Winter, winter.

One week today, I will be stepping off a plane into the chilly temperatures of Iqaluit, Nunavut.  While I generally try to avoid making conversation about the weather- let’s be honest, I have a lot to say, and the weather is pretty self-evident- I have been a little bit more weather-oriented since deciding to move to Iqaluit for the next eight months.

Since I have known I’m headed to the real North for some time now, I’ve stubbornly refused to wear my winter jacket as much as possible, opting instead for my very Vancouver-ite jacket…although its long, it is definitely meant for late spring and early fall, not November and December. Luckily for my under-dressed self (and sadly for the part of me that embraces winter), we had very, very little snowfall and with the exception of a few exceptionally cold days, southwestern Ontario remained fairly manageable weatherwise.

My Nana has been faithfully tracking the temperatures of major Canadian cities for me, as reported in the Globe and Mail. She enthusiastically notes days when Iqaluit’s temperatures are on par with those in Edmonton; I am secretly hoping for many days like this compared to the bitter cold that Iqaluit can boast. However, in preparation for the cold (whether as cold or colder than Edmonton) I’ve spent a far bit of time (and money) at St. Catharines’ very lovely outdoor store, Outdoors Oriented, where I’ve been outfitted in head to toe (well, almost) protection from winter weather including extra-insulated socks, wind pants, lots of long underwear pants and shirts, a neck warmer and hardcore mittens that are even warmer than the mittens I previously owned which I thought at the time were the warmest things possible. Boots and a warm-enough-for-real-winter jacket are still to come (perhaps I’ve been procrastinating, but there are a lot of available options, and some things just can’t be rushed).

I spent four days at my family’s cottage in Burk’s Falls where the temperature was in the -10 to -15 range, and spent at least a few hours each day outside from shoveling to moving furniture (we are in the midst of a reno) and skating on the frozen lake. I considered it a test of my newly purchased winter gear. Happily, it all passed the test- I was warm even when I wasn’t doing heavy lifting.

Christmas presents from nearly everyone in my life were cold-weather themed: I am now the proud owner of two new pairs of mittens (one made in Tibet), high-performance microfiber long underwear, five differently-scented hand salves (in a set, each of which has a different scent to complement my precise emotions at the time), blistex and the complete classic tin quartet of Burt’s Bees lip, hand, cuticle conditioner and ointment, and three pairs of hand-embroidered warmest socks ever.

Canada Goose jacket, far right

Canada Goose jacket, far right

Montreal was where I celebrated the new year, accompanied by new friends and dear friends, one of whom proudly modelled his Canada Goose jacket, “rooted in remote northern communities” and intended for “extreme cold weather”. Rather than this jacket which most agree is the best for Iqaluit, I opted for a North Face option which was less expensive, almost as stylish, and still down-filled– a decision primarily driven by the fact that women’s medium Canada Goose jackets are as difficult to find as a needle in a haystack due to their popularity on university campuses in southwestern Ontario and “the streets of New York City, Stockholm, Milan, Toronto and Tokyo”. I am counting on my new long underwear collection and wind pants to compensate. While he enjoyed the cocoon of down-filled Canada Goose, I (stubbornly) wore my wool pea coat and Tibetan-made mittens. I was only slightly chilly (particularly on the way to our New Years event in pantyhose) but firmly believe it was the result of leaving my scarf at home rather than any weakness of my coat choice given the actual temperatures. Lesson learned: my neck warmer and/or a scarf is now an essential piece of my wardrobe.

I may have made some grow weary of ‘Iqaluit’ as every complaint about the temperature was met by my insistence that nowhere could possibly be as cold as Iqaluit. Time will tell, and I will be sure to keep you posted. However, I highly suggest saving your complaints about the cold for a more sympathetic ear. Unless of course you happen to be in Edmonton on one of the days its temperatures are comparable to Iqaluit.

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3 thoughts on “Winter, winter.

  1. sarah, you are such a good writer!! i am really enjoying reading your posts, and you haven’t even left yet. Can’t wait to read what happens when you get up there.

  2. Actually most days (until the last few) the temp in Iqaluit hass been substantially warmer than Edmonton! Pleased you mentioned “my Nana”….

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