10 ways to Die in Canada

dangers in canadaDespite what they say, Canada can be pretty dangerous. In fact, it might even be it’s middle name. Sure we might not have the most poisonous creatures on our continent, nor any ongoing wars. But there are a few things you should know. So before you set out to see the ‘True North Strong and Free’, be sure to strap on your thinking cap, and remember the dangers in Canada.


1) Become Bear Dinner

Canada is home to Black Bears, Brown Bears, Grizzly Bears, and Polar Bears. If you’re in bear country, keep your wits about. Attacks are not all that uncommon. If you make it into the Rockies you’re bound to hear all the recent bear news. Unfortunately tourists tend to try to feed them. Which is possibly one of the worst things you could do. For your own safety, and for the bears. The saying goes, “A fed bear is a dead bear” – If you feed them once they’re not going to shy away from humans anymore. Which means the Park Ranger will usually have to put them down. Especially if the bear decides to put you down. (that means he eats you)

If you do have an encounter with any bear, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of survival:

  • No sudden movements – if you turn and run, they will chase, and they will always outrun you, they can run as fast as a horse, even uphill.
  • Stay calm – Stand your ground, talk to the bear, don’t scream or shout. Bears sometimes try and call your bluff, and will charge then turn or stop right away. It’s not going to be easy, but stand your ground.
  • If you have bear mace, have it ready.
  • Back away slowly – Keep your backpack on, it can act as protection if the bear attacks.
  • If the bear lets you go, leave the area. It’s their turf. If, however, it doesn’t, assume foetal position.
  • If being eaten by a bear isn’t the way you want to go, do some reading up. Parks Canada has a big article worth reading, which goes over everything. Read it here.

2) Get West Nile Virus

Though not nearly as gruesome of a death as being attacked by a bear, West Nile isn’t your average flu. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and can cause fatal inflammation of the brain and the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms also include fever, headaches and body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph glands. If left untreated West Nile Virus can lead to a stiff neck, disorientation, comas, tremors, paralysis, and occasionally death. (Westside!) There is currently no vaccine against West Nile, so the safest thing you could do is keep Insect Repellent on while you’re doing anything outdoors. In 2007 there were 2, 215 human cases of West Nile Virus.

3) Death by Spider Bite

Canada’s spiders are primarily non-venomous. But there are a few species that can lead to you being 6 feet under if not treated soon.

The Black Widow Spider – A small black spider with a small red hourglassCanada Black Widow Spider shape on it back. It’s normally found in Western Canada, and is worth keeping an eye out for. They’re usually found in or near woodpiles, garages, and around swimming pools. The majority of bites happen in suburban and rural areas. You’re most likely to run into them between April and October. Symptoms include sharp pain that turns into swelling and redness around the bite. Small fang marks like red dots. Occasionally severe symptoms appear in as little as 30 minutes, which include muscle cramps, spasms, chills, fever, nausea, or vomiting. If you do get bit, stay calm, panicking will increase the blood flow and spread the venom, and seek medical assistance immediately.

The Brown Recluse Spider – Normally only 6 – 20 mm large, it’s brown and occasionally deep yellow. It usually has distinctive markings on its back, look for a Violin like marking pointing to it’s back. It’s primarily found in south-east Ontario and southern Quebec. The spider usually only bites if it’s pressed against the skin, such as when caught in clothes, bedding, bathing suits, and towels. Symptoms for a Brown Recluse Spider sting include nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, rashes, and fever. If you’re unfortunate enough to get bit by one of these guys, get to a hospital or medical center for attention.

Edit: It appears a lot of people are commenting that Brown Recluse Spiders aren’t in Canada. That could very well be. I’ve never personally seen one. I’m certainly no spiderologist, but a quick google search shows people claiming to be bit by them. They too aren’t likely spider-ologists, so chances are this list should be 9. 

4) Poisoned by Rattlesnakes

Believe it or not but Canada has Rattlesnakes. They are primarily found in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Canada has four different types of rattlesnakes, all of which can pose a threat to you if provoked or stepped on. The chances of you finding one are pretty slim to nil, as they are already a threatened species. All it takes is one bite. Then you’re infected with Canadian venom. Don’t confuse this with regular venom. This stuff is potent. Not only can it cause irritation, it has even been known to cause paralysis, and in rare occasions, death. So tread lightly fellow traveller. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

5. Ended by Elk

Elk are like caribou’s bigger, badder cousins with a severe temper. People have a habit of assuming they’re timid and cute, when in fact they’re big stomping ferocious creatures. Similar to a raging mustang, or perhaps the yeti. All of which should be equally respected.

