From the moment I found out I would be spending a year in Montreal, the horror stories about the crippling Canadian winters began. “Minus 30 degree temperatures every day” they said. “You won’t be able to go outdoors for months” they said. “You’ll need to spend $1000 on a Canada goose jacket and winter boots” they said. I expected and mentally prepared for the worst but soon came to realise that this worry was unnecessary. I mean, Montreal’s snow and regular sunshine versus Manchester’s grey and rainy Winters… I think I know which one I’d rather.
I am a walking example of how the myth about needing to blow your life savings on winter clothing is, well, a myth. All this dramatic talk about the winter ahead of us led to me budgeting a hefty $600 for my winter clothes. However, I thought I’d try my luck at a local thrift store. What a great idea that turned out to be. Super warm duck down parka – $25. A pair of Timberlands winter boots – $15. My total for winter clothes shopping came to $40, a whole $560 less than I had budgeted. These have kept me perfectly warm and dry all winter whilst freeing up a whole load of money to spend on more interesting things, like travelling. McGill also run a free coat giveaway at the start of winter where you can find something suitable if you’re lucky, although make sure to get there early or you’ll end up with something like mine and my friends matching old lady jackets (see below). So yeah, make sure to check out the thrift stores and the coat giveaway (if you’re at McGill) before throwing your money away on a Canada Goose jacket.
Another myth to ignore is that it will be unbearably cold all winter, too cold to even spend time outdoors. We are Brits after all, it’s not like we’re used to tropical temperatures. As my dearest Mother says, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. This has proven true so as long as you have sufficient warm clothing, you will be fine! This year, Montreal had its’ coldest New Year on record yet we were still out and about every day and coped fine.
Most importantly, a Canadian winter provides opportunities that we don’t get back home so make the most of it! Buy yourself a cheap pair of ice skates (again, from a thrift store), rent ski gear for the season and get yourself down to the local lakes to skate or hit up one of the many ski slopes nearby. For my birthday, we went to a forest a few hours outside of Montreal that has 12km of routes to skate through, it was so beautiful and such a great Canadian experience.