Canada’s Climate: The Best of All Worlds
Some view Canada as a land of permanent winter — snowy mountains for skiing and frozen lakes for ice fishing. This only tells half the story of the climate of Canada.
Although it’s true that temperatures can drop as low as -13°F in the winter, summer months can be as warm as 95°F. While the Arctic region above the tree line has freezing temperatures for all but two weeks out of fifty-two, other parts of Canada are far more temperate and welcoming.
How cold is Canada’s winter?
Winters are snowy and windy near the Great Lakes and along the Saint Lawrence River, while temperatures fluctuate greatly in Atlantic Canada due to the effects of passing storms. In the west, the average winter temperature is 39°F. Southern Alberta is home to warm, dry foehn winds, known as “Chinooks,” which can reach speeds of over 93 miles per hour. These winds occur all year round but are considered especially welcome in winter, as the powerful gusts can melt ice in record time; this is why locals sometimes say that "Chinook" means “ice eater.”
In the east of the country, snowfall often surpasses 8 inches. Winter, however, is the ideal time for ice fishing, whether you’re after walleye in the Bay of Quinte in Ontario or looking for trout and salmon beneath the frozen surface of Lake Memphremagog in Quebec.
Spring flowers in bloom
Along the coast of British Columbia, spring begins early in February. Temperature-wise, Canada’s climate in spring is not much different to its climate in autumn. The first flowers bloom in March, although the leaves don’t start to sprout until April or May. If you’re planning a ski trip, you can visit Banff or Whistler, where the snow continues to fall until May. Other popular destinations include the sunny wine-growing region of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, and the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, where much of the country’s famous maple syrup is produced.
Sunny summer, with a chance of fog
Of Canada’s largest cities, the warmest summers can be found in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto; the average summer temperature is about 68°F. However, Canada’s summers aren’t always so sunny – in Newfoundland, the cold water from the north meeting the warm Gulf Stream results in fog, which is present for 84% of the summer. With rugged mountain ranges and quaint seaside villages, it’s still a beautiful island under all that mist!
Why an autumn visit is worthwhile
Canada’s climate in autumn makes this one of the best times for visiting, when you can enjoy the crisp air and gorgeous foliage as the leaves turn from green to red, yellow, and gold. Dropping temperatures provide some relief from the heat and humidity of the summer months, and the first snowfall doesn’t usually come until early November. Discover the aspen and spruce trees in the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks in Alberta or check out the thousand-year-old cedars in Bruce Peninsula National Park in Ontario. Autumn is also a great time for berry picking and bird watching.
A country for all seasons
Canada is the second-largest country on earth in terms of area (next to Russia) and has the biggest range in latitude, making the climate of Canada extremely varied. One thing’s for sure: no matter what your favorite weather is, you’ll find it in Canada.