The main thing worth mentioning is to keep a safe distance. I know how easy it is to get caught up in all that crazy excitement. “Three feet closer and I’ll have the perfect picture”.” Well listen here Mr. Powershot, what good is a picture of the animal that killed you! Not very. So watch out during rutting season, when males have a tendency to charge. And watch out for pregnant females, or when they’re with offspring. If you thought your sister-in-law was bitchy grouchy during pregnancy, you should see elk.

6. Murder by Moose

Believe it or not, there are more moose attacks in Canada than by their more ferocious counter-parts, the bears. How can this be, you may ask? Canadian Moose Well, first off, they look slow, friendly, and kind of stupid. However, they should never, ever be underestimated. Always respect the moose, if not for its size, at least for its antlers. Those things are big, perfect for murdering unsuspecting tourists.

Moose are territorial animals, and will charge you if provoked. Which means trying to feed them, or touch one, is probably not the smartest thing you can do. Moose have been the cause of death in many car accidents. Especially at night, when the lights will sometimes make moose charge towards the car. They weigh a lot. (380–720 kg (850–1580 pounds)) Any collision with one in or out of your car, could very well be your last.

7. Become Cougar Prey

Cougar attacks are rare, but when they happen, it’s always bad. The cougar is a wild feline with razor sharp claws, and jaws to match. The only good thing about being turned into cat food, is that with weapons that mean, it’s got to be a quick death. Those who have had close encounters with this cold feline tend to be camping deep in the woods or have just gone off trail during a brisk jog. I really have no information regarding how to survive an attack, so rather than giving you false hope that you could survive one, I’m just going to suggest you don’t get into a cat fight with one. The odds are stacked up against you here.

8. Ski into a tree

Imagine this, you’re snowboarding, perhaps skiing through the Rocky mountains, checking out Banff, maybe Whistler, weaving in and out of trees, enjoying the awesome powder, when all of the sudden you catch an edge. You whip face first into a tree. Then you’re dead.

Countless deaths occur every winter from a simple fall in the wrong direction. The only tip I can give is to wear a helmet. Now you may not think they’re cool, it’s your choice, kill your style, or kill yourself. If however you choose to keep your cool by not wearing a helmet, and you do take a nasty bump to the head. Do yourself a favour and get checked out. Head trauma isn’t like a sprained wrist, you shouldn’t just sleep it off. Because if you do, there’s a chance you’ll never wake up.

9. Buried by Avalanche

It’s become a yearly occurrence in Canada. Skiers & snowboarders getting caught in an Avalanche. It’s almost to be expected now, which is unfortunate, because it can be prevented. If you don’t have experience in backcountry riding, avoid it. I know first hand how seducing 4-5 feet of powder can be, and have had my very own close call back when I was younger. The risks really outweigh the benefits here. Unless you’ve taken your avalanche safety course,Whistler Canada Rocky Mountains and are trained to detect subtle differences in snow type, stay on trail. Mountain staff aren’t liable at all and some may not even consider looking for you out of bounds, especially if you purposely blatantly ignored signs indicating that you are out of bounds. Breathing beneath a few meters of snow is one of those things you really can’t prepare yourself for. If you’re looking for thrill, head to the terrain park. Or better yet, the bar.

10. Freeze! To death!

Another common occurrence us Canucks have grown used to hearing about is people getting caught in a Blizzard or White-out. Rather than risking getting their car stuck they pull over. (Which actually is a great idea) – Unfortunately somewhere along the lines their decision making skills do a complete 180, and rather than hanging out until the storm passes, they decide to walk for help. Now there are 3 reasons this is a bad idea;

1) It’s Cold – Blizzards in Canada are usually around –30 degrees Celsius, and can get as cold as –50 degrees with wind chill. Skin freezes in minutes at this temperature. So rather than turning into the next ‘Encino Man’, stay in the car, keep warm. Someone will find you!

2) No direction – During a blizzard you’re lucky if you can see 5 feet ahead of you. Disorientation kicks in at this point. Next thing you know you’re heading in the wrong direction, can’t find your way back to the car, and with those crazy cold temperatures, you die.

3) Why leave a good shelter? – Your car can keep you alive for a few days at least, you’ve got all the water you can ask for, a shelter from wind. If you’re lucky enough to be with someone during a whiteout, what better way to kill some time than by cozying up to one another. (Warning: sharing body warmth can get sexy, I encourage you to not act upon these feelings, as sweating is the worst thing you can do in sub-zero temperatures)

If you’re going to be stuck in your car for an extended period and need the engine running, be sure to leave the window open a crack. Countless people die every year from Carbon Monoxide poisoning from their vehicles exhaust. Keep a bit of air circulation going and you’ll be fine. Remember, storms pass, try your best to keep a positive outlook on the situation. Perhaps take a couple pictures, document the situation. It could make for a good story…if you survive.


