While some misconceptions about Canadian weather may still exist, gone are the days when people thought our chief mode of transportation was the snowmobile. Depending on where you are in the country, you can indeed experience some extreme weather, but if you're dressed for it, both our chilly winters and warm summers can offer some great outdoor opportunities.
Here's a glimpse of some temperatures you're likely to experience in a Canadian winter. On the milder West Coast, temperatures in Vancouver range from 0 to 6 degrees Celsius in January, and rainfall during this month can be as heavy as 132 millimetres. Things get a bit chillier on the Prairies - dipping as low as minus 25 in Winnipeg, for example. In Quebec and Ontario temperatures can drop to the minus mid-teens. It gets a bit milder towards the East Coast (albeit rainier), with January temperatures ranging from minus 9 to minus 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
And for most of Canada, we had better talk about snow. In many parts of the country, snow and ice cover much of the ground during the winter months. For a child growing up in the prairies, this doesn't mean endless days spent staring out of the window waiting for spring, it means time to climb into your snowsuit and head to the local playground, where skating rinks have been created over the grass. It means building snowmen, snowball fights, tobogganing and great skiing. You might think that for those with less leisure time, trying to get to university or work, the snow and cold weather could prove more challenging than fun. But in Canadian cities where there is an abundance of both, great pains have been taken to minimize the discomfort of people trying to get from one place to another. Some universities in Canada have built interconnecting indoor tunnels or walkways so students don't have to bundle up every time they change classes. Shopping malls are also often connected in this way.
Winter is only one of four distinct seasons in Canada. We shouldn't neglect our beautiful springs, warm summers, and breathtaking autumns. July temperatures across the country routinely climb to the mid twenties, and are particularly warm in parts of Quebec, Ontario and the Okanagan in BC. Like winter, our beautiful summer weather gives rise to all kinds of outdoor adventure, such as camping, hiking, and rafting. For those who would prefer to stay in the city, Canada hosts numerous world-class events and festivals during the summer months, such as the international jazz festivals in Montreal and Vancouver, the Stratford Shakespeare festival in Ontario, and the Calgary Stampede.
Regardless of the time of year, Canada has much to offer residents and travelers alike. Here's a personal account of a contributor to the information exchange at the government of Canada's Spirit of Canada web site: "Any time is a good time to go to Canada. I was there some years back for a couple of months in March/April as part of a university project - I have to say I probably wouldn't have gone at this time of year otherwise but I'm so glad I did. It was still cold but in that really beautiful clear, sunny, crisp way.
I was in Toronto for the most part but also traveled over to Saskatchewan (via Greyhound) and saw some of the most amazing changes in scenery. I'm a big believer in visiting places when they are in so-called 'out-of-season' - you get all the beauty of the place and kind hospitality of the Canadian people without the hordes. I also traveled around BC in springtime, again words can't really describe how beautiful this was - at this time we could drive for miles and not see another person. It almost felt like I had the place to myself!"
For more information about Canadian weather, visit the Weather Network's site at: www.theweathernetwork.com.