Wednesday 16 December 2015

A winter tale

Years ago I lived and worked in Edmonton, Alberta. As an aside there is sort of a rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton, or there used to be, it kind of fell by the wayside. They are the two major population centres in Alberta. Edmonton is the capital and basically has the government offices. Calgary is the more entrepreneurial of the two. In my experience Edmonton has a bureaucratic feel to it, Calgary seems to feel more freewheeling.

It was the middle of July and hot and not much was happening. I struck up a conversation with three people in their twenties who just moved to Edmonton from Singapore. They asked me how cold it gets in winter. I asked if they were used to using Celsius. They were, so I told them it can get to minus forty degrees Celsius in winter in Edmonton. I have been in colder weather, I do not miss it. Anyway, they did not believe me. I politely told them again that it can get that cold. So then they asked me what happened when it got that cold, they wanted to know if we shut down the city. I said no, we still go to work. This is Canada after all. Then they really did not believe me and they were convinced that I was lying to them.

At this point I asked if they had moved here and this was going to be their home year round. They told me it was. So I informed them that in six months they would find out for themselves. You really cannot explain things to someone who is totally unfamiliar with the concept. Try to explain to someone that snow has different characteristics. You can have a wet heavy snowfall. You can have one with big white fluffy flakes. It can squeak when you walk on it. Mention this to someone who has never experienced snow and it can sound like you are weaving a fairy tale.

Here in my part of Alberta winters are not all that bad. A chinook will frequently come through unwinding winter's presence. You can have a snowfall one week and no trace of winter the next week due to a chinook, and this is during the winter months. It can also play havoc with the temperatures. When I first moved here I thought I would never get acclimatized. 

Does it get that cold here? Yes it can and does. We Canadians do actually go to work in some absolutely brutal weather. We just do it without questioning it. Depending on where you live in Canada plugging in your vehicle is something we do. I usually never do it unless it drops to minus thirty degrees Celsius. I have had my vehicle parked at work where there were no outlets and started my vehicle during lunch and let it run to warm up and then shut it off so it would start when I left work. When I lived in the far northern part of British Columbia it was common to see mine workers not shut off vehicles and leave them running all night long.

I once lived in Chilliwack, British Columbia for a year. Winter was mainly rain. Lots of rain. Even in the summer. There is a joke that people in British Columbia do not tan, they rust. I once lived in Cassiar, British Columbia and every winter we would get about twenty feet of snow. As kids we had some great snow forts. Regardless, sometimes you cannot explain this stuff to someone, sometimes they have to experience it to get what you are talking about.

1 comment:

  1. That is bloody cold!! It's the same temp in Fahrenheit! (Just had to look that up). :o)