“In Canada, complaining about the cold is a national pastime.”
January 5, 2016 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Canada: A nation of winter wusses. by Aaron Hutchins [Maclean's Magazine] Canada used to pride itself on being the land of ice and snow. Now we avoid the outdoors—even when it’s not all that cold.
Canada’s mighty winters once invoked a sense of pride and superiority, a way to distinguish Canadians from Americans. “For we are a northern people, as the true out-crop of human nature, more manly, more real than the weak marrow-bones superstition of the effeminate south,” wrote the lawyer and essayist William Alexander Foster in his 1871 address, “Canada first or, our new nationality.” For centuries, Canadians wouldn’t let a little cold stop them. Days after Christmas in 1794, the Hudson Bay Co.’s Peter Fidler—a British surveyor, though perhaps Canada’s first weatherman—ventured out to record at what temperature liquor froze. (For the record: Holland gin freezes solid at -27° C, English brandy at -32° C and rum at -35° C.)
[...]
Times have changed. Environment Canada issues twice as many types of winter warnings as it did 25 years ago. School cancellations are on the rise. Dressing warm—from temperature-rated parkas to lab-tested winter boots—has never been more in fashion, and yet major cities and university campuses continue to expand underground walkways so locals can avoid the cold, no matter the cost.
posted by Fizz (143 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The walk to work yesterday was 0F (sorry, Canadians, I will not use Celsius despite coming on over half a decade living here) and of course, I remembered to wear what I like to call my Fuck This Cold Bullshit super jacket but did not plan for my feet. So the upper half of me was warm while I kept going, "Oh god how fast can you get frostbite in your feet because I am wearing thin kneesocks and cool weather boots not Holy Shit It's Cold insulated boots."

Being the Southern hothouse flower I am, I am never really happy during the winter here but generally it's fine as long as I don't have to go too far outdoors for any length of time. Days like yesterday and a week like last year when it dips into the single digits or below though are horrible. Obviously, my Canadian husband was strolling around yesterday going, "Now THIS is proper winter cold weather," beaming from ear to ear.

(We don't own a car because we live downtown so it's walking during the winter all the time.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:30 AM on January 5, 2016


The author obviously lives in Toronto...
posted by Vindaloo at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


There's definitely something to the idea that people should be more willing to get outside when its cold, for the sake of getting more sunlight and exercise, but the moralizing nonsense about cold weather building character is eye roll inducing. Being cold is uncomfortable and unpleasant and subjecting yourself to it isn't a moral good.

Of course, I'm an American and a Southerner and my ability to tolerate even Washington, DC's relatively mild winters makes me a object of curiosity to people I grew up with.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2016 [13 favorites]


Canada’s mighty winters once invoked a sense of pride and superiority, a way to distinguish Canadians from Americans.

FTFY.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2016


Yep you really need to replace "Canada" with "Toronto"
posted by mrgroweler at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, my dad sends me screenshots of what winter is like for him down in Florida constantly. Yeah, I get it, it's sunny and 73F, give it a rest already.
posted by Kitteh at 8:37 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


With enough warm clothing, you can handle just about any temperature: give me my heavy winter jacket, toque, scarf, ski mask, long johns, and wool socks, and I'm ready to go!

The bad part of winter is the storms where there is a mixture of rain and snow. We had one of those shortly after Christmas, and I had to wade through ankle-deep ice water at every street corner before the plows finished doing their work. I'd rather have frigid cold than that.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:38 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am a Canadian. I like to think that I have a good relationship with winter. I accept where I live and try not to complain too much about the cold temperatures. I live in S. Ontario in the Niagara region. We get our fair share of winter storms and snow accumulation but for the most part it's not too bad. I know that it could easily be much much worse. I could live in Calgary.

I have lived in Canada for the last 15 years and I run outdoors throughout the year. The only time I will cut short on a run is if the wind-chill is at a temperature of -10 C or greater. Skin starts to freeze at -18 C. I don't consider myself a "wuss" for choosing to not run during these temperatures. But outside of that its mostly visibility and road conditions. And even then, I have a pair of running shoes with screws in them so that I can get traction on those extra slippery days.
posted by Fizz at 8:38 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


My theory: Canadians no longer need to feel superior about going out in the cold, because it's been replaced by feeling superior about having a fair healthcare system.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:41 AM on January 5, 2016 [21 favorites]


I am petitioning to become a snowbird before the official snowbird age. Sadly, I can't afford to be one yet!
posted by Kitteh at 8:42 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


If there's a time of year when Canadians can't find something to complain about, weather-wise, I haven't lived through it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:44 AM on January 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


OK, first of all Mr. Hutchins, fuck you.

It's cold. It's really fucking cold. Ottawa is the second coldest capital city in the world. If anybody has any right to complain about the cold, it's Canadians.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is the first year that I've invested in a balaclava. Not only can I run or shovel the snow in extreme temperatures and keep warm, I also get to feel like a ninja while doing so too!
posted by Fizz at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


the moralizing nonsense about cold weather building character is eye roll inducing

Yeah, for real. I grew up in Buffalo. I don't love the cold, I'm just used to it. I do love the snow, but I'm used to being a place with reasonably adequate plow/snow blower/salt/etc capacity when there is a lot of it. Being cold doesn't make you better than anyone else, it just makes you cold.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:47 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


WRT school cancellations, my mom's school district in NS gets a ton of these, way more than when I went to school there. However, they don't occur because it's too cold or snowy; they occur when there's going to be lots of precipitation and it's around 0C which means the roads will be horribly icy. Because kids are driven or bused to school, keeping them off the roads is really important.

Canadians can still do a good 'dry vs. damp' cold argument. Dry cold means I can go outside and enjoy outdoor activities (and that outdoor activities like x-country skiing and ice fishing are possible). Damp cold is perfect weather for a fireplace and a pile of books (snow ends up weird and crunchy/soft and ice isn't safe).
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:49 AM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


If there's a time of year when Canadians can't find something to complain about, weather-wise, I haven't lived through it.
Everyone complains about the weather, everywhere. It's a safe, neutral thing to connect with people about.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Which you Canadians all apparently still get from Roots.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:53 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Weather Network has trumped up winter into a neverending crisis to sell commercial time.
posted by fairmettle at 8:53 AM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


In Quebec, it was mostly just having massive amounts of snow to deal with during the winter. Properly wrapped up, I didn't really mind shoveling the walk and the driveway while Shepherd was at work. It was exercise and it gave bored unemployed me something to do. Here in Kingston, it's less the snow and more that piercing wind that comes off Lake Ontario. It really is bone-chilling.
posted by Kitteh at 8:53 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maclean's Magazine: people complaining about people complaining
posted by oulipian at 8:54 AM on January 5, 2016 [13 favorites]


Also, my dad sends me screenshots of what winter is like for him down in Florida constantly.

Just imagine the fun you will have when Florida is underwater! You can send him pictures of you much more habitable clime, assuming he hasn't been eaten by marine reptiles or something.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


For context, my walk to work this morning in Ottawa was at -23°C (-10°F), with the wind making it feel more like -29°C (-20°F). Although not the coldest weather we'll have this winter, I reserve the right to complain about it!
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: People complaining about people complaining about people complaining.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2016 [25 favorites]


Also, as much as I love running. I'm not one of those hardcore runner-idiots that thinks that you're more badass for running during a blizzard or if the wind chill is at -30 C. All that proves to me is that you're not sensible because you're putting your own health at risk. It's one thing to enjoy the cold or to enjoy your outdoor pastime. It's another to risk harming yourself or others because you're out when you should just stay in.
posted by Fizz at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2016


> The Weather Network has made winter into a neverending crisis to sell commercial time.

