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How To Survive A Winnipeg Winter

By Jade Johnston

Warning : The following post contains references to bone chilling cold!

Why go skiing or head south to a sunny beach when you can spend the winter in Winnipeg?

Those of you who know where Winnipeg is are probably saying “WWHHhhaaaaaa?!?” right now. And some of you may even point out that I have spent the last two Winnipeg winters in the Southern hemisphere (i.e. not winter), but let’s just pretend, for the sake of this post, that you don’t know that.

A Winnipeg Winter

Winnipeg. Windy-peg. Winter-peg. The capital of Manitoba, and one of the coldest cities on earth. A city where the inhabitants brag to their more southern friends about their incredible winter survival skills – while in the comfort of their heated houses of course. Winnipeg. Where -40 Celsius is the norm. Winnipeg – my home town.

You know you are in Winnipeg in the winter when…..

  • You walk outside and the coldness of the air knocks the breath out of you
  • Your eyes water from the cold, and then freeze together a little bit in the corners
  • You find long johns sexy
  • Your car has a remote control
  • You need to plug your car into an electrical outlet so that it will start the next day
  • You know just how annoying it is to have a “snot-cicle” form on the end of your nose
Plug your car in, or it won’t start in the morning! CC – Let Ideas Compete


How To Survive A Winnipeg Winter


  • Layers, Layers, and more layers! This is crucial. Even my hipster friends wear long johns underneath their skinny jeans. I usually chose to wear thick woollen tights under my clothes, which really helps. You may always order them online at Layers on top are also really helpful. Electricity and heating in Winnipeg is cheaper than in many other parts of the world, and believe me, we keep our houses warm.
  • Good footwear. Your fingers and toes are the first to freeze in a Winnipeg winter, but unlike your fingers, you can’t blow on your toes to warm them up while you wait for the bus. Good shoes are so important in this type of climate. Remember, snow is WATER, so you will want to make sure your shoes are waterproof! Also make sure they are well insulated, and wear a good pair of socks that wick the moisture away from your feet as well. When I am in Winnipeg, I like to wear Mukluk boots which on top of being extremely warm and comfortable, are also just mega awesome.
  • Hats and toques are cool, and a great fashion statement. Just like fingers and toes, ears are also quick to freeze. Believe me, there is nothing more painful than the dull ache of your ears “defrosting” when you come inside from the cold Winnipeg winter. Your head is also one of your major sources of heat loss from your body – and heat loss is not something you want to happen in a Winnipeg winter! Make sure you wear a hat! And if you want to blend in, make sure to refer to your hat as a “toque”.
Long underwear and a toque – There is nothing sexier – CC lintmachine
  • Take the sky walk or tunnels when you are downtown. A good majority of downtown Winnipeg is connected either by underground, or above ground heated walkways. This is a great way to get around the inner city during extreme weather. You can go from the Hudson Bay Company, through to Portage Place mall, across to the MTS centre and the City Place mall, then over to the Millennium library, and finally down to the intersections of Portage and Main st. If you are not familiar with Winnipeg, you wont know just how far you can get with these walkways, so just take my word for it.
  • Warm up with a Tim Hortons! This wouldn’t be a Canadian themed post without a mention of Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is the consumer embodiment of all things stereotypically Canadian. It’s a cheap coffee and donut stop (often open 24 hours), where you can fill up on a coffee and toasted bagel for under $5. So, a hockey player, a lumberjack, and an RCMP officer walk into a Tim Hortons….. Wait, that’s not the start of a joke – That could totally happen.

So tell me? What are your winter survival strategies?


43 thoughts on “How To Survive A Winnipeg Winter

  1. Love the post. A lot of the points you made can be applied to Edmonton in the winter (where I’m from), although I’ve heard Winnipeg is much colder. I don’t know if I want to visit Winnipeg in the winter to find out if that’s true or not. A visit in the summer is a different story, a much warmer story.


    1. Winnipeg in the summer is awesome awesome awesome! Although I am planning a post on things to do in Winnipeg in the winter, so maybe that might give you some inspiration πŸ˜›


  2. We’re enjoying a very mild Winnipeg winter this year (it was only -5 degree C today!), but here are a couple other interesting Winter tips:

    1) Embrace it! At some point or another, you are going to have to go outside. Think of it as a challenge. It’s crazy cold outside, and at -40 degrees C (what the temperature was here last week) you turn simply going to the store for gorceries into an endurance test.

    2) REMOVABLE layers are key: It’s freaking cold outside, but you’re going to melt as soon as you arrive at your destination. Make sure you can lose your layer quickly.

