Let’s start with this: Canada is a really, really big place. And while some parts of the country experience pretty mild winters, other places — like here in Quebec — are pretty much what you imagine: lots of snow, cold winds, and people doing what they can to stay warm (and to keep from slipping and sliding).

But it’s not just four months of misery. Lots of people from around the world head to Canada to enjoy winter sports and adventures. Personally, I LOVE winter, and so I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what life is like here from around mid-December through the end of March (and sometimes even into April!). In my view, here are the true story about winter in Quebec.

Advantages
1.      Hockey!

Canada has two national sports: lacrosse and, of course, HOCKEY! Really, over here it’s not just a sport – it’s a religion. Quebec (where we all live and work) used to have two teams: the Quebec Nordiques, and the Montreal Canadiens. But after the Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995, pretty much everyone became a Montreal Canadiens fan. Many people proudly wear a jersey or t-shirt displaying the name and number of their favorite player, and when the game is on people are either at home in front of the TV, or in a restaurant or bar in front of 10 TVs. We even play hockey here in the summer, too, but winter is the time of year when it really takes over. And if you’re not familiar with hockey, check out this video to see what some people can do simply with a puck and a stick.

2.      Lots of Skiing

Skiing is another sport that many people here enjoy during winter — both Alpine and Nordic. While alpine (or downhill) skiing involves speed and skill on the slopes, Nordic skiing (also called cross-country) is more about cardio and enjoying the forest landscape and spectacular views. Either type is a great way to appreciate nature and the outdoors.

3.      Getting Warm

It may seem a little strange, but one the best feelings in the world is to enter your home after a day in the cold, and get warm next to the fireplace, snuggle under a blanket, and maybe drink a cup of hot cocoa.

4.      Snow Days

As kids, we all loved vacation days — but the BEST days were “snow days.” These are days when there is so much snow that school is cancelled, and you spend the day playing hockey on the street, building snow forts, or just, well, not going to school! Here in Quebec, we usually have at least two snow days per winter. Ah, the good old days!

5.      Winter is Beautiful

When your car windshield (and sometimes your face, if you’re walking) is sprayed with a big pile of cold and wet “slush,” then winter isn’t attractive. In fact, it’s U.G.L.Y. But when you’re inside and staring out at a wonderland of snow and amazing skies, then winter can be truly stunning. Everywhere you look there’s a beautiful white blanket that feels magical.

Disadvantages
1.      Cold and Flu

Winter has another name: cold and flu season. That means tissue sales go up, and productivity goes down.

2.      Shoveling

Do you know one of the worst things about winter? Waking up late for work, and realizing that you need to shovel three feet of snow just to get out of your driveway. It may be good exercise, but trust me, shoveling can be a pain.

3.      Snowstorms

A moment ago, I mentioned how much fun it was when were kids, and snowstorms forced schools to close. But when you’re an adult, it’s not as much fun — because in most cases, you still need to get to work (even if you’re two hours late!). Plus, sometimes snow storms can be dangerous. Roads get slippery, vision is reduced, and lots of people forget how to drive.

4.      -35°C/-31°F
Even though I mentioned cold is nice, sometimes it's just too cold. -35°C/-31°F is simply deadly for your car's battery... and your will to go outside!
Winter is Worth It

There are some drawbacks to winter, and in particular, winter in Quebec. It can be wild and scary to people who are used to something different, but overall, I’d say that it’s definitely worth it. If you have the right attitude and are prepared, then winter can be a blast.