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Stay warm: Winter in Canada

By: Dumebi Osadebe
August 08, 2023

Stay warm: Winter in Canada is a part of the International Student Guide —  a resource carefully curated by current international students to equip new international students with the essential knowledge and insights you need to thrive in Toronto. View the full list of articles on the International Student Guide web page. 

A street in Toronto in the winter, covered in snow.

Canadian winters are not for the weak! Winters in Toronto last approximately 5-6 months (Usually from November to April). The not-so-friendly weather conditions include temperatures ranging from -20 to 3 degrees Celcius!  

Your winter days may be ruled by cold weather, but there's no need to worry. Winter can also be beautiful, and your days may be warmer or colder depending on the month and wind chill.

 Wind Chill: Get used to this term because it'll save you lots of time while getting dressed! Wind chill refers to the actual temperatures outside based on air temperature and wind speed. 

Here are some tips from international TMU students who were also nervous about the Canadian winter, and are now living through it like it’s a winter wonderland. 

Essentials and nice to haves

International Student Ambassadors
Winter in Toronto
Here's what you definitely need to make sure is in your wardrobe as you prepare for winter: 
  • Waterproof or water-resistant winter jackets: Preferably a down-filled jacket with a hood
  • Waterproof winter boots: Bonus if they have fuzzy lining inside! 
  • Thick winter socks: It's essential to keep your feet dry while walking in the snow
  • Thick sweaters: Make sure you have a warm sweater you can wear under your coat, especially on days where you're expected to be outside for a longer period of time 
  • Winter gloves: Look for waterproof or lined gloves 
  • Hats or Earmuffs: Also called a Toque, your ears will thank you! 
  • Scarves: We recommend you have one scarf for layering, plus they can pull your winter outfit together 

Here's what you don’t necessarily need but will help you stay extra warm and protected: 

  • Thermal wear: We highly recommend you have at least two thermal tops and two bottoms! 
  • Lip balm: Protect your lips and keep a lip balm on you at all times  
  • Thermal flask: Something to hold your hot coffee or tea on your way to class
  • Portable heater: You might need one in your room for those extra cold days! 

Looking for a place to shop essentials and nice-to-haves? The Eaton Centre is a shopping mall located just 5-7 minutes away from campus on foot and is where you'll definitely be able to shop for all your winter essentials!

More winter tips from international students

  1. If you're caught in a snow storm, try to find shelter on campus or nearby buildings until it clears or is mor manageable. 
  2. Where possible, take the subway to get around as they are usually not impacted by weather conditions brought on by winter and can help you stay dry.
  3. Rest assured, snow is usually cleared out from roads and you will not need to walk in it all the time, but watch out for slush–partially melted snow that forms puddles and is unpleasant to step into and slippery. 
  4. Watch out for black ice when walking, especially where you may see a thin glaze of ice on the sidewalk. Walk slowly and don't rush! 
  5. Budget some money for winter essentials, between $400-$700 CAD. 
  6. Don't be afraid to visit thrift stores for essential winter finds, usually at great quality! 
Nicholas Lum

With these tips we hope you have what you need to live out your winter wonderland fantasy in Toronto! 

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