This is how every storm is reported nowadays.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like how they weathershame wind chill in one paragraph and then a mere 2 paragraphs later they admit that it does truly make you feel colder.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:56 AM on January 5, 2016


I can live with Canadian winters, no problem. I'm used to it, I know what to do, I can handle it. But I'm supposed to love it? I'm not supposed to complain? Screw that noise.

Winter can be fun, sure. But mostly, it's sore shoulders from wearing a heavy winter coat for months and months. It's scraping or digging your car out to go anywhere at all. It's sore knees from walking awkwardly on poorly-cleared sidewalks. It's uncomfortable and it's incovenient and it never goddamn ends.

Good times in winter? Sure. Absolutely. Defining of our national character? Yes. But most of Canadian winter is a real goddamn slog and no, I am never, ever going to love it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm Canadian and my opinion on cold is that I respect it's power enough that I will go to great lengths to avoid feeling cold.

If you think being cold is a macho thing you probably have never stood out in -35C windchill weather waiting for a bus that never came because it was too cold for the buses to start (Thanks OCTranspo!).
posted by srboisvert at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


Oh don't get me started on the weather channel and naming winter storms. It's a terrible idea borne, sadly, from an actual good one (the Buffalo NWS office used to name winter storms after the fact as an internal way to distinguish between storms in years with multiple big ones).
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:59 AM on January 5, 2016


I hasten to add that if you are able-bodied and do not shovel the end of your driveway or the sidewalks around your house after a bad storm, you are a bad person.
posted by Kitteh at 8:59 AM on January 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


I once told my Australian ex-girlfriend (who was in Ottawa attending university) that people in Canada sometimes died after taking deep breaths on really cold days, which caused their lungs to frost over. I told her this before it got cold. Unfortunately she believed me and spent a big chunk of the winter huffing her way across Carlton's campus like she had asthma.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:01 AM on January 5, 2016 [19 favorites]


Carleton University's campus has a large network of tunnels running underneath it so that students don't have to go out in the cold ever if they don't want to. And I know I've taken some breaths in winter that felt like they might kill me.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2016


I remember reading something about breath freezing to people's faces or something in a Gary Paulsen book as a child and definitely worried it could happen to me. In North Carolina. When it was like 30 degrees.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:06 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most times I don't mind it so much, but I woke up this morning at 5 to drive my daughter down to Union Station to get the train back to Montreal and it was around -15. The streets were empty and pitch black and frigid and I mused out loud why the hell would any one ever settle in this place? Like who spent the first winter here and thought, "Yes. Perfect."
posted by chococat at 9:12 AM on January 5, 2016 [15 favorites]


There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Which you Canadians all apparently still get from Roots.
Which was started by 2 Americans.
posted by chococat at 9:14 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Damp cold

Damp cold stamped its huge honkin' humid feet all over my sense of rugged weather superiority. I totally used to judge people by it. I grew up in N. Wyo where it got plenty cold but the windchill just took it to another level, and the wind.never.stops.blowing. I measured freezing temps by the coldest I'd ever been: one winter it was below 0 F (-17 C) most of the time and the wind blew so hard that when we went out to chop ice in the water tanks for the stock the water would freeze in the air and the wind would blow it back on you as ice so hard it would CUT YOU. That was cold.

Then I moved to Texas. And I have never, never been as in-your-bones wretchingly cold as I was the few days it got to about 35 F (1.7 C) but the humidity was in the high 80s or something - I have no idea, it felt like it was 99% whatever it was. You could run the heater all you wanted and it didn't do a darn thing to dispel the damp cold. I was fucking miserable and it wasn't even freezing out. I kept wondering what it must be like in the areas in the NE with lake effect, how do people not die?

Nothing like having your so-called toughness beaten down to realize you've been stupid to judge people by how they react to weather. *sigh* Just another lesson in my personal life long course of study, "The Many Ways You're an Asshole, Me".
posted by barchan at 9:15 AM on January 5, 2016 [13 favorites]


Speaking of winter outdoor activities...even though I've never attended the Québec Winter Carnival, I know the lyrics to "Bonhomme, Bonhomme" off by heart (thanks to my grade 3 or 4 French teacher) and in fact it's stuck in my head RIGHT NOW.

Here in Kingston, it's less the snow and more that piercing wind that comes off Lake Ontario. It really is bone-chilling.

The last time we did Christmas on the north shore of Lake Superior with the inlaws, we had daily average temperatures that hovered in the -20 to -35C range for the whole week (excluding wind chill). Standing on the shore of Lake Superior in that weather in a howling wind, thereby introducing wind chill into the whole equation - let's just say it was more of an "existential" cold than a "piercing" one.

Would agree that wind chill is indeed a thing.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:22 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the reasons I moved to Ottawa from Southern Ontario was to escape damp cold. I have a 30 minute walk to work. Give me -10°C to -30°C and dry air any day over hovering around freezing and damp. Stupid global warming means more Southern Ontario winter days around here. You can't really enjoy that weather. Not enough snow for skiing, no ice for skating, just damp, cold, slushy, and miserable. Your feet are always damp. And more school bus cancellations, as freezing rain is the one thing that guarantees the buses will not be running. We have spent a lot of time outside since we finally got snow and cold last week.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:23 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Once more Toronto forgets that Vancouver is still part of Canada.
posted by N-stoff at 9:26 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]




everybody had matching towels: I don't love the cold, I'm just used to it.

As a person born in MN but living in RI, I hear, "oh, you must love winter" all the time. Dude, no, I don't love winter, I just own heavier clothes than you do, and the temperature-sensing nerves in my face are already dead.

(And truth be told, as much fun as the chest-thumping is, I am getting a little older and I prefer to be comfortable -- about 67F is my ideal.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:29 AM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: People complaining about people complaining about people complaining.

MetaTalk: People complaining about people complaining about people complaining about people complaining.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


First off, anyone not familiar with Macleans, this is basically their editorial policy:

Maclean's Magazine: people complaining about people complaining

It's really just dead-tree clickbait.

Anyway, having moved from the much-loathed Toronto to California it's funny with cold weather: people always seem surprised when I put on a jacket or a toque to go outside. "But you're Canadian!" they say "you're used to the cold!"

"No," I say, "In Canada we wear winter clothing, that's why we don't die."

In California it will be 5 C outside (like you Kitteh I refuse to bend to the stupid local measurement system) and people will be wearing shorts or flip-flops or whatever but it is sure as hell not seasonally appropriate. Similarly it will be 20 C outside and some SF hipster will walk by in a wool toque and I want to punch his neatly groomed beard into next week.

In Canada people dress for the weather. In California it's fucking chaos.
posted by GuyZero at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


Growing up in Northern New York, which is very nearly Canada, it was my very fervent hope that it would hit the mid -40s so the fuel in the school buses would be too viscous to start their engines. No official consideration was given to the discomfort, only the logistics.
posted by ethansr at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, I always like to point out - the deep winter freeze is what keeps a great variety of insects and vermin out of Canada. Even though my Victorian-era house was not that well insulated I much prefered a deep winter freeze in Toronto because it meant less mice and mosquitoes in the long run.
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Speaking of winter outdoor activities...even though I've never attended the Québec Winter Carnival,

Shepherd and I did once. It was sort of fun, especially if you enjoy Caribou in large quantities (I discovered that I don't) and like waiting in long lines for various outdoor winter activities. I did like walking around Old Quebec which was utterly charming and unlike anything in North America that I've ever seen. Also, Le Moine Echanson was one of the best pre-vegan me restaurants I've ever eaten at.

