How to survive the cold?

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Is it cold in Quebec City? This is the question people often ask me, but is it really a myth? Legend tells that the temperatures can go below -50 ° C. In 1816 there would have even been a year without summer!
Winter in Quebec City usually begins in November and ends around May, if it wants to. Winter is often feared and sometimes hated, winter is inevitable, winter is endless. When this period is close this feeling of fear arrives at the same time, and everyone tries as they can to survive the low temperatures. Here is a small survival guide that can be useful if you have to face the big cold!

Covering – The onion technique

Before coming to Canada I had never worn a hat or boots, and I usually thought that a coat was not used to keep you warm. But when you arrive in Quebec in winter and it is -38 °C outside, you become somehow amnesic. You have no other choice than to forget your clothing style, even if you come from the fashion capital.

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Soon you become dedicated to your new and only goal: to keep warm. Coat, boots, gloves, scarf, hat, neck warmer and tights become your greatest allies. Some people even wear ski suits to go to work!

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Now you know what to wear to face the cold. But will that be enough? Not so sure. Indeed winter is deceitful and underhand, so you will need to show some ingenuity to permanently get rid of the cold! Last winter I tried the onion technique which consists of wearing layers of clothes. Despite the lack of practical side and aesthetic, it has the credit of being effective. Another tip is to avoid wearing cotton because it absorbs and maintains moisture.

Stay positive

If you meet Quebeckers during winter you can be sure that they will try by all means to make you feel reassured.

– “You’ll see it’s not every day like that, it is less cold some days.”
At first you begin to have hope again, but when the temperature – 20°C on average everyday, you ask yourself after a few weeks if it will not be like that all winter … Well apparently last winter was one of the coldest in recent years, bad luck?

– “Summer is coming, it will really be fun with the sun and festivals.”
The discussion is very interesting because it allows you to learn about all the activities you can do during the summer, that will be in 6 months…Otherwise what can we do in winter?

– “It’s not so bad anyway because we’ve already been through worse.”
Totally agree. However I don’t mind not having the chance to know Mister Worse, you know it’s already -30°C outside so if I can avoid “worse” it’s really fine for me, thank you!

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Optimize time

To avoid the cold you will have to learn how to organize your time. You will learn by heart the bus schedule so as not to wait 30 minutes in the cold before taking the next one. People who have a car are using a remote starter 10 minutes before going outside: that way the motor is already hot when they arrive and it also helps to remove the snow. When you do your shopping you will try not to forget anything to avoid coming back again. Another feature of winter: you look very often at the current weather!

Finally if you like your hands you will think twice before removing your gloves. I tried it several times this winter and I can tell that it quickly becomes a nightmare!

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Hibernate or do activities?

In winter there are 2 schools. The first one argues that you should stay at home, while the second speaks for activities. For some it means a total giving up of all forms of social life during 6 months, for others it is an inability to remain in place. There is no right or wrong solution, the importance is to keep the mind busy. For activities most people choose skiing, snowshoeing, skating or other sports.

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To survive the cold many people choose to fly to the sun during the winter. In February, a large majority of Quebeckers are going to the “South” (understand Cuba, Florida, Mexico or Dominican Republic) and become the sedentaries of its many resorts, so as to escape the cold while filling up on vitamin D.
This way out is a nice one but unfortunately only for a short period of time, because the holidays usually don’t last forever.

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Now with these tips, in particular with a good equipment and keeping your mind busy, you will make a big step towards transforming the nightmare of winter into a dream. Okay we should not exaggerate…luckily for us, summer is coming!


Some addresses for winter clothing :
– Sport Experts
– Simons
– Le Comptoir Emmaüs
– Armée du Salut

Some addresses for activities:
– Place d’Youville (skating)
– Plains of Abraham (skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing)
– Domaine de Maizerets (skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing)
– Le Relais (skiing)
– Mont Sainte-Anne (skiing)
– Mont-Tremblant (skiing)


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