10 Signs It’s Definitely Summer in Canada

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It’s summer in Canada. It’s hot and sunny and… Wait. I can’t speak for all of Canada. Maybe it’s snowing where you live, after all. Let’s be more specific—it’s summer in Ontario.

I’m sure of it.

I have proof—ten unmistakable signs.

People are moving in or out

Moving trucks on Merivale Road, Ottawa, June 2018

A province-wide moving madness keeps Quebec busy while the rest of us are celebrating Canada Day. The federal holiday, usually overshadowed by Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24, also coincides with the “Jour du déménagement,” a century-old tradition in the province.

In Ontario, tenancies don’t end on July 1 and there’s no designated moving day. However, you’ll see many U-Haul vans around in July and August because dragging furniture from the living room to the back of a truck is best done when there isn’t an inch of ice or several feet of snow on your driveway.

Construction, construction everywhere

Preston Street, Ottawa, June 2018

There are two seasons in Canada—winter and construction. In a variant of the joke, the construction crane is the national bird.

All over the country, roads are being repaved, sidewalks are being fixed and pot holes are being filled. Expect detours, orange traffic signs, lane reductions and street closures. Don’t expect everything to be fixed on time. But that’s okay, because it’s a chance for your city or neighbourhood to win the CAA’s annual Worst Roads campaign!

Summer bus schedule

Preston Street, Ottawa, June 2018

Forget about the route schedule you’ve finally mastered—here comes the summer schedule! The revamped service usually means less frequent service or no more service as if suddenly, no one needed to take the bus.

Sure, school is out but many students ride the school bus anyway, and there is a summer session at university. I don’t understand the summer bus schedule. I curse the summer bus schedule because the price is the same for awful service.

Interesting vehicles on the road

Preston Street, Ottawa, June 2018

Ottawa, June 2018

Vehicles suddenly carry people and “cottage gear” such as bikes, canoes or kayaks. You will notice RVs, some with a Florida licence plate—snowbirds enjoying summer months at home? Finally, there are also many bikes and sports cars around, but I’m never fast enough to take a picture—they speed by, as if they had to make up for those winter months when they had regular, boring wheels.

Summer drinks

Preston Street, Ottawa, June 2018

Every major franchise has a summer drinks promo. McDonald’s offers any size fountain drink for $1, Tim Hortons has the Iced Capp, Starbucks sell the Frappuccino and Harvey’s has—I kid you not—the Shakeslush, “made with half vanilla shake and half slushie.”

It’s common to see teens walking around holding a convenience store Slurpee while adults with purchasing power usually favour the Frappuccino or an Iced Capp.

Canadian flags

Baseline and Merivale, Ottawa, June 2018

Right before July 1, Canadians like to show off their patriotic side by raising the flag up a pole in their backyard or attaching it to a balcony. These flags usually stay up through the summer, sometimes until Halloween when they are replaced by seasonal zombies and monsters.

Bugs and critters

Experimental Farm pathway, Ottawa, June 2018

Hibernation is over and critters are very active. My new neighbours are rabbits, squirrels, beavers, the occasional snake, mosquitoes, flies, spiders and earwigs. And yes, we live in the city.

Just as I’m typing this, there are eight baby skunks crossing the street. I feel like I’m in a freaking Pixar movie.

Severe weather warnings

Forget about snow and ice, now we have thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Watch out for these legendary downpours!

Oh, and extreme heat warnings too.

The sound of fireworks

It’s common to hear and see fireworks from Canada Day to the Labour Day long weekend. In a country where it’s against the law to smoke within several feet of a public building and where any appliance has safety warnings in both languages, I always find it surprising it’s allowed to play with fireworks in your backyard. Go figure.

Apparently, in Ottawa, “The sale of fireworks is permitted only on Victoria Day and Canada Day and the seven business days preceding those days.” I’m not sure by-laws are enforced…

What does summer look like where you live?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Martin Penwald on

    I was on highway 16 west monday, and there was a lot of idiots with their RV going back to Edmonton.
    By the way, construction doesn’t fix anything. They are just playing bowling outside.

      • Martin Penwald on

        To switch trailers and take my next load for somewhere in North America. Currently for Houston, and staying for the night at Pierre.

        • Ah, it makes sense for you, I meant how come people in general are willingly going back to Edmonton!

          (Une fois à Pierre, n’oublie pas de dire “non, je ne vous jette pas la pierre, Pierre…”)

          • Martin Penwald on

            Hé, rigole pas, Pierre est une Capitale d’État. Si, si. Une des rares à ne pas être reliée au réseau d’interstates.

