you complain, someone else will laugh as it’s -35C 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.

When it comes down to it, winter to Canada is what you make of it. People still have to go to work, to school and get groceries. As such, appropriate clothing is what makes cold, winter days bearable. Layering is key. These days technology, especially in fabrics, has come a long way. Waterproof jackets and boots will keep you dry while hats, gloves and appropriate face covering will keep you warm.  You might look like a snowman, but you will be glad you do.

10 tips for surviving winter in Canada

So how do we deal with Canadian weather, besides the obvious good humour? Here is a list.

Catch a game

When the weather outside it frightful, you can still be entertained by being inside. You can always 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.

Visit a museum

Museums can be a great source of fun and offer an opportunity to discover something new especially when you are trying to survive winter in Canada. 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. You can escape the harshness of Canadian weather with a visit around the world. Toronto’s own Royal Ontario Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts from Egypt and China that will take your mind off winter. Many venues also host special events and offer discount admission on certain nights. Good fun for the whole family guaranteed.

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 and skating as well as many variations of these. Winter is Canada becomes a fun activity when you have something to love to do outside in the snow.

winter in Canada


Go see a movie or a show

When the weather is gorgeous outside, you might not want to spend time 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. Add freshly made popcorn and you have yourself a great night out.

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. In addition, you can commiserate about the Canadian weather together. What could be more fun?

Winter in Canada is always better with friends.

Hit up the local mall

Malls are not 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.

Malls also have great dining and entertainment options. You can get your shopping done while you work up some cardio then catch a movie. You can always go for dinner with your family and/or friends after finding those great winter sale deals. Who says you even have to leave the mall?

Hit the 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.

Catch up on stuff around the house

Get an early start on spring-cleaning courtesy of the Canadian weather. 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.

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. Especially if you don’t want to go outside.

Go somewhere hot

If all else fails, the best way to survive winter in Canada is to book a trip down south. 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 snowstorm at home while you’re away. Good test for your friendship.

While we don’t get great 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 water

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.

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10 Tips for surviving winter in Canada | kasiawrites cultural travel

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    11 Jan 2018

    hahahaha stupid cold hahahhahaha

    Mel & Suan
    11 Jan 2018

    Tip 10 sounds good

      11 Jan 2018

      Best one!

    Jennifer | Stewie Overseas
    14 Jan 2018

    Good idea about embracing it. There’s not much you can do about it anyway, and letting it get you down won’t be beneficial. There are still lots of things you can do when it is cold and snowy outside..

      14 Jan 2018

      Absolutely right! How is the winter in Japan?

        Jennifer | Stewie Overseas
        14 Jan 2018

        Winters in Nagoya are warmer than where I’m from in Canada. It’s a reasonable 7 degrees right now, so I can’t complain too much.

          14 Jan 2018

          Wow 7 degrees! Def not like Canada. I never asked which part you were from?

            Jennifer | Stewie Overseas
            14 Jan 2018

            West coast is the best coast 😉

              14 Jan 2018

              Awww I’ve never been to the west coast! 🙈

                Jennifer | Stewie Overseas
                14 Jan 2018

                It’s okay. I haven’t been any further east than Alberta.

                  14 Jan 2018

                  That makes two of us 😜

    Nano @ Travel With Nano B.
    15 Jan 2018

    I’d probably just move somewhere hot for six months. I’m so not into snow and cold weather, and for all I know we might end up living in one of similar places next. Great tips! xx

      15 Jan 2018

      Yes escaping winter is something many people do! The cold can get annoying after a while. 🙈

    23 Feb 2018

    I have just moved to Canada, starting off in freezing cities, doing exactly what you have said! I’m now living in the mountains, where there isn’t as much to do though!! All you can do it’s wrap up warm and embrace the weather! 💛

      23 Feb 2018

      Welcome to Canada! The mountains are spectacular 😍 There are lots of great sports you can do outside 👍🏼 Where did you move from?