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19 Responses to “10 ways to Die in Canada”

  1. memory foam bed
    May 20, 2009 at 5:20 am #

    Thanks for the info. I’ll be hiking in Banff and Jasper for the first time in August so it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of these things. A few of these things I was not so aware of, especially the prevalence of West Nile.

  2. Corbin
    May 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm #

    @ memory – Sounds like a blast! I was in Banff for a couple weeks last summer doing some biking and camping, such a beautiful place. Remember to bring something warm for the evenings, it can get pretty cold by about 8pm. Just remember not to let a bit of danger ruin a good time. Have fun! Glad I could help.

  3. Dave & Deb
    May 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    I love the title! IT caught my attention. Great article. We climb at Rattlesnake point and I am always hoping that I don’t come accross one. I don’t know what I would do.

  4. Scott
    May 31, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    Whenever I drive through Banff there’s always Moose near the highway… and 30 feet away a car with toursits getting out to feed the moose. I always wonder why someone would get up to a 1200 pound animal in heat with food in your hand? Do they think it’s Bulwinkle and they’re going to have a chat? No, it’s a 1200 pound animal who’s going to skewer you with it’s horns, run in front of traffic, fall into a car with it’s body crashing into the passenger space – and crushing everyone inside. Odds are it’ll then shake itself off and go look for more tourists. They’re homicidal maniacs.

    Moose and melting igloos during Spring thaw, tourists need to watch out in Canada!


  5. Corbin
    June 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    @Scott – Haha, I know what you mean, as much as I would love to meet Bulwinkle, I tend to stay on the safe side of cautious. They’re psychotic. Crazy dangerous Canada lol.

  6. Gray
    January 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Dude, you are totally playing into my fears here! I’ve got another one for you, pretty scary: Falling through the ice on a lake and drowning because the ice closes up after you fall through it and you can’t break through to the surface again. You won’t catch me out on a frozen lake or river. Ever.
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..Recommended Reads, January 24, 2010 =-.

    • Corbin
      January 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

      I completely forgot about the dangers of falling through thin ice. I fell through the ice at in a creek when I was in highschool, easily one of the scariest situations to be in. Thankfully I had a few friends nearby help me out, but had I been alone… Yikes.

  7. Ali
    March 15, 2010 at 4:13 am #

    ah what a great post! ill definately keep those in mind when i get to canada later this year. but im sure australia coud rival canada for deadly creatures! (read: kangaroos are NOT cute and cuddly!well, sometimes.)

    great post. funny blog too.

    • Corbin
      March 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

      Thanks ali! Always glad to see a new face around here. Completely agree that australia has canada beat on things that will kill you, lol. Australia makes the dangers in Canada seem like a scraped knee in comparison.

  8. Ali
    March 16, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    haha good to know! that sounds like experience talking – have you been to australia? :)
    .-= Ali´s last blog ..lovely.bones =-.

  9. Mark
    September 7, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    Spiders are something people often overlook as being killers.
    .-= Mark´s last blog ..Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Growth Projections =-.

  10. Josh
    September 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    This post needed ten more ways to die in Canada.
    .-= Josh´s last blog ..Making Future Magic =-.

  11. chrisy
    February 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    well first of all I LIVE in canada and shure sometimes it’s a little cold but we don’t mind . This website or whatever put’s a bad name in canada Canada is awesome because we have many wild live animal places We are a rich in water and many more. you won’t die lol only if you stay outside in the winter for hours and you have a t-shirt on or something but who would do that. And yeah canada would beat austraila any day I like austraila I guess but some people there think they are the best. And I have went outside in below 40 no biggie. And ummm some off your facts are wrong a regular snow day in winter is like below 30 or 25 in some places like where I am so a billzard is much more there’s a blizzard right now and i’m waching. In the summer it is warm. I love canada because it is cold and warm. We get snow,leafs,sand and flowers too lol .good old canada

  12. chrisy
    February 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    canada and austraila are cool also so don’t get mad at me k…

  13. chrisy
    February 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    take that back form reading all your coments ♥canada♥ is awesome ☺☺☺

    • admin
      February 3, 2011 at 3:06 am #

      Thanks for commenting chrisy! I agree, Canada is awesome!

  14. Franky Jones
    August 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    You’re not likely to die of a brown recluse bite in Canada for there’s no brown recluse in Canada. They are only found in southern USA and Central America.

  15. Louise
    August 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Great article, except that Brown Recluse Spiders are not found in Canada, according to this expert:

  16. Scott Ross
    October 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    There are no brown recluse spiders in Canada.
    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_recluse_spider
    Doctors: http://www.cfp.ca/content/50/8/1098.full.pdf
    Oxford Journal: http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/4/442.long

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