    3) Stay active: Of course you’re going to be cold if you’re standing at a bus stop, but if you keep moving, or even start dancing around like an idolt, you’ll stay a lot warmer.

    4) Enjoy hiberation: If you really can’t handle being in the cold, stay inside and have fun! Getting together with friends and having a couple of beers is a great way to get through winter. Snuggling with your hunny is another great way to stay warm πŸ™‚

    And just remember, spring’s only a couple of months away!


    1. LOVE IT! I have to admit – I usually use survival tactic #4! Although when I do NEED to go outside, dance moves at the bus stop always help with keeping my feet from freezing off!


  3. Wow – look at all that snow!!! John and I are currently looking at some seriously cold destinations for our next move and I have to say I’m not sure how we’re going to cope with the winters…


  4. My Winter survival strategy is rather like that of a swallow. Head somewhere warmer for winter! Although I have just had two winters within six months… I’ve managed to avoid the really cold ones like this!


    1. We have skating on the river in the winter, but I have never gotten out to do it. I just dont want to invest in buying skates – although I am sure you can probably rent them somewhere


  5. I’ve never been anywhere remotely this cold before. I grew up in OR and we got snow every winter, but it wasn’t much and it was easy to stay inside. Then I moved to CA, and now I’m chasing summer as we travel! I don’t know if I could handle such bone-chilling cold, but the idea of Winnipeg’s underground tunnels and skywalks is fabulous! I’d go there just to experience that. πŸ˜›


    1. It’s nice to have snow for a few days, but it gets old fast! Winnipeg might be a nice place to stop for a few days so that you can say you have “done it”! Lol! But living there is a whole new story!


  6. I don’t think my thin Miami blood would survive in that cold! LOL I went to upstate NY once in November and thought I was going to freeze to death. Maybe one day I will gather the courage to visit CA in the winter!


  7. I definitely don’t miss winters in Canada, but I would add, do something fun outside. Build a snowman, or an igloo, go sledding, snowshoeing, something fun that makes winter more bearable.


  8. What? One can survive a winter in Winnipeg? And what do you mean that long john’s aren’t sexy? πŸ˜€

    Cute post! Love seeing Canadian travel blogging love. ❀


    1. haha! Well apparently the winter in Canada this year is very mild! I wonder why I always end up going home for the coldest ones? Bad luck I guess! You’ll get used to long underwear…. it is an acquired taste…. but soon you will love it! lol


  9. I LOLd at the sexy longjohns! I’m currently in the midst of -22C weather in Vilnius (thanks, freak Arctic winds that decided to blow down during my European trip!) but -40C dear lord.

    Guys can probably add to this in a rather disgusting way…feeling your nose hairs freeze inside your nostrils. It feels like you have a constant bogey there. BLEARGH.


    1. haha well once you get below -20 or -30 it all feels the same really! Luckily, in Winnipeg it is a dry cold, so it is easier to protect yourself with layers. Vilnius is an amazing place! When I was there in 2008 in March we had a freak spring snow storm as well! Maybe its such something about Lithuania!


      1. haha I like that even though it has been proved that it was not the cold that made them defective, Winnipegers are still stubbornly holding on to the idea anyway. I think we just like the thought that we can survive in such an extreme climate when other things can’t, such as the metres πŸ˜›


  10. Whoa! Winnipeg winter is extremely freezing in cold. I wonder if I will survive there. It’s very challenging.


  11. Thanks for the tips. Being from the American Deep South, we have never known the temperatures you speak of. It got down to 9 F, and the schools closed because the kids didn’t have warm enough jackets to wait outside for the bus. We’re hoping to go to Manitoba in November- I’m pretty sure we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into πŸ™‚


    1. Manitoba in November can be intense, but it’s not tooo bad. Are you going to Churchill? Winnipeg is OK… but it’s not really a tourist destination πŸ˜›


  12. Great article! Very helpful! I’m moving to Winnipeg next month and was wondering if you had any advice for my first real winter experience? Do we need the $300 boots? Parkas? We don’t know anyone, either. What do you suggest we do for hobbies? (I can’t skate, but I’m willing to Learn!)



    1. Haha welcome to Winnipeg! You dont need expensive boots unless you plan to spend a lot of time outside. I bought fur lined mukluks (Hudson Bay) and they were fantastic (and stylish). I found that wool coats work just fine and make sure you have a scarf and something to cover your ears. Hats ruin my hair so I got ear muffs instead. As for hobbies…. inside hobbies? LOL You can skate on the river if you want but I have never done it. But then again, my main hobby during the winter is eating at restaurants. πŸ™‚


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