Bonhomme himself is terrifying, though.
posted by Kitteh at 9:34 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


(And truth be told, as much fun as the chest-thumping is, I am getting a little older and I prefer to be comfortable -- about 67F is my ideal.)

Yeah, I laughed with it opened with anecdotes about a 65 year old. An older person who likes it warm? Who knew! My dad has been keeping the house steadily warm, and now has the thermostat on, I think 76, and it was definitely in the 80s inside at my grandfather's house before he died. This is a thing that happens.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:35 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Living in Vancouver is really interesting. It never gets cold the way it does in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and people from there will NEVER let you hear the end of it. One of my bosses was from Winnipeg and she complained about every instance of our weather. "It really doesn't rain here at all." She'd say and then when it started raining "It never stops raining." And it was the same with the cold. "In Winnipeg we have real winters." And I'd just have to roll my eyes.

I know one or two people who wear thermal underwear in Vancouver (and one of them only does it because she's cold no matter what). No one here has to layer the way they do further East but it's still cold. Right now it's 0. Yesterday it snowed and rained. I'll wear a jacket when I go outside. I don't think there's anything abnormal about complaining about the weather. In summer we'll complain that it gets too hot here too.
posted by Neronomius at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2016


As someone who just returned from a week of backcountry skiing, I say three cheers for winter! I want nice cold snow, crisp air, and sunny skies. Winter is great!

Unfortunately, much of the population of Canada lives in places where winter is not very pleasant. If the temperature is fluctuating around 0C and you live in a city with streets coated in dirty, salty slush, then you really aren't going to have much fun. If you live somewhere where you can ski, snowshoe, play hockey outside, skate on a lake, and build a campfire, then winter is much better.

So, yeah, winter in Southern Ontario sucks. Winter in Montreal is bitterly cold and slushy, but at least you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, or skate right in town. Winter in Vancouver is mostly rain. Winter in Calgary is alternately cold and windy and then warm and melty. Winter in the mountain west? That's just lovely.
posted by ssg at 9:41 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


it will be 20 C outside and some SF hipster will walk by in a wool toque and I want to punch his neatly groomed beard into next week.

This is entirely not worse than the Tragically Hip bros in their 30's who were wearing cargo shorts last week because it got to 10º or whatever in December.
posted by chococat at 9:43 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kitteh: "I hasten to add that if you are able-bodied and do not shovel the end of your driveway or the sidewalks around your house after a bad storm, you are a bad person."

Don't they have chenillettes in Kingston?
posted by vasi at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2016


Once more Toronto forgets that Vancouver is still part of Canada.

To be fair, speaking as an adoptive Torontonian, this city often forgets the rest of Ontario is part of Canada.

So, yeah, winter in Southern Ontario sucks.

Having spent the first twenty five years of my life in the southernmost region of Ontario (some of which is south of Detroit), I concur. You'd get a few days of proper winter weather, followed by a thaw, and then the inevitable slush/salt everywhere. So it's just this gross mess.

This makes me appreciate places where you just get a solid freeze for an extended period of time so that snow sticks around.

Given that the temperature here in Toronto has gone from 10C to -12C in just ten days makes it an exercise in contrasts that makes -12 seem a little more jarring than it is.

But that shock is also likely due to the sartorial complacency this mild winter had lulled the locals into. They're not the most prepared lot at the best of times.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:59 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: People complaining about people complaining about people complaining about people complaining.

Flagged!
posted by leotrotsky at 10:00 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I fucking hate winter. I hate being cold. (I also hate being too hot, and the astute observer might point out that living in Toronto is therefore suboptimal for me.)\

This winter has thus far been a doddle. Me, Christmas morning, on my sister's deck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:03 AM on January 5, 2016


Every year I like winter a little bit less than the year before (although I still prefer living somewhere where the changing of the seasons is dramatic), but I can still handle anything it throws at me in terms of the cold. It's the darkness and Endless Grey that gets to me. My wife grew up in Thunder Bay, where if it's not snowing it's sunny, and in some ways she preferred that to the monotonous blah of a SW Ontario winter.

Anyway, how about that weather, eh?
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:05 AM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


If there's a time of year when Canadians can't find something to complain about, weather-wise, I haven't lived through it.

Meh. Southern Ontario was 16º C on Christmas Eve (that is 61º Fahrenheit for Americans, as well as mefites from Palau, Belize, or the Bahamas). I recall no one complaining, save maybe a few gardeners who were angsty about their crocuses.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I know one or two people who wear thermal underwear in Vancouver (and one of them only does it because she's cold no matter what). No one here has to layer the way they do further East but it's still cold. Right now it's 0. Yesterday it snowed and rained. I'll wear a jacket when I go outside. I don't think there's anything abnormal about complaining about the weather. In summer we'll complain that it gets too hot here too.

I grew up in Vancouver and now live in Ontario. Vancouver is a different type of winter cold. It's a stagnant wet, get into your bones seeping type of cold, usually because the temperature hovers around the freezing mark. Get down past around -5 and the wet cold turns into more of a dry cold that I find much easier to dress for. I worked in the ski industry for many years and the general preference from my peers was -5 to about -12 to keep comfortable with proper dressing. Below that it got more difficult to keep your feet warm all day especially since you have to deal with sweat from exercise. It really was all about your feet in this case. Rest of the body was easy.

Now in the part of Ontario that I'm in (though not this year yet) it's the bloody wind. It is like a couple of others wet lake wind but it is a different sort damp cold then Vancouver. I can only describe it as a piercing cold though I find it a lot easier to shake off once I'm out of it. Here I actually prefer when it's very cold as the wind is dryer. If you wear proper clothes I find a dry wind is actually easier to stay warm in.

The biggest difference between the two types of winter isn't the temperature it's the difference in the amount of extra work it takes for everyday mundane tasks. It's mean getting up earlier to dig and scrape and having to have a constant watch on the weather during the day because if it's storming the roads could close and we could literally get stuck at work. Here the roads mostly closed due to the wind.

I'm okay with winter. I put up with it. It's not that I'm not used it. For almost 10 years my main job was all about snow and winter. Now it's just annoying. The exception are the amazing days when it's brilliantly sunny, still, crisp and dry. I love these! The world is so sparkly and quiet. If winter could mostly be like this I'd love it a lot more.
posted by Jalliah at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I lived one winter in Vancouver - Burnaby actually - and not only was there snow everywhere, the roads up Burnaby Mountain were ice covered a fair bit and the busses couldn't make it up the hill to SFU. It may not happen that often, but Vancouver gets actual winters sometimes.
posted by GuyZero at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2016


Like who spent the first winter here and thought, "Yes. Perfect."

THE FRENCH
posted by poffin boffin at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


> I recall no one complaining, save maybe a few gardeners who were angsty about their crocuses.

