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Winter In Toronto and What To Wear

Deepa Chaudhary

When one says Canada the first thing that comes to mind is cold. Canada is perceived by people to be a really cold country. Yes that’s mostly true but Canada is a very big country and not all of Canada gets severe winter. The cold varies depending upon where in Canada you are. The more north you go the colder it gets. Toronto is situated in southern Ontario, with the average winter temperature of -3C, with the lowest being -15 while in nearby Ottawa or Montreal it can go down to -40C and in Vancouver which is on the West side of Canada, the temperature never falls below zero, averaging around 4C.

We are onto our second winter in Toronto and so far its all been good, the cold has not been much of a bother, on the contrary we do like the change in season. The only complaint that I have of the winter is that it runs a bit too long, November to March and sometimes parts of April. Though the severe months of winter are from mid December to mid March, that’s when you need your Parkas and gloves. Other times you can do away with sweaters and puffer jackets. Also another great piece of advice we were given by locals was that if you spend even two weeks out of Toronto in a warmer place, you will feel the winter go by much faster.

This is precisely what we did this year, we were out for the month of December and returned back in January with fresh vibes and appreciation for the cold.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”

The first thing we did after moving to Toronto and before the start of winter was to invest in really good winter clothes so we could enjoy this new season that we had never experienced before.

It can get a bit mind boggling to decide on winter clothes with so many brands and types of winter jackets to choose from. Being true Californians we went and picked Patagonia jackets but soon realized that the jackets won’t keep us really warm when the temperature goes below zero. We were lucky to have a curated clothes store in our neighborhood where we got a quick crash course on winter wear and some really good winter parkas and accessories.

Me and my husband both went and picked up Nobis Parkas. They are really good, warm, lightweight and the best part is you can wear it on top of a t-shirt and step out into the freezing cold. If you have a good Parka, you don’t need to layer up at all. We are so grateful that we came across these amazing jackets, they have made our winter so worth it. We step out of our house multiple times a day, we do all our errands walking, barely use the car and have never complained of the cold. Another winter Parka that’s getting rave reviews is North Aware, a kickstarter funded project. A friend of ours has it and totally love the lightweight, warm and thoughtful design.

In addition to a good winter Jacket, you need boots that are insulated as well as waterproof. It’s important to pick a pair of boots that are waterproof as when the snow melts it gets slushy, with big puddles of water on the street ends. There are some really good Canadian shoe brands to choose from, Sorel, Kamik, Stonz. You also need good pair of mittens and a hat. A pro tip, instead of going for gloves pick up mittens as they keep hands much warmer.

We got our kids outfitted at MEC, we got them snowsuits, boots, mitts and hat. For kids good mittens that stay snug on the hand are very important since kids love to play in the snow and make snowballs. We realized this after buying couple of bad mittens on how important this part of winter accessory is for kids. Also lightweight winter boots makes a lot of difference specially as our kids aren’t used to wearing boots from birth. For the first winter I got my four year old BOGS boots, they are really good, easy to wear but were heavy and my son reluctantly wore them through the winter. This year I got him Stonz boots, a montreal based company that makes super light boots.

While shopping for winter gear we chose functionality, lightness, minimalism over heavy gears and layers and layers of clothes. The right gear makes you mobile and appreciate winter better. Managing and storing winter wear becomes easier otherwise it can gets overwhelming with so many pieces of winter clothes

I would budget around USD 1000-1200 for winter wear, it’s a one time investment that will serve you for years. Since kids outgrow their clothes quickly, it’s always better to buy a size up so it can last them at least two winters. You can budget around USD 250 for kids inclusive of boots, snowsuits, mitts, hat etc. MEC is the go to place for kids wear. There are also many second hand store with a good selection of winter wear for kids such as Bumbleberry Kids, Once Upon A Child. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who gave me a stroller sleeping bag and snow pants for my little one. And I have done the same with the clothes my kids have outgrown. It’s a common practice in Toronto for neighbors and friends to pass down kids clothes as winter wear can get expensive.

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We are not immigration lawyers or consultants. This website only documents our opinions and experiences. For all legal questions we would advice going to a real lawyer. We are not responsible for your actions and decisions. The MOV North community is also not to be considered legal advice. It is merely a community forum to share insights about moving to Canada.