          • Sérieux? J’avais jamais entendu ce nom (enfin, dans le contexte d’une capitale d’état…).

            Bon, allez, c’est quoi le nom de ville le plus drôle que tu as vu pendant tes périples?

          • Martin Penwald on

            La Pine, dans l’Oregon. Ah, ah, j’ai écrit pine 🙂
            C’est sur la US-97.

            Pour les capitales d’état, il faut noter un truc : si on demande à quelqu’un en France de nommer des grandes villes américaines, on va avoir New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, Memphis, mais aucune n’est capitale. Il y a quand même des capitales connues comme Philadelphie, Boston, Denver, Atlanta, mais ce ne sont pas toujours les premiers noms qui nous viennent à l’esprit quand on parle des États-Unis.

            En capitale peu connue mais rigolote d’un point de vue français, il y a Montpelier qui est la capitale du Vermont.

          • Mouarf! Moi je glousse toujours quand je passe devant un resto à Ottawa qui s’appelle “Bite” 😉

            Tu as complètement raison pour les capitales d’état. C’est un peu la même chose au Canada avec les provinces pour les étrangers… Pour Montpelier, je savais, y’a pas mal de polars qui se passent dans le Vermont 😉

  2. Pfiou ! I’ll have to answer you with a post as there is much going on during summer (and I live in a very quiet rural area !). Just to give you an idea : it’s time to harvest hay, so haystacks are popping up on fields, I have to clean up my windshield every 2 days because of all the insects impact, each Sunday there are at least 3 brocantes and 2 other kinds of events organized. Every time I meet my mum (every 2 days), she tells me to pick up the raspberries or they’ll go bad and be “doomed” (how would you say that? “perdues”) among other things to be done urgently in the veggies garden… I’m not sure how casual I can come to work (opened shoes, light dress?)…
    But summer is not over yet and many more summer signs will come ! I’ll share them ! 😉

    • It’s funny, I don’t associate summer with harvest time. To me, harvest is done in the fall…!

      I’d say these raspberries could be too ripe or that they are spoiling 😉

      Ah, these brocantes! Beats a garage sale, for sure.

      I kind of like your summer, sounds fun and… yep, summery.

  3. Backyard fires are a sign of summer in Regina. In the evening Regina smells like a giant burning garbage dump. You can’t open your windows or go for a walk in the evening because of toxic smoke from backyard fires. The choking smoke not only makes it hard to breath, the stench gets into your clothing and your furniture. My niece has asthma and spends most of the summer indoors because of this. It is funny that city council gets all self-righteous about cigarette smoke but has no problems with wood smoke which is 30 times more potent a carcinogen. Wood smoke particles are smaller than a micron and are far more damaging to your lungs than cigarette smoke.

    They say there is fire inspector available 24 hours a day to investigate complaints. You are only supposed to burn approved wood between noon and 1:00 a.m. Good luck with that. The stench outside tells me that people are not following the rules. How are you supposed to find the fire or fires responsible when the smoke can drift from blocks away. The only permitted fuels are charcoal, seasoned wood or manufactured fire logs. These fuels still produce smoke and the sheer number of fires produces the problem. Wood fires of any kind in densely populated urban areas are a bad idea.

    I notice that Ottawa bans the burning of wood in urban areas:

    Electric, natural gas, propane and oil outdoor fireplaces are permitted.

    Under the City’s Open Air Fire By-Law (No. 2004-163), outdoor fireplaces that burn wood or solid fuels are strictly prohibited in densely populated areas, such as urban and suburban neighbourhoods, where Open Air Fire Permits are not permitted.

    This is a sensible solution that allows people to enjoy outdoor fires without poisoning their neighbours.

    • Wow, that’s something I can’t imagine. I have to admit I’m afraid of fire–fire is deadly and dangerous (okay, useful too sometimes…!). I can’t imagine it’s okay to burn stuff like that. I think the only time I found bonfires appropriate was at the beach, two metres from the water. Still, it’s not common practice anywhere I’ve been.

      How can this be legal??

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen an open fire (other than a house burning down) in Ottawa. I live in a urban area, mind you… still, the stench you must be living with!

    • These skunks had TERRIBLE timing. Middle of the night, I was upstairs in my room… saw them crossing under the street light as I was plugging my phone on the charger under the window!

  4. Nous c’est le cours de karaté qui est passé de 18h30 à 18h. A quel moment, sachant que tu choisis un cours parce que l’horaire te correspond, ont ils trouvé pertinent de le changer au motif que c’est l’été ?!

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