Nobody in Sarnia (where I was for Christmas) was complaining...but I did talk to people who were kind of freaked out in a "this ain't right" kind of way.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2016


yes, pedants of metafilter, i of all people am aware that there were indigenous humans on this continent before the arrival of european colonists, thank you for your concern
posted by poffin boffin at 10:13 AM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


I come from a family that prides itself on being those people, the ones who actually like winter. Which gives us a whole other level of superiority complex. That said we always end up complaining that there isn't enough snow, Edmonton doesn't get a lot of snow.
posted by selenized at 10:14 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, my dad sends me screenshots of what winter is like for him down in Florida constantly.

In my family, we call this "weather sadism."

Parents: Southern California. Me, since 1992: Chicago, Michigan, and Western NY.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:15 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Canada’s mighty winters once invoked a sense of pride and superiority, a way to distinguish Canadians from Americans.

This is utter bullshit. This posturing is only ever invoked when Americans are in the vicinity. I've lived in Ottawa for 32 years; no one likes the cold; some like to ski, so the snow is tolerated.

This is just another idiotic Canadian stereotype. At least this one doesn't involve marketing beer or shirts with fucking leaves or beavers on them.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


In Toronto anyway I think the wussing out right now is more due to the fact that up until Sunday afternoon it was still pretty pleasant outside and then it got cold very quickly (but it will be back above 0 by the weekend so no worries). I know on my end I drove my daughter to school yesterday and today, which I probably wouldn't have done if it had been colder last week and if it wasn't the first days back after winter break.

A lot of what makes winter bearable to me is the presence of snow. If it is cold and there is snow outside then I'm OK with it because that means I can go tobogganing. My family is starting skating so hopefully that's another fun thing we can do outdoors when it gets cold and I'll be able to look forward to cold weekends when there's no snow as well (we were kind of upset that it was too warm to go skating outside for most of the break).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:17 AM on January 5, 2016


I committed weather sadism the first winter I lived in Victoria. Back here, there was about thirty metres of snow on the ground, and White Walkers were asking if they could pop in for a cuppa to warm up a bit.

So I called a friend of mine.

"Hey, how's it going?"
"Ugh this weather ugh"
"Guess what I'm doing right now"
"Do I even want to know?"
"I'm sitting on my back deck in shorts drinking a marga--"
*click*
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:18 AM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


"If you think being cold is a macho thing you probably have never stood out in -35C windchill weather waiting for a bus that never came because it was too cold for the buses to start "

True. My version of that, was bus very very late because the drivers were on strike and most of the buses were not out. I thought my feet were going to just die there.

Speaking of winter outdoor activities...even though I've never attended the Québec Winter Carnival, I know the lyrics to "Bonhomme, Bonhomme" off by heart (thanks to my grade 3 or 4 French teacher) and in fact it's stuck in my head RIGHT NOW.

The parade!!!!! One of the 2 occasions loads of young people from the suburbs used to invade Qc city to get massively drunk in public! (the other being June 24). I swear almost everybody was already drunk when stepping in the bus to go into town. Late January/early February the perfect time to go out at night when it f**** cold and get drunk watching a parade and blow a plastic horn. (bring liquor, beer will freeze if you don't drink it fast enough)

I personally love winter, but it's only fun if you embrace winter sports (skiing, snowshoeing, skating, ...) otherwise it's a miserable time. It's also 20x more annoying if you own a car (but said car can be used to go where the cool activities can be enjoyed).
posted by coust at 10:25 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Don't they have chenillettes in Kingston?

Yes, they do, but they are mostly focused on well-traveled main streets and roads and not so much with inner neighbourhoods. The common complaint in Kingston is that the city does a terrible job of keeping sidewalks cleared that aren't downtown. But then I am sure that is true of every city whose residential streets aren't near the city centre.
posted by Kitteh at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2016


"In Winnipeg we have real winters." And I'd just have to roll my eyes.

I live in Toronto, and am an immigrant so I don't really like the cold, and definitely hate shoveling snow. I work with mostly other immigrants but we have a few blowhard Canadian colleagues who loudly go on ... and on ... and on ... about how nice winters are in Toronto versus whatever frozen wasteland they moved here from and how happy they are it's a minus 20 windchill because I LOVE IT LOOK AT ME I DON'T EVEN WEAR A SCARF WHY ARE YOU IN THAT COAT and all the rest. They tend to be the same ones who do the HAHA WHAT IS THAT, REAL CANADIANS DRINK TIMMIES DOUBLE DOUBLES RAR RAR any time someone has a starbucks cup. I look forward to the spring just to shut these guys (and it is always guys for whatever reason) up.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


Torontonian born and bred, here- Timmies is shit, don't listen to those hosers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


The thing with Winnipeg winters is that yes it is cold, but I didn't feel any colder at -40 than I do at -15. The main difference is that at -40 frostbite is a real concern. On the flip side it is so sunny during the day in Winnipeg (because it is too cold for clouds) which is a nice change from the grey that is winter in Southern Ontario.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:35 AM on January 5, 2016


I also live in Toronto (like everyone who counts in this thread 😉) and last week we had the windows open. It was glorious. This week the cats are firm about their Under The Covers All The Time policy.

My Winnipeger friends are thrilled that they can walk the suddenly empty streets of Toronto without obstruction now that everyone has gone underground into the PATH.
posted by sadmadglad at 10:37 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I will take winter in Calgary, Ottawa or Southern Ontario over the damp grey misery of a Newfoundland winter any time. -35 and sunny with 1cm of snow is far nicer than -2 and 25cm of snow rising to +2 and rain then falling back to -5 and what the weather forecasters call a "wintry mix" made up of sleet, snow, ice, and the tears of frustration from people forced to shovel in that weather.
posted by peppermind at 10:38 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, I always like to point out - the deep winter freeze is what keeps a great variety of insects and vermin out of Canada. Even though my Victorian-era house was not that well insulated I much prefered a deep winter freeze in Toronto because it meant less mice and mosquitoes in the long run.

I don't think this is true. I think it has more to do with early clearance and cultivation of suitable habit for mosquitoes than a winter cull (other than the obvious absence in the winter that is). In Ottawa there is even a monument to the hundreds of Irish canal builders who died of malaria.
posted by srboisvert at 10:41 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I much prefered a deep winter freeze in Toronto because it meant less mice and mosquitoes in the long run.

It doesn't seem to work that way in Winnipeg.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:45 AM on January 5, 2016


Northern Alberta youth represent.

I didn't feel any colder at -40 than I do at -15.

Things that make a difference: at -40 the cold creeps in along the bows of your glasses until it reaches your ears and slowly starts to freeze them even though you're wearing a scarf up to your eyes, and a hat down to your eyes. Also, your nostrils trying to freeze shut when you inhale. Nearly losing part of your ear to frostbite while waiting for the damn bus because the convenience store wouldn't let you wait inside so you had to huddle behind the swaying gas-price sign near the curb even though you bought a goddamn soda in an attempt to curry their favor, and it's only been like three days since you bought a whole bag of sours the scum. Having to walk four extra blocks to the lab because the nearer lot for some ungodly reason didn't have plugs for the block heater so if you parked there you'd never get the car started again. Who built that lot anyway, Caligula?
posted by aramaic at 10:47 AM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


It doesn't seem to work that way in Winnipeg.

Yeah, I guess not. Roaches maybe? Something has to be dying. That was always my hope.
posted by GuyZero at 10:49 AM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bitching about tunnels and indoor malls is more fun if you pretend old folk and people with mobility issues don't exist.

