Winter in Ottawa – on the Greenboro Trail

When we moved here to Ottawa, on December 15, 2011, the grass was still green, the temperature was well above freezing, and a soft rain was falling. That year we didn’t see snow until a few days before Christmas and the whole winter season was milder than usual.

The coldest day of the year was the day my sister from Bermuda came to visit. The temperature that day was -25C. It must have been a shock for her! I had to lend her my long “yard-duty” coat that I had used when I was a teacher.

Last year, it didn’t snow until a few days before Christmas but Winter bit us in the derriere in March and April when we had several snow storms and the temperatures were frigid! It was very difficult and perfect strangers were talking to each other about how horrible the winter had been.

Not as bad as 2008, which set a record for the most snow EVER in one year in Ottawa.

This year, it has hit us early, and hit us hard, and while it has put us in the festive spirit and we do admit that it is beautiful, I fear we are in for another record-breaking year.

Today, December 11, 2013, it is -8C (17F). But when you factor in the wind speed, it feels like -16C (3F). Tonight it is going down to -19C (-2F) but the wind chill factor (which is a Canadian invention guaranteed to make us feel terrible (we are so cold) and wonderful (we are so tough) at the same time) will make it feel like -25C (-13F).

We went Christmas shopping today but were mostly inside so this afternoon we went for a walk on the Greenboro Trail. We took a few photos to prove how hardy we are.

And I admit – it was beautiful.

What do you think of my new WARM winter jacket?

What do you think of my new WARM winter jacket?

At 3 p.m. it was getting quite dark.

At 3 p.m. it was getting quite dark.

Two of my grandchildren built their first snowman of the season.

Two of my grandchildren built their first snowman of the season.

Over a week until the winter solstice and the sun is setting at 4:19.

Over a week until the winter solstice and the sun is setting at 4:19.

I fully expect my Bermuda sister to comment on this post telling us how “cold” it is there, but do not believe her. We have had this discussion before and I know winter in Ottawa blows her puny Bermuda winter right out of the water!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!  Stay warm.


Winter Wonderland

My sister has written a rebuttal to my rant post about her winter complaints.

This is a re-butt-al to end all this nonsense! 


  • Subtropical
  • When it gets cold you don a light cardigan. 
  • When it is windy, you turn up the collar of your beach cover-up.  
  • When it gets damp, you shut the windows.
  • Near North Carolina


  • Subarctic
  • When it gets cold, you don long underwear, insulated socks, two pairs of pants, a long undershirt, a long-sleeved turtle neck, a sweater, boots, ski pants, hooded jacket, scarf, ear muffs, stocking cap, gloves, mitts, and depending on the day, possibly goggles and cramp-ons*.
  • When it gets windy, you tie a rope to the heaviest  object in the house and then around your waist before venturing outside, lest you get blown into the next city.
  • When it gets damp…well…this could be either SNOW or SLEET.  For snow, you shovel it.  You have never shovelled anything like Canadian snow.  Then there are the wind-rows. This is the combination snow/ice that is left in your driveway after the plow has gone by.  It is impossible to shovel because it is the hardest substance known to humans.  You need to buy dynamite to shift it!  If it is sleet, you have to crawl to the garage, pry the door open hoping it is not frozen solid.  You get a bag of salt and throw the whole thing all over the driveway in hopes that enough of the frozen precipitation will melt that you will be able to get up off your knees to go to the store to buy more salt.
  • Near Greenland and Alaska.

* Cramp-ons – these are metal spikes much like those worn by the more vicious skin-heads, but these are attached to strips of rubber and affixed to the bottom of your winter boots.  Many people swear by them and state that they can walk without fear on slippery surfaces.  I am pretty sure that I have heard store owners swear by them as well, when a bunch of senior citizens wearing cramp-ons come clanking and clanging through their establishment, gouging the floors with those steel spikes!

So, dear, aka Helen of Bermuda, why don’t you just give up and admit defeat.  I’ve got you beat, mittens down!

Mad at my Sister

I have three sisters, and I love them dearly.  BUT I am quite upset with one of them.  She is normally a very nice, kind, generous, lovely person, but every once in a while she lets loose a vicious mean streak and that’s what she did today!

My sister, (I’ll call her Helen, because that’s her name) lives in Bermuda.  This is not normally a problem!  I love visiting her there and have done so many times.  Do you know what it is like to visit a warm, sunny country in the middle of a typical Canadian winter?  It makes you want to weep! 

Every time I leave that country, I stand at the top of that little ladder they provide for you to get on the plane, and I close my eyes and try to memorize the heat!!!  It is very difficult to do but I manage it for the two-hour journey back to Canada.  It’s fine in the airport but as soon as I step outside, the blast of snow, wind and c-o-l-d knocks the memory right out of me.  I can’t even remember my name let alone the heat.

I know I am digressing but I have to set the stage so you can properly understand the perfidy she unloosed this morning.  It is rare that one has to endure such things but she showed a treacherous nature that shook me to the depths of my being.

