9 tips for surviving the Vancouver snow - from a Saskatchewanian

Dec 8 2016, 8:26 am

I never thought of myself as a Saskatchewanian until I moved to Vancouver.

When I got here, I instantly became that kid from the prairies. Which is a bizarre realization, because learning something about yourself that was always actually there doesn’t seem like it would be possible. It was a lot like the time Luke found out he had the Force – except in my case it’s more epic and there’s much more at stake.

Surviving in sub-arctic temperatures for over 20 years can give a person a particular set of skills, skills I have acquired across two decades of prairie life that can sometimes be taken for granted, and completely forgotten about upon moving to the tropical paradise that is the West Coast.

Which is why, as it snowed and snowed earlier this week, I reverted to prairie mode; I busted out the extension cord for my car, and dug out the long-johns from the depths of my closet.

Now, I’m no expert, but while living – more like enduring – the harsh conditions that are a Saskatchewan winter, I learned a few things about surviving in the snow.

Get a grip

Snow / Shutterstock

Snow / Shutterstock

I used to be a fashion-before-function kind of guy, until one icy evening I laced up a rundown pair of skate shoes that landed me flat on my back, essentially making a laptop sandwich between myself and the covered crosswalk. Wear some shoes that can handle the ice, your body will thank you.

Long undies are amazing

Long johns, super skivvys, the thermal base – call it what you want, but long underwear is the single greatest invention for those of us that hate being cold. It really does make waiting for the bus, walking to work, or exercising in the cold much more bearable, and it can be our little secret.

Scrape your windows

Image: Snowstorm / Shutterstock

Image: Snowstorm / Shutterstock

Quite possibly the most annoying part of colder weather – scraping your car’s windows. If you don’t have a brush or scraper, I’ve found that my overcharged credit card, or a government issued piece of ID will work just fine, just remember to wear some mittens or gloves.


The sooner you do it, the better. If everyone does their part, the sidewalks become a lot safer and easier to navigate; shovel your Grannie’s walk, too, as shovelling has proven fatal for many Canadians.


gin and tonic

Igor Normann/Shutterstock

You’re snowed in, what better excuse is there? Like I said, the snow can literally kill you. People die every year while shovelling, slipping, or crash landing their GT snow racers. Rum and eggnog, anyone?

Go sledding

Speaking of GTs; grab your tubes, toboggans, or crazy carpets and hit the shallow slopes. You won’t have to pay for a lift ticket, and the hills in Vancouver are endless.

Go shredding



Don’t take our mountains for granted. Back in my day, we had to drive 10 hours, uphill both ways, yada, yada, yada to find anywhere with worthwhile shredding.

Be patient and lend a hand

Things can get hairy – traffic, transit, heating bills – but we’re all in this together. If you see someone in a slushy rut, push them out. And, be patient on the roads, because people tend to panic; ‘tis the season to chill out.

Enjoy it

christmas fun


You have to admit, the frigid air and snowy banks do offer a certain charm. And while I’m nearly ready for the rain again, the sub-zero temperature with its sunny disposition are a welcome change from the daily drizzle.

Spencer Lucas OakesSpencer Lucas Oakes

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