The writer is based in Toronto where even the public transit moves around in tunnels ffs.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:49 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, a small fraction of public transit is in tunnels. We also have buses and streetcars. (And as an aside, I wish city workers would be way more careful about clearing snow around bus and streetcar stops. Inevitably, the snowplows put up this huge berm of snow along the curb, and the sidewalk plows do fuckall about it, which makes getting on and off surface transit hell for someone like me who is relatively mobile. Virtually impossible for anyone with mobility issues from shaky walking to canes to strollers to wheelchairs.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:53 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like who spent the first winter here and thought, "Yes. Perfect."

Post or pre Native genocide?

Canada’s mighty winters once invoked a sense of pride and superiority, a way to distinguish Canadians from Americans.

Only by assholes so, irrelevant nonsense basically. If you're the type of person who takes pride in not seeing the Doctor and then dying of cancer or not preparing properly for the environment and getting frost bitten or dying you really have a some issues you should take care of. In addition, in 1871, life was very different and most likely a lot more dangerous in terms of surviving harsh environments so a few proud people probably paid the price. In the modern world, with our ridiculous get everything done yesterday pace, winter's cold is only one factor, the way it intrudes on your daily operations another.

The coldest I've ever been is in Thunder Bay in February where it was -47 C without the windchill. My nose hairs froze the instant I stepped outside and everyone who was out was basically gathering themselves at the exits of houses or shops to run to their cars as fast as possible if they had to go somewhere. I did the same for the taxis. It was brutal. I have no issue with anyone who makes a comment about such weather.

I've recently went from 79 to 63 kilos and I was not prepared for how much colder I feel when the temperature drops. Glad the winter in Toronto thus far has been light. Aging seems to greatly reduce extreme cold/hot tolerance as well.
posted by juiceCake at 10:55 AM on January 5, 2016


On New Year's Eve at a party someone said The Usual about Minnesota winters. I replied that when your boogers freeze, you know it's good and cold.

And that ended that conversation.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:56 AM on January 5, 2016


Not Canadian, but close (Buffalo). For me personally, my tolerance for cold is directly proportional to how much I'm going out and doing fun things in the winter. I grew up skiing literally every weekend from the moment there was enough snow on the hills (started at age 6). In college we went snowboarding or sledded down hills on campus on dining hall trays. Now in Chicago I've done XC skiing along the lake front and normally I bike commute throughout the winter. Last year after one of the big snowfalls my bf and I suited up and just walked around the nearby park, trudging through knee-deep snow and watching the kids at the sledding hill.

If you can just get the right gear and get out there and Do Stuff, the cold really isn't that bad. If the stuff you're doing can't be done in any season other than winter, even better, because it gives you something to think about/look forward to. And coming in for hot cocoa after having fun in the snow/cold is one of life's great pleasures.

This year I'm suffering from a torn ACL and may very well need surgery, knocking me out of any activity for the remainder of this winter and into the spring. Having to take the bus instead of biking to work, being afraid of slipping on ice while walking the dog and hurting my knee further, knowing I'm basically going to be in full Cabin Fever mode come late February really sucks. This winter has been way, way milder than usual yet I'm more miserable because I'm not doing things. Waiting at the bus stop in the 20F cold this morning sucks way, way more than riding my bike in it, even if my incredulous coworkers don't believe me when I try to explain that to them.
posted by misskaz at 10:57 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


And to be clear, my cold tolerance when I'm doing fun winter stuff extends even to when I'm not doing the fun stuff. It just makes the whole hassle more tolerable when I don't equate cold solely with misery.

I mean how can you not love being bundled up outside, having fun on a clear sunny winter's day, then coming in and peeling off your staticky, sweaty layers, warming your toes over a fireplace or space heater, sipping on a hot mug of cocoa with lots of marshmallows, laughing about your adventures, nose and cheeks still red and wind-chapped? It makes me happy just thinking about it. But maybe I'm a weirdo.
posted by misskaz at 11:03 AM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


yup you're a weirdo
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


Meh. Southern Ontario was 16º C on Christmas Eve (that is 61º Fahrenheit for Americans, as well as mefites from Palau, Belize, or the Bahamas). I recall no one complaining, save maybe a few gardeners who were angsty about their crocuses.

I'm in Buffalo and have been bitching about this year's stupid, lame, awful excuse for a winter the whole fucking time. It's just shit. Where's my fucking snow? I want my snow! We're like 40 inches under where we should be, and the vallhunds haven't even once been able to be snow maniacs in the back yard, and there have been lots of days I haven't been able to wear a nice toque and gloves and some days where even a sweater was too much.

Horrible.

If I wanted shit boring weather like this in winter, I'd have stayed in fucking Texas or, God help me, tried to get back around my family in north Florida. I moved to Yankeeland voluntarily and with open eyes and I WANT MY FUCKING WINTER GODDAMMIT. I want ALL HUNDRED INCHES OF SNOW. I want to need a coat and hat and gloves LIKE YOU SHOULD IN WINTER.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:12 AM on January 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


Like who spent the first winter here and thought, "Yes. Perfect."


In my mother's family, there is a set of letters from a distant ancestor of mine who, like many young men from Orkney in the 19th century, was recruited to be a trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, and sent to a post somewhere in the James Bay region.

From what we can tell, he arrived sometime in Summer, and his early letters are generally optimistic- "This seems like good land, the locals are friendly, the fur runs are very rich, I should be able to make some money," etc.

The second set of letters, from that following Spring, paint a different picture, something along the lines of "Bleak frozen hellscape, days without sun, wind like a straight-razor..."




It was still better than the cod fishery or the Royal Navy.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:14 AM on January 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


Bitching about tunnels and indoor malls is more fun if you pretend old folk and people with mobility issues don't exist.

I just helped my sister move from LA to Chicago*, which is the first place with a "real winter" she has ever lived.

When we were trudging on the sidewalks around the piles of slush and ice after last Monday's grim sleet storm, she was like, "How do people with wheelchairs get around? This can't be ADA**-compliant! The whole Midwest must be out of compliance with ADA for months at a time!!"

*Forgive me for the inevitable dragging in of the US! I promise I don't mean to derail!
**American with Disabilities Act of 1990

posted by andrewesque at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


If nothing else, Southern Ontario's normally mild winters make the backyard ice rink aficionados appreciate the few deep winters that much more.
posted by GuyZero at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nobody in Sarnia (where I was for Christmas) was complaining...

Yes, well after a White Witch rules for 100 years of permanent winter, a few months doesn't seem that bad.
posted by oulipian at 11:21 AM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, I have to personally admit that while I am one of those relentless winter/snow/cold boosters much like ROU_Xenophobe -- this morning it was 12 F/-11 C where I am and it felt brisk and alive! -- it's in part because I have to put up with so much relentless summer propaganda boosterism.

I realize it's not life-threatening in the same way that extreme winter cold is, but I hate the humidity, mugginess, mosquitoes and bugs, heat waves, how furnace-like underground subway stations become and the smell of trash (OK, maybe the last two are unique to NYC) all while wearing long pants to work, while being constantly assured that summer is the best season of all. I'll believe it when I can afford an apartment with central AC.

(I will say that I'm mostly complaining about summers in the four-season and humid east of North America; I found summers in Los Angeles where I grew up far more delightful.)
posted by andrewesque at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2016


That magical point where celsius and fahrenheit meet is -40.

