Winter is no doubt the harshest season in Canada. The weather can drop below -40 degrees Celsius over night, and stay there for weeks. However, being stuck inside the comfort of your home can cause cabin fever in no time. The need to get outside, to do something fun, is very strong in this culture. There are countless things to do in the winter to keep yourself entertained, but to truly experience the Canadian outdoors you’ll need to take part in at least some of these winter activities.
1. Dog Sledding
Take a guided trip and command your own team of dogs. There are several options to choose from in different areas of Canada. Be sure you’re ready to brave the cold. Overnight trips are available as well. Dog Sledding trips are perfect for families and couples, or anyone who wants to see some of the most remote parts of Canada.
Tobogganing (or sledding) is one of the most popular things to do in the winter. Grab a crazy carpet, GT, wooden toboggan, anything that’ll let you slide, and aimlessly propel yourself downhill. Get ready for face washes, snow in your boots, ice burn, and tingling fingers. But like the heat in the kitchen, if you can’t take the cold, stay out of the snow.
Many provinces, such as Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, have an intricate network of trails for snowmobiles. Many of which are groomed as well. Find your nearest ski doo rental shop and hop on a Polaris. The thrill is that of riding a motorcycling all terrain through the snow. It’s awesomeness won’t let you down.
Canadians have an unhealthy obsession with fishing. Spring, summer, fall, and even winter, there’s always something to catch. Drive to the nearest lake and expect to see a village of wooden shocks on top of the ice. Many Fishing Supply Stores will have their own shack, and some even rent them out. Be sure to bring coffee or hot mocha.
Snowshoes are one of those great inventions that made the Settlers in Canada extremely thankful to have. Several parks around Canada offer guided tours, including Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Glacier National Park. Although not nearly as thrilling as snowboarding or skiing, this activity is great for snapping pictures of the Canadian terrain.
Most skiing and snowboarding activities take place on the west coast of Canada, between Alberta and British Columbia. Rentals are available at nearly every ski shop once you make it into one of the many mountain villages. Rentals are occasionally done right at mountain as well. Canada has some of the best mountains for skiing and snowboarding, so be sure to give it a go during the winter.
Picture yourself skiing down a mountain. Now picture that there is no mountain and you’re pushing yourself through the flat snow. Doesn’t sound all that awesome does it? Well believe it or not this is still a popular sport in Canada, and can offer some great views of Canada’s winter landscape. Be prepared for a sore body as this is an extreme workout for people who’ve never done it before. Bring a camera along as you should have plenty of time to snap a few pictures while waiting to catch your breath.
Having the ability to construct a shelter out of nothing but snow and ice is a valuable skill to have. Despite the fact that it can take a good few hours out in the snow to complete one, once you’ve got everything finished, there is nothing like relaxing in the hollow sound of a Quinzhee or Igloo. As a kid I used to build a couple of these every winter. Until I got bored and put my smash-face on. They make the perfect forts for snowball fights and can keep you warm in the harsh winter conditions of Canada.
The art of molding a perfect snowball is a skill most Canadians possess. It’s something we acquire from birth really. We can tell you which snow to use, which to avoid, and how to properly remove the frozen sheet of snow which gives access to the hidden ‘good stuff’. In recent years, snowball fights have been banned at most schools, and there are always a few nutty parents screaming devil’s play at the sight of kids hurling snow and ice at one another. This hasn’t stopped snowball fights from happening. Whether it’s getting in a snowball fight with some random kids at a park, or taking part in a drunken snowball fight after a night out of partying, you should always be on your toes and be ready for a snowball fight to break out. Avoid picking up that frozen block of ice to throw, breaking faces is one of the few rules of war. Dirty snowballs are sometimes fair game, just try not to be the first to throw them.
By late December, most ponds and lakes have frozen over, and the cities have finished their public skating rinks in the parks, giving people another surface to play on. Whether it’s a quick game of hockey, or just practicing your sweet Elvis Stojko moves, you’ll have a good time out on the ice. There’s something magical about the sound of blades tearing through ice, the sound of pucks hitting the boards, the swish and spray of someone putting on the breaks, and the sight of your own breathe following you wherever you go. Depending on where you are, public skating rinks and ponds are nearly everywhere. Just be sure to watch for signs indicating ‘Thin Ice’, and never skate on pond or lake ice alone.