It happened on Facebook!!!  Yes, in a public forum.  She … oh I can hardly say it …  she said, “Brrr.  It is really cold here!”  Cold!  And she was born and brought up in Nova Scotia, the snow capital of the world where the day after a winter storm you can step right out of your second floor window to wend your way to school!

I noticed that she got comments from as far apart as Vancouver and Cape Breton.  Her commenters were polite.  They were nice.  They were understanding when she said, in that little girl voice of hers, (well, I couldn’t hear her of course, but I know that voice), “You have to understand it is 57 º here but it’s damp”!!!


In basically all of Canada, it is -236 degrees and don’t even ask what the wind-chill is!  The meteorologists at Environment Canada were going to tell us but their lawyer advised them not to because of the very real possibility of multiple cardiac arrests across the nation. 

Seriously, what do you think of a sister who would complain, (yes, complain, Helen) about the cold, when her older sister is on her knees praying for spring to come?

My sister and fellow blogger (Yes, you, will no doubt try to stir up your sympathies, but I know you’re on my side in this.  Aren’t you???

10 Things I Love About Canada

I have lived in Canada for all of my life except for two years in Zambia as a newlywed and two years in the Chicago area in my mid forties.  People who criticize their country are all around us but I think it is time for a little praise.

  1. Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia is my home and will always be in my heart.  Life is slower there and people take time to get to know you.  There is nowhere in Nova Scotia that is more than 50 miles from the ocean.  This is where I swam when I was a child.  Not very busy, is it? 
    Grandpa”s Beach near Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
  2. Quebec.  I love that we have a province where French is the main language.  My Dad was French Canadian but he never taught us to speak French.  All four of our daughters speak French and are very much at home in Quebec.  Our grandchildren are learning it as well and seem very comfortable giving a presentation in French at school.
  3. My daughter Carla took this photo last spring while walking in the Bois Franc in Montreal.

     3.  Manitoba.  We lived in Winnipeg for six years and we loved our time there.  It is “big sky country” and is so beautiful.  There are a lot of wheat farms in Manitoba and it is a treat to see huge fields of it waving in the wind.  We discovered one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Winnipeg while we lived  there and we visited often.  Now my nephew and his family live in Manitoba.  This photo came from him.

    Grand Beach, Lake Winnipeg. Around 10:30 p.m.

  4.  Alberta.  I met my husband in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta.  Many of his brothers and sisters still live in the province.  There are flat, fertile farms and high, majestic mountains. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful and the two national parks, Jasper and Banff are known around the world for the wildlife and the scenery.
  5. British Columbia.  Vancouver held the recent Winter Olympics and is an amazing city with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.  It also has my grandson, Emil, who lives on Burnaby Mountain.  I have three brothers and a sister who live in BC.  as well. Vancouver Island is full of natural beauty, lakes, mountains, and wildlife.  Watch for bears!
  6. The North.  My hubby is from the Northwest Territories, which lies north of  the 60th parallel.  When I first visited there, it was -50F and the sun rose around 10:00 a.m. and set around 2:30 p.m.  In the summer it is the opposite.  It never really gets dark at all for a few weeks. The Wood Buffalo Park is there and I even saw a couple of those huge animals when I was visiting there. 

    Spectacular scenery in the Northwest Territories. Courtesy our niece, Sue.


  7.  I love our health care system.  My grandson, who is hearing impaired, has had eight surgeries.  His family had to pay nothing for any of them.  He has two cochlear implants.  Each surgery costs between $45,000 and $125,000.  Cost to the family – zero!  There are sometimes waiting periods but it is really nothing.  My friend’s husband recently had a heart attack.  Within hours he had an MRI,Cat Scan, Echo Cardiogram and any test he needed.  Cost to the family – nothing.  The peace of mind it brings is priceless.
  8. I love our winter sports and activities (and the summer ones as well).  There is nowhere that is far from the countryside and all towns have a hockey or ice skating rink.  There is skiing, downhill and cross-country.  Skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

    My granddaughter, Brynn, skiing last winter, in Ottawa.

  9. Ontario.  Niagara Falls.  Canada’s Wonderland.  Ontario Place.  Rideau Canal.  Algonquin Park.  Sandbanks.  Houses of Parliament.  Queen’s Park.  The Blue Jays.  The Senators.  The Maple Leafs.  The Tiger Cats.  The Argonauts.  Lake Ontario.  Lake Huron.  Lake Superior.  Lake of the Woods.  I could go on and on.
  10. We are a country that is welcoming and supportive of people in need.  Refugees have always been able to find a home here.  We are quick to offer assistance to the victims of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, and other natural and man-made disasters.  We are tolerant and allow others to be themselves and teach our children acceptance. 

Canada is a great place to live.  I am sure those of my readers who live in other countries could write about their particular homeland.  I’d like to hear from you about what you love about your country.  Maybe I’ll visit your part of the world one day.