It doesn’t matter where you live in Canada, winter is a fact of life. And if you’re one of those 16 people in Canada who look forward to winter, you should just go outside and be hardy somewhere else.
Long months of snow and cold and ice darken most of our cities, some interminably longer than others. (Calgary’s looking at you, Vancouver, jealous of your green grass in March.) The world feels harsh, the night will never end, and all you want to do is curl up in a fetal position by the fireplace. You can fight it all you want, but winter is persistent, relentlessly visiting every year.
But Canadians are nothing, if not resourceful, right? We are descended from adventurers and brave souls from all over the world who came, and are still coming, to seek a different life. Think of the pioneers and explorers throughout this nation. People young and old set off on lifelong adventures. New neighbours from around the world helped form vibrant, unique communities. Hardships developed perseverance and ingenuity, so we’ve got this. Grab that latte, heat up those car seats, and let’s survive winter!
Ways to Actually Enjoy Winter in Canada
1. Leave Canada – Idealistic
The number one way to look forward to winter in Canada? Leave. Plan a trip and enjoy saying goodbye to winter. Drive south. Fly south. Just get yourself somewhere the sun is still shining because a cold day on a Southern Californian beach is still a dream during a Canadian January.
2. Staycation – Realistic
Every year I vow that next year I will be leaving town in January. And I have done that exactly zero times. Being a grown-up apparently means you sometimes have to make smart budgeting decisions. So, take a “staycation” and find some budget winter fun ideas. Be creative in your own house, or if the budget allows, head to a local hotel. (Check out one January weekend here.) No, it’s not the same. Yes, you might have to adopt a fake, hearty optimism, especially if you have pre-teens or teenagers. We’re in the same boat.
3. Find Water
Have cranky kids? Just add water! I know there are people who hate the idea of getting wet when it’s cold outside, but it’s amazing how kids perk up with a little swimming. Find a hotel with a waterslide or take the drive north to the West Edmonton Mall World Waterpark. When in doubt, head to your local pool, but make sure it has a hot tub!
4. Invest in Good Winter Clothing
I grew up mostly in Northern Alberta and heard my dad say many times, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Well, I would like to disagree, but he did have a point. When you have proper winter gear, the cold is much more manageable. Related to this, heated seats in your car (or a heated seating pad, if nothing else) is like investing in happiness.
5. Learn a Winter Sport
There comes a point in the season I’ll try anything to get through. If you don’t already enjoy a winter sport or activity, find one. Even if it’s just the thrill of a good tubing run or learning to snowshoe, find something you like about winter. When you watch the Winter Olympics, you see a host of athletes passionate about their sport. Let yourself be inspired by that and just get moving.
6. Get a Gym Membership
If you’re not ready to throw yourself into winter sports, check out your local recreation facilities, gyms, or YMCAs. Exercise, in general, is a terrific way to fight the winter blues and there are lots of great indoor public spaces to go to when you have cabin fever and can’t get excited about a day outside. Our local YMCA has a pool, a running track, gyms, skating rinks, and even a small library.
7. Learn From Our Danish Friends
They call it hygge. We have adopted it to mean creating coziness. The evenings can be dark and depressing, but light some candles, curl up by the fire with a good book, or invite some friends over for dessert.
8. Read Up on Poisonous Bugs and Snakes
Someone told me a story about living overseas several years ago. During the night they left a brick on the toilet so the rats couldn’t get into the house that way. I’ve travelled a little and found cockroaches in my shoes and epic spiders hanging from the eaves. Read about snakes and spiders and amazing bugs you’ve never heard of and you might be happy you don’t have to coexist with them. I have the (mis)fortune of a son who not only loves to read about all the disgusting creatures in the world but also shares them with me. It makes cold winters seem almost worthwhile.
9. Find a Winter Resort
This falls into the category of, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I will grudgingly admit there might be some benefit to this. One winter we stayed near the Elk Ridge Resort on the edge of Prince Albert National Park. It was a beautiful winter day with lots of outdoor winter fun. We went snow tubing and skating, and we could have gone cross-country skiing. There was also outdoor curling and crokinole (how Canadian!) and the weather was warm enough for an epic snowball fight and the careful sculpting of a Snow Princess.
Embrace it. I guess.
If these ideas don’t work for you, you might just have to grit your teeth and bear it. No matter how unlikely it might seem on a cold day, spring will always come back. I comfort myself with the knowledge that at least I have central heating and hot running water, unlike my hardy ancestors on the prairies. Plus, if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be complaining about the heat as soon as it warms up, anyway.