How to dress for a Montreal winter 1

A warm day in Montreal.
My blogger friend Jools Stone, author of Trains on the Brain, has just won a trip to Montreal for his online 45 Things to do in Montreal before you're dead He lives in Edinburgh and has never even been here. Seems like a good time to give him some advice about dressing for a Canadian winter. He's coming in February.

Some things Canadians will say to you in winter....

Where is your winter coat? You may think you are wearing your winter coat but actually if you are British, you are not because it isn't full length or properly insulated. You will give the Canadians a good laugh though.

You're wearing jeans? Are you crazy? I had no idea about this but jeans are actually hopeless when it gets really cold (I'm talking below -20C) They become like little fridges on your legs and make you colder. You think you look cool. Canadians think you look like a tourist.

Ahh look they've got lace-up boots. (said in pitying voice) What's wrong with lace-up boots? Er having to take them on and off again ten times a day. You will realise why the people with slip-on boots are smiling. They even have slip-ons that look like lace-ups here. How sophisticated is that?

Gloves are useless.  Another piece of physics I learnt here in Montreal. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Prepare to look six-years-old again. Mittens keep your fingers together to share their warmth. Gloves cruelly separate those little puppies and make you flipping freezing. We once had to nip into Westmount library during a winter walk because I thought my hands had died. You don't have to have the piece of wool threaded through your coat anymore though, like your mum used to do.

Layering, layering, layering: Put all thoughts of reindeer jumpers away. Too hot. You are never going to be the right temperature again. You will be too hot in the house as you get dressed for the cold, you will be a good temperature for five minutes as you walk to the Metro, then you will need to strip down to your underwear because it is boiling in there anyway, even without the Canadian-strength winter coat. Same in shops and restaurants. Layering is the best advice Montrealers will give you.

Have the contents of your nose frozen yet? I thought I was doing pretty well roughing it in Montreal winters until I overheard the locals talking about the insides of their noses freezing and describing the weird sensation. I was really peeved that I had not experienced this but last winter I became a Montrealer. My snot froze.

Englishwoman attempts snowshoeing
You don't actually think it's that simple do you? For more rules about dressing in a Canadian winter go here Part two.

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  1. Talk about selling the place to me Anne. :-) So what's the smart alt to jeans then? Will cords pass muster? Oh well I've got a few months of climate training ahead of me yet I spose.

  2. You're going to love it! Let's ignore the record low in February of -33C and be positive. Sharpen your skates and borrow some snowshoes - it's the best place to be in winter. Then there are all those coffee shops and bars to warm up in......

  3. I guess it depends on where you visit in Canada cause here in my part of BC it doesn't get down to -20C and we can wear jeans and lace up boots. My snot has never frozen but I do agree that mittens are way warmer than gloves. We get lots of wonderful snow but not that extreme cold. So come on over to Beautiful British Columbia if you want to experience snow without freezing to death!

  4. Sounds fun in BC but I like a challenge and the near-death experience walking to the shops adds a certain excitement. Have a good winter.

  5. Hi, I recently start to follow your blog. I'm a Montrealer living in Denmark and really appreciate your blog about this beautiful city. I get quite nostalgic reading it especially this post. I'll be visiting family in February and I wonder if I actually can take it.


  6. Dear Poem, of course you can. It's in your blood. They just said the F word on the weather forecast. Yes, they are forecasting flurries in the Laurentians. It's coming already! What's Denmark like in winter?

  7. Denmark is somewhat like Vancouver in winter-not a lot of snow and they get -5 to -10 degrees. But apparently this winter will be very cold so I'll see what mother nature has in store for us.

  8. Ive just stumbled across your blog & Im glad I did. I wrote a similar post to this one a little while back as Im on Aussie living in Canada. :)
    be back to read more of your adventures.


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