Where I live in Saskatchewan, I cannot remember a winter where the temperature didn't hang out around that mark for at least parts of January and February. On these coldest of days, it is surreal to be outside. There is a calm and impossible quiet over everything, holding it in its place, completely still; even the inanimate braces itself against the cold.
posted by axismundi at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


On these coldest of days, it is surreal to be outside. There is a calm and impossible quiet over everything, holding it in its place, completely still; even the inanimate braces itself against the cold.

We had this happening here in S. Ontario last year but this year it's been mild up until the last few weeks. Winter has finally arrived and it's not so bad. I enjoy that quiet winter silence that you speak of. It's kind of magical.
posted by Fizz at 11:31 AM on January 5, 2016


It's not quite so magical in late fucking March.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:33 AM on January 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


In Canada people dress for the weather. In California it's fucking chaos.

True. It’s usually not life threatening or even extreme in any way, so it’s like people have completely forgotten the concept of dressing for comfort, or that clothes have specific purposes. Or they're just so confused coming from whatever midwest or northeast place they came from.
posted by bongo_x at 11:36 AM on January 5, 2016


It's not quite so magical in late fucking March.

Bah. It's only just started, we've missed half of winter already. We're going to blink and it'll be February.
posted by Fizz at 11:38 AM on January 5, 2016


It's going to be 41F this Saturday and I am pleased as shit about it. I hope this is a very short winter. After two long af winters, I am down for short and sweet and soon to be sunny and warm.
posted by Kitteh at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2016


I love winter, and especially winter in Colorado. We get snow and cold snaps, but in between the snows, it usually gets warm and sunny enough to melt everything off before the next one, so we don't have so much of that accumulation of dirty snow and slush that you get in places that stay below freezing. Colorado winters are pretty much ideal as far as I'm concerned.

And I have taken the "don't pick on cold-intolerant people" request under advisement and have REJECTED it. Because I've always had to tolerate people talking about how nice the weather is when it's miserably hot to me. I start getting a little uncomfortable when it's anywhere over 70F, and during the spells in the summer when it's over 90F for an extended time, I can't sleep, I get nauseated and lethargic, and there is little I can do to manage it. You can put on warmer clothes if you're too cold. I run out of options pretty quickly.

And I'm not being macho. I am not a man, and I do not identify as or aspire to be manly in any way, despite the sick burn about "the weak marrow-bones superstition of the effeminate south." There is nothing inherently tougher about cold tolerance than there is heat tolerance, and you are allowed to make fun of me when I'm wilting in weather you consider ideal for bread baking. It is kind of funny. Just please don't accuse me of being a man because of it.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:43 AM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I grew up in Vancouver and now live in Ontario. Vancouver is a different type of winter cold. It's a stagnant wet, get into your bones seeping type of cold, usually because the temperature hovers around the freezing mark.

My sister who still lives in Ottawa said this when she came to visit. I've been out of Ottawa for a dozen or so years and find Vancouver winters comparatively excellent, still. Ontario winters were so dry and windy and miserable. I remember my eyelashes freezing together when the wind was so cold it made your eyes water. Nose hairs freezing. If you didn't completely dry your hair before you left the house it would freeze together in clumps. Your scarf hardening into a shape of your face as the vapor from your breath turns to frost in the scarf's fibers. The outer surface of your legs going numb while you stand outside waiting for another fucking bus. The dry, cracked skin. Hell, even Toronto. I got sent to Toronto in February on business after being here for about 5 years and thought "no problem, I used to do this all the time". On my first coffee break on that trip I bought new gloves and a new toque, cold and defeated. I'll take that wet hovering-around-freezing 2 or 3 months every time. The downside is the lack of sunlight for an addition 3 months. Or 6, take your pick. For me the "cold" is more than manageable out here.
posted by Hoopo at 11:44 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


oh god the fucking slush. And the stores and public transit that jack the heat up to a million degrees without considering for a moment that people are going to be walking in wearing seventeen layers and bam, the subway is my own personal sauna hellbox.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


(And as an aside, I wish city workers would be way more careful about clearing snow around bus and streetcar stops. Inevitably, the snowplows put up this huge berm of snow along the curb, and the sidewalk plows do fuckall about it, which makes getting on and off surface transit hell for someone like me who is relatively mobile. Virtually impossible for anyone with mobility issues from shaky walking to canes to strollers to wheelchairs.)

Sigh, yes. This is my life here in Ottawa where I was basically trapped for several days after the storm. While the streets and sidewalks were generally clear, the snow banks at the bus stop were as high as my thighs and there was no way I was making it through them.
posted by aclevername at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Complaining about the weather is a way of connecting with others. I'd rather whine and bond than be stoic and hanging out in my wintery fortress of solitude.
posted by kaymac at 11:57 AM on January 5, 2016


In my mother's family, there is a set of letters from a distant ancestor of mine who, like many young men from Orkney in the 19th century, was recruited to be a trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, and sent to a post somewhere in the James Bay region.

From what we can tell, he arrived sometime in Summer, and his early letters are generally optimistic- "This seems like good land, the locals are friendly, the fur runs are very rich, I should be able to make some money," etc.

The second set of letters, from that following Spring, paint a different picture, something along the lines of "Bleak frozen hellscape, days without sun, wind like a straight-razor..."


There was an editorial cartoon from a couple weeks ago which ten minutes of googling has not located: a Syrian family exits a plane in Toronto proclaiming "10º C! The winters are just like Syria!" At the base of the stairs, Prime Minister Trudeau speaks sotto voce to Premier Wynne: "Let's not ruin the moment."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


The second set of letters, from that following Spring, paint a different picture, something along the lines of "Bleak frozen hellscape, days without sun, wind like a straight-razor..."


Margaret Atwood:

Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer

i

He stood, a point
on a sheet of green paper
proclaiming himself the centre

with no walls, no borders
anywhere; the sky no height
above him, totally un-
enclosed
and shouted:

Let me out!

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:05 PM on January 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


You can put on warmer clothes if you're too cold. I run out of options pretty quickly.

This is the crux of it. My chosen temperature is chillier than that of many. In Canadian winters I rarely trouble do do up my coat. I wear sandals by choice eight months a year.

If you are cold: put on a sweater/eat some carbs/do a few jumping jacks. Your body is a machine that generates heat. If I am too hot... well, I will just crouch here near the fan or the air conditioner and blot my brow.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:16 PM on January 5, 2016


As a person born in MN but living in RI

I used to live in Minneapolis but now reside in Providence RI. Comparing Minnesota winter with a RI winter in terms of temperature is like comparing RI with Atlanta. In other words, the mean temperature in January in Providence is warmer than that in Minneapolis by the same degree that Atlanta is warmer than Providence. I like to point out these comparisons when my southern New England neighbors start complaining about cold. And this December? The mean temperature in Providence RI was above normal for Atlanta! In other words, this December in Providence was warmer than a normal December in Atlanta.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:16 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


And NYC finally fell below freezing this season for the 1st time, yesterday! And sorry for the derail, but I am looking forward to next Sunday's playoff game between the Vikings and the Seahawks. This is going to be an old school NFL arctic battle not seen since the 1970's in Minnesota. The Vikings are playing outdoors this year while the new stadium is being constructed and next Sunday the actual high temperature in Minneapolis (not wind chill) is forecast to be 7 lonely degrees. God only knows what the wind chill will be. Advantage Vikings!
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:22 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm actually at the total arthritis hell point where it's obnoxiously better for me when it's cold as fuck outside rather than a mild 50s winter day, because when it's freezing outside then the heat is blasting in my apartment. The entirety of "winter" so far up until this past week has been fucking MURDEROUS SLAUGHTER AGONY on every last fucking stupid joint in my monumental failure of a skeleton thanks to godawful mild temperatures that frankly make me want to commit widescale genocide.

and god help the fool who tells me to put on a sweater and deal with it
posted by poffin boffin at 12:28 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a Minnesota resident, I would like to point out that many Canadians are not actually to my north. Others, like those in Vancouver, live in a warmer climate.

