How to Survive a Saskatchewan Winter


It’s no secret that I’m no fan of winter. I whine about it every chance I get – which I come by honestly, since complaining about the weather is our provincial sport (just kidding, it’s curling, but we’re seriously good at complaining about the weather here). I find the season in Saskatchewan feels like a never-ending stream of short days, brutal windchills, and various diseases du jour.

I’ve lived through 33 Saskatchewan winters now and, despite my best efforts, have yet to figure out the secret to loving the season. I’ve been searching for that one, magical thing that would transform winters into the dreamy wonderland that people who like it seem to be living in – to no avail. But even if I can’t figure out a way to love it, I do know how to survive it. This got me thinking about all the different strategies people around here use to get through the season. I put together an overview of the various winter personality types that I see most often. Personally, I take a little bit from each category to get myself through.

So, if you’re struggling with winter and need a way to deal, try out some of the following techniques and see what works for you.



Strategy #1: Celebrate it

People on team “I Love Winter” are some of the most eye-roll inducing yet also remain the happiest throughout the winter months. They’ll be the ones gushing about how pretty the snow is, bragging about their latest ski trip, or trying to convince you that winter camping is a good idea (like what in the actual f*$k). They exclaim that “there’s no bad weather if you’re dressed properly!” and always have a smile on their smug faces as they scrape every last snowflake off their driveways. They grab life by the snowballs and make the most of every bone-chilling moment.

How I use this strategy: This is probably the hardest strategy for me to implement. I can appreciate the beauty of freshly fallen snow as much as the next person, but beyond that I find most aspects of winter to be incredibly annoying. Maybe I could work a little more on practicing gratitude and looking for the positives.



Strategy #2: Pretend it isn’t happening

Firmly planted in this camp are those who “actually don’t mind winter” and seem to go about their daily lives like it’s no big deal. It’s not that they particularly love the season, it’s more like they can’t even feel the cold. You can find them out training for marathons in -25 degree windchillls or wearing grossly inappropriate footwear on icy sidewalks. They can’t understand why anyone would change up their routine just because of the weather and might suggest you “get out of the house and get some fresh air.”

How I use this strategy: I do try to get outside regularly in winter, but only with about 47 layers on. I take the dog for short walks and try my best to ignore the boot-fulls of snow, the frozen snotsicles, and the fact that I feel like an oversized marshmallow in all my winter gear.



Strategy #3: Escapism

The escapists are the masters of avoiding winter. These are the retired snow birds who we longingly watch after as they drive off into the November sunset, headed for the tropics or the deserts of the south, only to return in March or April as the last of the snow melts away. For those escapists who still have jobs or families that tie them to Saskatchewan, you can find them regularly jetting off on hot holidays. Photos of beaches and palm trees fill their Facebook feeds as they find yet another “great deal” and frantically rearrange schedules so they can get the hell out of here. They can be identified by their peeling sunburns, braided hair, and an emanation of pure joy upon hearing that there was a blizzard while they were away.

How I use this strategy: This used to be my go-to. Every year, I’d pick a spot, spend a good chunk of my winter in front of my computer researching and planning, and then head off to soak up as much sun as I could in 7-14 days. Since buying the cabin, however, our winter holidays have morphed into ice fishing at the lake. I went from tropical beaches to literally sitting on a slab of ice, outside, for hours. WTF. Expect this to make a come back next year.



Strategy #4: Hibernation

The hibernators retreat to their caves for the winter months. They begin hoarding snacks and toilet paper in the fall, to ensure they don’t have to leave their houses for anything but the most necessary obligations during winter. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget they’re around, until spring when they emerge from their front door – pale, skittish, and sensitive to loud noises. Their secret is having lots of indoor activities to keep themselves occupied – bonus points if they can be done on the couch under a blanket (think: knitting, reading, or binge-watching Netflix). Their homes are cozy little caverns filled with soft lighting, warm cups of tea, and enough pillows and blankets to get lost in.

How I use this strategy: I think this is what I’m most naturally inclined to. My levels of tiredness and crankiness seem to directly correlate to the length of day and outdoor temperature – and I’d love nothing more than to sleep through the entire season. My warm-beverage-consumption level skyrockets from November to April and I work my way through shows on Netflix like it’s my job. As for indoor hobbies – I think building a canoe in our basement certainly qualifies, though it is hard to do that wrapped up in a blanket.


So, that’s how you survive a Saskatchewan winter. Or at least how I survive a Saskatchewan winter. What other strategies do you use to get through the season?

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