By: Madi Wong
As long and dreary as winter can be, Canada is a diverse country where Canadians can engage in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities to make the most out of the season.
There are many holidays being celebrated at this time of the year, as well as a flurry of seasonal traditions and activities.
“We are a multicultural country. Some people like Christmas, some do not celebrate and some have other holidays. But it is a beautiful country and we have multiculturalism everywhere,” said Jim Ghimery, a commercial real-estate worker in Toronto.
Ghimery said that no matter what people decide to do in the winter that they should “enjoy it and live in the moment.”
He described how he and his family make the most out of the season. “We go out to Blue Mountain and spend a week there. It’s a family tradition. There’s snowboarding and skiing, a lot of shopping places and [it's] somewhere where you can enjoy a nice glass of apple cider,” he said.
In addition to Blue Mountain Resort, located in Collingwood, Ont., some well-known ski destinations in Canada include Whistler Blackcomb in Vancouver, and Mont Tremblant Ski Resort in Que. They are immensely popular among Canadians and travellers from outside of Canada.
With the weather cooling down and the arrival of December, skating rinks around Toronto have opened up. The most recent are Nathan Phillips Square and the Harbourfront Centre, which are two of the many skating rinks in Toronto that are known to be family friendly and a huge attraction for Toronto citizens.
Tyrese Gregg, a community leadership worker, favours skating and comes from a family of self-taught skaters. He started skating at the age of 12 and said that since then, it has become a family tradition.
“Skating is a big Canadian thing. Like if you’re Canadian, you skate. There’s a lot of friendship and family-like feeling to being around an ice rink,” he said.
There are also a variety of other sports that Canadians participate in during this time of the year, especially while in the spirit of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games. For beginners who are eager to learn, or those have been playing a certain winter sport their entire life, there are great opportunities available across Canada.
Christine Smith is a member of a curling club located in Stayner, Ont. She says that not only is curling fun but it is an inexpensive sport for people of all ages.
“Curling often offers programs for new people that are coming in. So, [for example] you can pay for a 10-week trial program instead of joining for the year, which might get someone’s interest,” Smith explained.
Smith also raved about her wish to try dog-sled racing.
“I like the outdoors, and Canadian-type activities. It’s something I haven’t done yet in my life and is definitely on my bucket list,” she said.
There are also dozens of winter and holiday markets across Canada such as the Vancouver Christmas Market and Toronto Christmas Market. Here, visitors can shop, enjoy authentic food from different vendors, view galleries and take pictures in the sparkling displays.
Raphaela Mandel, a Torchia Communications representative, shared the enjoyable aspects behind the Toronto Christmas Market, as well as the takeaways that the market hopes visitors will have.
“Every individual has a unique experience at the Toronto Christmas Market; they experience the Market differently depending [on] who they are with, what they are interested in, and what speaks to them emotionally,” Mandel said.
“Our hope is that everyone will rediscover the magic and romance of Christmas, and feel about the holidays the way they once did as a child.”
There are also ways to enjoy the winter indoors, whether it be engaging in an interesting read, doing an at-home workout or even baking some treats with company.
Victoria Salituro doesn't like winter. However, the second-year RTA student at Ryerson University said there are some activities of the season that just make her smile, having a snowball fight.
“It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed. It’s super fun and by running around you’re keeping warm. The best part is when you come back inside, you can warm yourself up by the fire, make hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies, which makes me really happy,” she said.
There are endless ways to make the most out of a Canadian winter, especially as we approach the end of 2017 and become closer to the beginning of 2018. Like Ghimery said, Canada has so much to offer and there are so many things that we can enjoy, despite the cold. From skiing at Blue Mountain to cutting a figure eight on the rink to sipping cocoa while watching Elf for the fifteenth time... Canadians can find plenty of ways to embrace the cold.
Whether someone has lived in Canada their whole life or for a short amount of time, there seems to be a positive perception of the atmosphere of the country.
David Sheehan, a veterinarian, who just moved to Toronto in September from Ireland, is ecstatic to be living here. “I have heard nothing but good things about Toronto, and it’s been pretty good here so far,” Sheehan said.
Coming from Ireland, he does have one thing in particular he can’t wait for, “I’m so excited for snow,” he said, “There’s not much snow in Ireland. If anything, it’s really little, just a powder.”
Like Sheehan, Vishal Kuman has just arrived in Toronto as an international college student from India. Kuman is a first-year hospitality and tourism student at Humber College.
Kuman shared his passion for playing cricket. “It is a marvellous game and I enjoy playing it in the winter. When I was in India, there was a region to play, so when I saw that people play it here in Canada, I felt good and energetic,” he said.
Along with Canada’s newest citizens, there are many visitors from around the world who travel here, whether it be for sightseeing or to experience what a Canadian winter is like.
Robin Bennison and Charlotte Woodcock are an engaged couple from England. They talked about what they’ve observed from their time in Canada, as well as their winter traditions in the U.K.
“I’m from quite a big family. We usually make an effort to get together. We’re quite fond of the winter time and we always watch a Christmas move on Christmas eve,” Woodcock explained.
Bennison and Woodcock have already visited the Toronto Christmas Market and Nathan Phillips Square while on their vacation.
Bennison described how Canada is a very vibrant and diverse city. In addition, he has noticed how “the holiday times in the UK are more driven by shopping, like ‘You must get this for all of your family members,’ whereas in Canada it is much more about a happy celebration and spirit.”
Being the multicultural and vibrant country that Canada is, there is so much to explore, celebrate and engage ourselves in during winter and ultimately, year-round.