The Power of (S)NOW!

You know when you wake up and you glance out the window groggily as you make your way through your morning routine?  You’re barely half awake, yet you subconsciously need to confirm what the weather looks like before you start your…

…and then, BOOM!  White everywhere!  Welcome to beautiful Canadian winter, baby! It’s here!

Yes, yes, I know, it’s cold and your boots are heavy and it’s hard to hold anything when you’re wearing those goofy gloves. But man, is it beautiful, and clean and fresh and exciting…admit it.  You love snow. I know you do.

I like winter because it’s such a dramatic and refreshing change from the rest of the year.  A dramatic weather change like this helps you to remember where you are, and what you were doing when it happened. Also, I love winter because it brings people together, indoors, playing games and swapping stories (or apps) to help stay warm and cozy. That’s the power of snow.

For those of you experiencing this gorgeous Canadian precipitation, breathe it in and enjoy.  These are the memories that living in a foreign country are made of.  Stay warm and take lots of pictures, my friends!  I guarantee your friends back home won’t believe it.

Why do you love winter?  Leave a comment below and let us know!


The weather is warmer, the grass is bright green, and we’ve all finished watching Breaking Bad.  Time to get outside and play some sports!

You can learn a lot about yourself by doing sports (like how good you look in shorts), and you can actually learn a lot of English, too.  Between high school and university I rowed for seven years, and learned a lot of language out on the water.  We used to chant, “ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL” before every race.  It means we promised to work as a team, to do it for ourselves and every team member, equally.  Unfortunately the rest of the language we used out on the water isn’t appropriate for sharing, but I can show you some practical sports idioms! Check out this awesome video to help get your ‘head in the game’ (to focus on what’s important):











The Inuit

INUKSHUK; for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, and food caches in the frozen Arctic climates.
INUKSHUK; for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, and food caches in the frozen Arctic climates.

To me, it often feels like we talk about natives in Canada as if they only existed in the past.  We’ve heard the ancient stories about first settlers meeting native tribes, the nomadic hunters, and how at first they traded their goods with the Europeans.  It’s interesting history, sure, but the next generation native cultures in Canada are making ‘new’ history all the time.

Take the Inuit people in Nunavut, Canada’s arctic.  Nunavut is the first official territory (1999) with official governing status over its people.  That’s a huge deal!  No other native group in the world has managed to rise above the controversy and oppression of their past, not to mention have national recognition and governing power. And what’s really interesting is that the Inuit new generation are the first to write their history down!  So, as a result, the oral history of Nunavut is still a big part of this new territory’s future.  They are actively teaching the youth about the land, the culture, and the traditions so their history isn’t lost.  Check out this video from the National Geographic that discusses the Inuit oral tradition, it’s pretty cool:

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Inuit diet, hunting traditions, and language need to be passed down to the next generation otherwise their amazing history will be lost.  Whale fat instead of hamburgers.  Storytelling instead of texting.  I mean, this image doesn’t reflect modern Iqaluit, but it’s how the old generation lived!  And not that long ago!

I had the unique opportunity to live in Nunavut in the year 2000.  I lived on Cornwallis Island in a 200-person village called Resolute Bay.  Resolute Bay is the second most northern community before the North Pole, and in the winter temperatures got as low as -80 with the wind chill.  (This is why I almost never complain about the cold in Ontario!) Honestly, I felt like I was living on the moon!  I went to Nunavut for my first teaching job after university, where I taught kindergarten.  Even though I worked up there as a teacher, it was me who received the education. The Inuit people are wise, understanding, and gentle people.  They have an insight on life like nothing I’ve ever known, born from years in a tight community and culture, not to mention on harsh land.


Your Friendly Canadians

Ah, Canadians!  Don’t you just love them?

If Canadians were animals, countries would fight over who could keep them in their zoos, like panda bears.

If Canadians were food, there’d be a line up outside their restaurant a million blocks long, like that soup place on Seinfeld.

If Canadians were a natural disaster…wait.  Hang on.  Canadians would never be a natural disaster.  Scratch that.

If Canadians were a gadget, they’d be a limited edition and we’d have to keep them in our pockets for fear of losing them, like Google Glass.

If Canadians were fashion, you’d have to wear sunglasses to protect yourself from its awesomeness, like something out of Bjork’s wardrobe.

Why do we love Canadians?  Because they’re friendly, of course!

Canadians will open the door for you even when you are hundreds of meters behind!

They’ll apologize when you bump into them in public, when clearly it was your fault!

Sometimes Canadians will give you the ‘thanks’ and ‘sorry’ combination.  For example, when paying for a taxi but taking too long to leave the cab!

They’ll talk to you (often about the weather) and they’ll actually listen and care what you have to say!

Canadians make eye contact and ask, “How are you?”, and mean it!

Canadians like to wave on traffic at stop lights…from their cars!

They shovel the snow off each other’s driveways in the winter.

They’ll even pay for your coffee if you forget your wallet at Tim Hortons.  (Well, not always, but it’s happened to me before, so, there’s that.)

From shopkeepers to policemen to teachers, Canadians are some of the friendliest people in the world.  If you have chosen to come to Canada, you’ve chosen wisely.

P.S. Sorry that this post was so long.  And thanks for reading it.  Sorry.  Thanks. 🙂

Canadian Weather, Whether Sun, Rain or Snow

Spring at Ottawa Parliament, Courtesy of
Spring at Ottawa Parliament, Courtesy of

Canadians don’t live in igloos, we don’t have winter 11 months a year, and we don’t commute by dog sled.  Those are all myths!  We do, however, love to talk about the weather.  That’s because there are so many different kinds of weather, and it changes often.  This is especially true when we are between seasons, as we are now.  As we leave winter and enter spring, things can get kind of confusing.

Summer on Toronto Island, Courtesy of
Summer on Toronto Island, Courtesy of

For example, in the last three weeks, Toronto had over 25 cm of snow, followed by warm rain showers, blue skies and above 15 degree Celsius temperatures perfect for golfing.  Right now I’m looking out my window and marveling at a tree that has spring buds popping on its branches and a family of birds looking for a nest while some guy is walking by wearing a winter coat, a hat and gloves, summer shorts, and carrying an umbrella!  If you are from a country that is hot most of the time, you probably don’t need to check the weather report on the TV very often.  In Canada, we check it as often as our Facebook accounts!

Niagara River in Fall, Courtesy of
Niagara River in Fall, Courtesy of

Of course I’m exaggerating.  Canada does have four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. All are beautiful and unique in their own way.  The temperature changes drastically from one season to the next, so you should make sure to have clothing appropriate for all temperatures.

Horse and Carriage near London ON Courtesy of
Horse and Carriage near London ON Courtesy of

Here’s what we here at CultureWorks recommend:

Winter Average temperatures vary between -2 oC and -10oC. Winters in Ontario tend to be snowy and icy. Pack winter boots, a winter coat, scarves, gloves, a hat, warm sweaters, etc.
Spring Temperatures in the springtime vary from cool to hot. The weather is typically a mixture of rain and sun. Pack a lined jacket/light coat, a raincoat, rain-boots, an umbrella, etc.
Summer Average temperatures vary between 25oC and 35oC. Summers are hot with occasional rainfall. Pack shorts, t-shirts, sandals, light fabrics (cotton, linen), bathing suits, etc.
Autumn Autumn temperatures are also variable. The weather can be hot like the summer or cold like the winter. Autumns are windy and can be rainy. Pack sweaters, lined jackets/light coats, a raincoat, rain-boots, an umbrella, etc.

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