The 10 Coldest Places in Canada

It’s time to celebrate Canada’s love-hate relationship with winter! Beat the chill with these 10 cool facts about the Great White North.

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Canada's coldest places
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Chill Out in the Coldest Places in Canada

Canada spends a third of its year shivering under an extensive blanket of snow and ice. But do you know which city rules the cool, or who’s to blame for the New Year’s polar bear plunge phenomenon? And which surprising Canadian destination may require snow boots during the summer? Bundle up! This weather bulletin forecasts eye-opening winter trivia on the approach!

Check out the world’s best snowy destinations!

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Young girl making snow angel
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School’s Out in Val-d’Or, Quebec

Canadian kids who crave snow day-induced school closures might want to convince mom and dad to move to Val-d’Or, Québec. According to Environment Canada, the city famous for its gold, copper and zinc mines boasts more snow days—103.5—than any other Canadian metropolis. Val-d’Or is literally too cool for school.

Discover the Top 10 Attractions in Montreal and Quebec City.

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Swimming in freezing water
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Take the Plunge in Vancouver

Did you know that Vancouver may be responsible for the popular January 1st tradition of diving into freezing cold lakes? What’s believed to be Canada’s first “polar bear plunge” was orchestrated by Peter Pantages and the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club in 1920. Today, New Year’s resolutions and charity fundraisers are often cited as the reason for charging into the body-numbing tides of Vancouver’s English Bay. Since its birth over 90 years ago, Vancouver’s polar bear swim continues to set participation records each year, and has spawned copycat events across Canada and around the world.

Here are the 10 Must-See Sites in Vancouver and Victoria.

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Northern Lights in Yellowknife
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Yellowknife is the King of Cool

Congratulations, Yellowknife! You are at the top of the coldest places in Canada. With an average winter temperature of -28.9 Celsius, Environment Canada says that this city in the Northwest Territories is officially Canada’s nippiest. And if that temperature didn’t send a massive chill down your spine, here’s another frostbite-inducing fact: The city is also home to Canada’s most extreme wind chill reading of -63.99 Celsius. Desperate to warm up? Yellowknife shows its cozy side with its number one ranking for Canada’s sunniest summer.

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Winter in Calgary
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Summer Snow in Calgary

Summer in Calgary ushers in the annual Stampede, refreshing mountainside breezes and…flurries? Nestled close to the majestic Rocky Mountains, Calgary is famous for receiving occasional snowfall in July and August. According to the Weather Network, this western hub has recorded snowfall in every month on the calendar making it one destination where shivers and sunburn can go hand-in-hand.

Here are 40 great things to do in Calgary!

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Downtown Toronto in winter
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Call in the National Guard in Toronto

Remember in 1999 when Toronto’s former mayor Mel Lastman called in the Canadian army to deal with a massive snowfall that paralyzed the city? The rest of Canada chuckled under its frosty breath and for good reason. Historically, the Canadian city experiencing the most days trapped under a snowfall of 25 cm or more is Moncton, New Brunswick. The Maritime city’s winters have on average 2.13 days straight of unrelenting snow, and the army is never called to the rescue. As for Toronto, the Ontario city sits in an embarrassing 99th place out of the 100 snow-swept cities Environment Canada investigated!

These are Toronto’s biggest and most culturally significant attractions.

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Couple ice skating outdoors
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Cold Warning

Hurricanes, heat waves, floods and lighting strikes may seem more sinister, but excessively cold, unpredictable winter weather is responsible for over 100 deaths in Canada each year—a tally that is higher than the aforementioned weather foes combined. The government recommends that all Canadians take winter’s changeable moods seriously. Stay warm, plan ahead, drive, walk and shovel carefully. You don’t want to become a human icicle.

Here are 10 Stunning Photos That Remind Us How Beautiful Canada Really Is.

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Yukon winter landscape
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The Coldest Day Ever

Think the weather in your corner of Canada is glacial? While you moan about the cold, and how much you hate wearing parkas, boots and scarves, spare a warm thought for the citizens of Snag, situated within Canada’s most northern reaches of the Yukon. On Feb. 3, 1947, the tiny community was blasted with Canada’s coldest day ever recorded. A bone-shattering temperature of -62.8 Celsius settled in and lasted for several days. It feels silly to complain about weather here now, doesn’t it?

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Lakelse Lake
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Lost in the Snow in Lakelse Lake

It’s every snowman’s idea of heaven! On January 17, 1974, one community in Canada was hidden under the weight of the heaviest recorded snowfall. The lucky recipient? Lakelse Lake, British Columbia. Within a 24-hour period, 181 centimetres fell to the ground creating towering snow banks, dangerous driving conditions, and postcard worthy vistas. To date, no other snow event in Canada has matched this stunning display by Mother Nature.

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Ice Hotel in Quebec
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Chill Out Indoors

Famous around the world, Québec’s Hôtel de Glace is the only hotel in North America built entirely with snow and ice. Since 2001, the visually stunning and architecturally intriguing hotel just minutes outside Québec City has hosted thousands of visitors each winter. With 44 rooms and suites, a 400-person capacity ice bar, outdoor hot tubs and winter activities such as ice slides, skiing and skating on its doorstep, the Hôtel de Glace embraces winter with a warm enthusiasm unmatched anywhere else.

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Winter in Ottawa
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Ottawa’s Not That Cold!

Brrr! You may be surprised to learn that contrary to popular belief, Ottawa is not the world’s first, second or third coldest capital city on the planet. Canada’s political HQ is actually frozen in the middle of the world’s top 10 frostiest capitals alongside Helsinki, Moscow and the world’s chilliest capital, Mongolia’s UlaanBaatar.

Check out The 10 Best Ice Rinks Around the World.

Check out our countdown of Canada’s Coolest Winter Travel Destinations!

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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