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The Traveler

Weather we like it hot or cold

By Suzanne Morphet

Canadians are obsessed with the weather. Maybe it’s because we have it in spades. And we’re not talking just cold and snow. We probably have as many ‘flavors’ of weather as Häagen-Dazs has ice-cream.

Our national weather office crunched the numbers for our 100 largest cities and came up with Canada’s Weather Winners. Herewith, a guide to finding the perfect weather for your particular personality, sunny or otherwise.

You like a challenge: Whatever the season, St. John’s, Newfoundland offers the toughest combination of weather you’ll find in any of our cities. It’s our foggiest city, our windiest and has more days of freezing rain than any other except for Gander, NL. Sunny days are few and far between. Of course, this explains why the people are some of the friendliest and fun-loving in the country – you gotta be special to endure weather like this. Dress for it in exquisite handknit sweaters and hats from NONIA on Water Street – the oldest street in the oldest city in North America.

You’re a softie: Victoria and Nanaimo – both on Vancouver Island in British Columbia tie for the most comfortable weather in Canada. Not too hot in summer, not too cold in winter. They’re also a lot dryer and sunnier than most people think. Victoria gets less snow than anywhere in the country while Nanaimo boasts the clearest summer skies. No wonder people spend so much time outside here. In Victoria, kayak the Inner Harbour for splendid views of the old town. In Nanaimo, take a self-guided walking tour along the Nanaimo Bar Trail and decide for yourself who makes the best of these world-famous treats.

You like sizzling heat: Kamloops, BC boasts the highest summer temperatures with the mercury consistently climbing into the high 20sC (80sF) in July and August. One day it reached 40.6C (105F)! Locals grab a tube and float down the Thompson River on those lazy hot days. The tourism folks have a motto: ‘Playtime. Redefined’.

You don’t mind freezing your butt off! Head north to Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories for the lowest average temperatures year-round. Yellowknifers can also boast about having the most extreme wind chill and the longest snow-cover – up to 190 days every year. During the dark fall and winter months enjoy Yellowknife’s fantastic northern lights at Aurora Village. When your fingers and toes start to freeze, retreat inside a heated tipi. In summer, Yellowknife basks in sunshine with the sunniest weather in the country.

You like dancing in the rain: Prince Rupert on BC’s northwest coast is your kind of place. Once known as ‘the halibut capital of the world’, Prince Rupert is the wettest city in Canada, getting almost 2.5 metres (eight feet) of rain a year. When you’ve had enough rain, explore the rich history of the northwest coast at the world-class Museum of Northern BC.

You like to be awed: Southern Ontario is famous for hot, sticky summers; the perfect ingredients for creating thunder and lightning storms. So it’s no coincidence that Windsor, our most humid city and one of our hottest (just a 3.5-hour drive from Toronto), also has the most days of thunderstorm activity. Daggers of lightning and thunderous claps will keep you entertained on many a summer evening. During the day, discover how Hiram Walker came to Canada from the US and found fame and fortune with his Canadian Club Whiskey.

You want a taste of everything: Montréal is the quintessential Canadian city for weather. It gets an average amount of just about everything: rain, snow, heat, cold, sun and wind. But just because the weather is average doesn’t mean the city is. Montréal is the world’s second-largest French-speaking city and one of Canada’s most exciting, most romantic and arguably our most cosmopolitan city. Explore the old city in a horse-driven carriage, by bicycle or by foot. The mix of weather you’ll experience is a bonus.


Photo © Aurora Village, Yellowknife/Tania Spencer, GNWT

Weather we like it hot or cold