I come from a family that prides itself on being those people, the ones who actually like winter. Which gives us a whole other level of superiority complex.

My family has this in spades. It makes some sense for me to enjoy winter as I cross-country ski 2-3 times a week and love it, but even my sister who holes up in her house all winter and is actually miserable buys into our weird snobbery.
posted by Area Man at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2016


Gotta love the Toronto hate :)

F Winter. Unless you are a big winter sports nut there is little to really enjoy about it and it's generally just in the way. But the article is generally BS. Yes we all love to complain about the winter weather, but we love to complain about the summer weather too. We can usually find something to complain about. But everyone knows that it's just a coping mechanism. And building tunnels or covered walkways so you don't have to put on a whole pile of extra layers to walk from building to building just makes sense.

That said we've only actually had 2 or 3 days of actual winter weather this year. So most of the complaining has centred on how much worse it's going to get :)
posted by cirhosis at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2016


I don't mind the cold, the snow, the slush, the damp...what I fucking hate is that as soon as the heater goes on, my knuckles instantly dry out and split. Just putting my hands in my pockets is painful. Just gonna bathe in lotion until April.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nobody in Sarnia (where I was for Christmas) was complaining...but I did talk to people who were kind of freaked out in a "this ain't right" kind of way.

I grew up there and saw my fair share of green Christmases, so unsurprising.

At 43 degrees North, it's well south of a not-insignificant chunk of the US.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2016


I grew up in Sarnia and a white/green Christmas was always a coin flip, but 16 C? People were making jokes about going to the beach, and I saw multiple joggers in shorts.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2016


Yes we all love to complain about the winter weather, but we love to complain about the summer weather too.

Canadians like to complain about:

- Winter weather
- Summer weather
- This damn rain
- Being mistaken for Americans
- CBC
- Construction
- Wrong poutine
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


- that one mayor who did all that crack
posted by poffin boffin at 12:53 PM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


- Winter weather
- Summer weather
- This damn rain
- Being mistaken for Americans
- CBC
- Construction
- Wrong poutine


See also: Gas prices. For the love of god shut up about how confusing it is that the price of oil goes down but the price of gas doesn't. Then when I explain the crack spread (and manage, for once, to do it without giggling), you just give me a blank stare.</grew up in a petrochemical town
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


At least in Toronto he's mainly been relegated to the dustbin of history.

Also, remember the time Mayor Mel called in the army to dig Toronto out after a snowfall?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Wisconsin (suburb of Milwaukee), and have been in Southern Ontario now for 15 years. The climates seem remarkably similar to me. Over the last two years I've picked up running, and unlike Fizz, but I can't stand a balaclava or face mask of any sort. Last night it was -15C with windchill of -24C. I was out running. With a running group. There were 28 people by my count excluding the coach. So no, not all Canadians are afraid of the weather and will go out.

My main complaint of the winter is the sidewalk and trail conditions. What I hate is when it snows, gets a little warm and people trample the snow into irregular foot print shapes (all of whom have tiny, near-hoof sized shoes unlike mine) and then there's a hard freeze making an ice with various 1-3 inch irregular bulges. Then they'll be an inch of powder on top of that so you can't even see which way your feet are going to twist; just to keep things interesting.

My city only plows sidewalks not on personal property. In theory sidewalks on personal property are the owner's duty to maintain, but bylaw only responds to complaints and doesn't do any proactive warning/clearing (at owner's cost). I find it annoying to spend a minute to put on boots and a coat to walk the dogs, I don't see myself spending time on the phone to report an uncleared driveway, much less the 50 I'll run by. As such with the current state of ice, my common routes are switching from trails to roads busy enough that there's little residential properties (or roads with little enough traffic that I can run on them and ditch the sidewalks. I find running alongside heavy traffic (even if the sidewalk is 5 feet separated from the road) to be far more annoying than the cold. The ball of my left foot still feels bruised from Sunday from uneven ice when I tested a trail before moving back to roads.

My 80 year old neighbor at my last place would be wearing a sweater if he was outside in the 32C heat; it definitely seems to be a thing of appreciating heat / disliking the cold as one ages. I know I used to be fine in just a flannel shirt down to 0C, but now I'll put on a jacket to walk the dogs if it's under 5C; I guess I'm becomming part of the problem.

Last winter was pretty much the same as this year; brief bit of snow/cold in November followed by a mostly mild December. Then we got a bunch of polar vortex'es :/

My favourite weather related Rick Mercer clip.
posted by nobeagle at 1:02 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Christmas in Ottawa this year was unreal---shirtsleeve weather.

It's only recently gotten decently cold. The canal isn't anywhere near frozen yet. Skating season doesn't really look promising.

But we did finally get sundogs* this morning (via r/ottawa) which is all kinds of fabulous.

*Sundogs are a kind of refractive halo around the sun caused by ice crystals in the air. They only happen when it's cold and clear.
posted by bonehead at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have loved this winter so far, minus yesterday and today. The last two winters here in Kingston were just depressing, never-relenting, grind-you-down monsters.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 1:20 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm from Northern Alberta. It wasn't unusual to have -45C cold snaps in January/February every year.

I live in central Alberta now and the average cold snap is about -35C.

If there's a perceivable difference, I can't figure it out. It's just REALLY FREAKING COLD.

Fuck. Winter.
posted by brain.eat.brain at 1:55 PM on January 5, 2016


I think it is a tribute to Canadian efficiency and sensibility that we are no longer complaining about someone complaining about complaining about the weather, but now simply complaining about the weather.


As we should be.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:04 PM on January 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


Here in Michigan I often think of the penultimate line of Robert Service's "The Cremation Of Sam McGee". I'm sure many folks in Canada have felt the same way.
"And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

Go read the whole thing, it's wonderful.

posted by TDavis at 2:08 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


After years of mixed but mostly negative feelings about Toronto winters, I finally figured out last year how to be relatively warm, comfortable and even joyful on the coldest and windiest days: SKIRTS.

After a few winters of stuffing one or two layers of long underwear or tights under my trousers when I walked or biked, and rarely feeling warm enough, I started commuting downtown by bike in appropriate layers for -30C with windchill:

0: standard set of undies
1: t-shirt and tights or thermals or leggings plus GOOD wool socks (double up if needed)
2: light hoodie and more thermals or leggings, plus a heavyweight/wind-resistant skater skirt
3: helmet, fluffy neck gaiter pulled up to nose level, parka, lined mitts and fluffy waterproof boots

I layer more lightly for less bleak days but OH MY GOD you are NEVER cold in a skirt (mini or long) as long as you layer up your legs appropriately. You move more easily than you do in wrinkly thermals + trousers, and you feel all jaunty and badass because SKIRT.

(Bad road surfaces still suck. Cold, damp winds still suck. But everything sucks less in a skirt.)
posted by maudlin at 2:41 PM on January 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


You make me wish I could pull off wearing a kilt without looking like a dweeb, maudlin.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:49 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


But if a tough winter day in the Prairies constitutes, say, at least five centimetres of snowfall and a minimum temperature at or below -20° C

This measurement doesn't really make sense to me. In Minnesota and Wisconsin the snowy days are usually relatively warm, and then the frigid cold comes through afterward. So this stat would tell you how many fast-moving storms you had or ones where the snow was timed right or whatever but it wouldn't really tell you much about how harsh the winter was, overall.

I know exactly nothing about weather stuff, though, so maybe it doesn't work like this farther north?

Anyway, I like winter. A lot. And complain about it. A lot.
posted by gerstle at 3:04 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


sorry, Canadians, I will not use Celsius despite coming on over half a decade living here

That's all sorts of fucked up. But then you can bike to the US from Kingston, so ya basta with claiming to speak for Canada.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:19 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love winters in Calgary. I prefer winter here to summer anywhere I lived in the US aside from Portland (where I went to college).
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:20 PM on January 5, 2016


I have two stories (well, lots more, but) that I like to tell people about Canadian winter experiences.

When I was maybe 12 or so, late 70s, I was a boy scout in my northern BC village. Our scout leaders were teachers at the high school, and both sled dog enthusiasts. One winter they decided we'd do a winter camping adventure thing, and there were about 10 of us whose parents were crazy enough to give permission.

We were driven out in 4WD vehicles along the southern edge of the big lake near the town, to the end of the road, basically, and then the sled teams were set up and loaded up with gear, and we hiked through very deep snow indeed about another hour further along the lake. The idea was that we were going to go full on -- three big canvas tents, floorless. We'd dig emplacements in the snow, cut and lay down pine boughs for flooring, set up steel wood stoves inside that vented through chimneys, gather firewood and rough it overnight.

It didn't really go according to plan. I don't remember how well the other tent-teams did, but our stove just wouldn't stay lit. And, as night came on (dark by about 4pm at this time of the year), it became clear that this was going to be one of the coldest nights of the year. It got to well below -40C, pretty quick, and it was cold in that tent. I was actually suffering less than some of the other guys, because my dad (not a big outdoors guy) for some reason had owned a military-style arctic survival sleeping bag, ludicrously thick down-filled and a fur-lined hood and breathing tube and all that, but the other three kids in my tent were less well-prepared. I honestly thought we were going to die.

So did our parents, apparently, because in the middle of the night, we were woken up by a group of dads who'd decided that maybe the whole thing wasn't such a good idea after all, and had driven and hiked out to take us home, or at least check on whether we were dead or not. Piling in to one of the warm trucks to head back home was one of the most pleasurable physical experiences I can remember from my young life.

The other one was from the early 90s when I was living in Whistler ski resort, another of those coldest-night-of-the-year things. We were living in a pretty crappy, old school log cabin (of which there aren't many left in the increasingly upscale resort), up in the northernmost neighbourhood a few kilometres from Whistler village itself, Emerald Estates. Me and a couple of Ontario boys, and two women, from England and Australia. A big snow and windstorm came through, and the power went out. For three days. As the temperature dropped, again past that magic Canadian number of -40C. Apparently with the wind chill, it was -70 to -80 on top of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and skiing was shut down.

Well, we had a fireplace, but because we were young and dumb and drunk most of the time, we didn't have much in the way of wood. We burned all we had, and by the second night, hotels in the village (where the power had come back on) were offering free rooms to locals who still had no power, but we were all romantic and decided we'd stick it out, because that was the cool (literally) thing to do.

We ended up burning furniture, magazines, anything we could. We huddled up with the dogs in front of the guttering fire and drank whiskey. That was another very, very cold Canadian night. But I'm sure, just like I have the story to tell, our English and Aussie friends have been telling it in bars for the last couple of decades, too.

I love Canadian winters -- from afar, these days, and where I live in the southern bit of Korea has winters comparable to Vancouver, if drier, so it's not bad at all -- but I actually did know a few people who, mostly thanks to youth and booze and bad decisions, died in snowbanks, so I have deep respect for them, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:44 PM on January 5, 2016 [4 favorites]




sorry, Canadians, I will not use Celsius despite coming on over half a decade living here

Resident of Canada since 1962 - I still continue ignoring Celsius temps. Double it and add 30, baby.
posted by davebush at 5:32 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I finally figured out last year how to be relatively warm, comfortable and even joyful on the coldest and windiest days: SKIRTS.

me: i have a brilliant invention
me: it's like a scarf for your butt and you wear it when it is too cold for just one pants but not cold enough for two pants
my frand: you invented a skirt
me: it's a BUTT SCARF
my frand: it's a skirt and it's like the first item of clothing that humans invented when we stopped being monkeys
posted by poffin boffin at 5:34 PM on January 5, 2016 [18 favorites]


It's the wind that'll get ya.
posted by CKmtl at 5:41 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you haven't listened to the linked rant in CKmtl's comment, you must.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:18 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Card Cheat: "This is how every storm is reported nowadays."

Oh, you missed the perfect opportunity for the other Kent Brockman snow one ("the killer storm bearing down on us like a shotgun full of snow").
posted by Chrysostom at 6:59 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


My usual route to work is alongside a lakefront park. Like a numpty, lulled by 32F temperatures this AM, I did not wear my snow boots, instantly forgetting that they do not plow the pathway to this park (WHY U NO DO DIS KINGSTON). Halfway to work, in fear of slipping and falling, all I could think was that I made a terrible mistake.
posted by Kitteh at 7:25 AM on January 6, 2016


Stav, your story reminds me of a winter camping experience with my scout troop. In previous years, the leaders had brought along straw bales, which were broken up and used as insulation under the tent floor. This particular year the new leader got the memo to bring the straw, but decided that the bales should be used for sitting on, not as insulation. I remember being really angry about it, not least when I was freezing my ass off that night.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, Southern Ontario's normally mild winters make the backyard ice rink aficionados appreciate the few deep winters that much more.

That is, if they don't get fined for having a rink in their yard.

And in other important Canadian skating news:
Skating counterclockwise: a great Canadian mystery.
posted by Kabanos at 11:07 AM on January 6, 2016


sorry, Canadians, I will not use Celsius despite coming on over half a decade living here

I use Celsius in the winter because it makes sense to have freezing at zero and Fahrenheit in the summer because getting close to 100 feels meaningful.
posted by srboisvert at 4:51 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I use Celsius in the winter because it makes sense to have freezing at zero and Fahrenheit in the summer because getting close to 100 feels meaningful.

Reaching 100°C is far more meaningful.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:51 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Skating counterclockwise: a great Canadian mystery.

This is not mysterious at all. It's road rules. You skate on the right side of oncoming traffic. In an oval, that means counterclockwise.
Even animals like dogs and horses tend to race counterclockwise, though maybe there are exceptions in places like the U.K. and Australia.
I rest my case.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:56 PM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sys Rq: "Reaching 100°C is far more meaningful."

Not for very long.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2016


I never noticed the counter-clockwise thing before but yeah, at both outdoor rinks we've skated at this year everyone was skating counter-clockwise. At the arena we go to every week though (which is much more actively supervised) the flow is clockwise.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:25 AM on January 11, 2016


In better rinks they switch directions every so often so you don't end up with just one tired leg.
posted by GuyZero at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


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