The Weather (1/10)

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Who are we? Every once in a while, we wonder, locals and immigrants alike. People shaped the country we live in, but the face of this same country changed, evolved and reflects today’s world as well as its history. At least, I hope so, because I consider change chance and not a threat.

Canada is a multicultural country. Today, according to the BBC , 20% of people living in Canada are foreign-born and 250 000 newcomers make Canada their home each year. These people will soon be Canadians are most of them will adapt to the North American way of life, while bringing some aspects of their own culture in Canada. Food, languages, customs, skills… we all win.

Yet, some are scared. Who are we? We all are the faces of Canada. The traditional Anglo-European face of the country is changing, that’s true. But Canada is very much alive. National identity isn’t something static and we don’t have to look alike to form a country. A lot of things make Canada a distinct country, from the trivial little things to political choices, from geographical places to special people, from values we share to things that bring us together.

In 2008, I’ll apply for Canadian citizenship. I first came here in 2002 and I’ll be one of these foreign-born. French. Canadian. And a citizen of the world.

What defines Canada? I’m starting a series on our icons, from people to places, from everyday life’s items to sports, from trademarks to customs. Don’t expect anything too deep: this is Canada the way I see it. I don’t bring answers. I just want to share, and I will with you every Saturday — enjoy!



Obvious Canada #1 icon: the weather. When you think of Canada, you have the mental picture of a frozen tundra. Can’t blame you, because it’s pretty accurate! Weather changes are often drastic and we can go from +40C in the summer to –40C in the winter.

I took the first picture on the left in the summer, at sunset. This is the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. The second picture was taken during last year’s Winterlude. In front of the actual building is an ice replica of the Parliament.

The weather here has a price. I’m not talking about the zillions weather channels and weather-related websites, but also about the snow clearing budget. The last big storm buried Ottawa in debt, as the Ottawa Citizen explains. Salting roads, clearing snow in the streets, closing schools and sometimes services comes at a — pretty high — price Snow removal sometimes turns into a big issues, and I’m not even talking about the dreaded ice rains and ice storms that can destroy crops and paralyze a city faster than you can say “oh shit”.

Yet, Canadians love to brag about the weather, and I like to indulge too, as in Blizzard, checked or Through The Storm. If you wait for the bus in and it’s –40C outside, chances are that someone waiting with you will comment: “oh, that’s nothing… back in the 70s, it was at least –50C for six months a year!“. If you’re shoveling snow on your driveway, passerby may say: “well, the 1990 storm was much worse, trust me on that eh!“. Basically, the weather was always colder, the storms were always bigger, the rain was much wetter… long time ago. Preferably when you weren’t here or too young too witness.

I’m tellin’ ya. They like it. And so do I.


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. Very interesting post and even if I’ve haven’t been in Canada, I feel its very much like Norway when it comes to weather and climate.

    A close friend family from Norway emigrated to Canada in the late 50s (to Vancouver). They seams to have adjusted very well and feels like North Americans now but have still kept their Norwegian so its always easy to chat with them when the visit Norway 🙂

  2. LOL! And I thought it was only the British that always talked about the weather. Over here, everybody refers to the summer and winter of 1976…. The deep snow and the heatwaves.

    It looks like we aren’t going to see much snow here this year 😥 so, it is great to look at your photos. Thanks for sharing!!!

    And Zhu…. it sounds like you are becoming ever more Canadian…lol! I love it 🙂

    Best wishes and I hope you have a great 2008 ~ Graham

  3. Oh yes, Canadian weather. What I’ve noticed about Canadian weather is how much everyone else in Canada likes to make fun of Toronto, since it doesn’t get as cold or snow as often as the rest of Canada. Having moved from Minnesota, I’ve been surprised how much people don’t like snow and cold here. But it’s still early in the winter, so I’m not as seasoned as you are, Zhu.

    Congratulations on your application for Canadian citizenship. If this Huckabee fellow is the next President in the U.S, I might be doing the same in 2009.

  4. I can absolutely relate to the weather with this one. Plus, we get lake-effect snow here in Buffalo! It makes a great difference as to which side of Lake Erie and Ontario one lives!

    A question; how long do you need to live in Canada before you can apply for citizenship?

  5. Being from what we call the Northeast, I happen to know Canadians have the same four seasons I had growing up: Back To School, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction.

  6. Thank you for this interesting postcard
    Will you have dual citizenship or will the French part be gone for good?

  7. So, you’re going to be tagged as Canadian citizen right? Well, that’s a good thing and you could begin to get used to be tagged because.. ehm, well yeah, you’ve been tagged. Sorry lol

  8. Best of luck to you my friend on the Canadian citizenship quest. That is awesome!
    Isn’t it funny how we also ALWAYS say “cold enough for ya, eh?” that always cracks me up when someone says that.
    Here’s another Canadian thing….was in New Orleans visiting recently, and stayed at my man friends house. He was like, “did you know you forgot your shoes at the door?” lol
    Sorry I havent been around much, but your blog looks AWESOME.

    You’ve been tagged sweetie…

  9. Saskboy: eh, a blogger from Regina! That’s cool — I feel famous country wide now! 😆

    Tiffany: it’s an experience though. A lot of people like to see the cold cold weather and the inches of snow. Yet, I understand you…!

    RennyBA: I know! The more I read about Norway, the more I see the similarities! Funny, eh!

    Graham: must be a British trend then. No one cares about the weather in France, and the forecast is never ever accurate.

    Johnada: We like to make fun of Toronto for a lot of things when you think of it… hockey, you calling the army each time you get more than 10 cm of snow, the crime thing… thanks for making us laugh! 😆

    Linguist-In-Waiting: You can apply for citizenship after 3 years of Permanent Residence. If you were living in Canada before you got the Permanent Residence (i.e student visa, work visa), these days count as half a day. That’s my case… I’ve been in Canada since 2002, but on tourist, then on a temp. work visa. I only got the PR in 2005, that’s why I’m applying so late 😉 Takes about a year to be processed.

    Alexander: thank you!

    Spyder: thanks for the tips! Beau Dommage is quite famous (or was) in France, we learned a couple of songs from them back in elementary school.

    Jay Cam: I understand. But this of it this way: no hurricanes here…

    Pelf: cool! Canada is a nice place, hope you get a chance to come here!

    Ghosty: 😆 exactly that! Although believe me or not, but this season is a mix of winter/ construction!

    Froogiewoogie: ouch, I felt that tag! 😆 Okay, okay, I’ll do it for you, frog! I will keep my French citizenship as well, just for the sake of all the open door in the EU. Plus, who knows, maybe the left-wing will win the next election? 😉

    Chrissie: happy new year girl! No worries about the blog visiting, we are all very busy, I know that! I heard before that taking shoes off was very Canadian, but we do it in Europe too… 😉 And thanks for the praise too!

  10. awesome post! also, i noticed that you are selling a banner…maybe i can add a banner on there :)…i’ll have to save my pennies

  11. Hey Zhu!
    That’s a lotta people piling into a not THAT populous country… not that populous compared to the “great” US of A I suppose… then again you ARE 30,000,000 which is half the 60,000,000 of Britain so not THAT little!
    Talking of Chinese cooking: you don’t happen to know a good blackbean sauce recipe do you? Or one you can point me to?
    Also even more to the point as I’ve really been seeking this one out with scant success: I’m desperate for a recipe for Chinese curry sauce. You know what I mean? It’s NOTHING like Indian curry and you could not make it with garam masala or anything like that… Neither would 5-spice do. Though I’ve been told Star Anise is the “secret” ingredient in it… I once had curry at a Japanese restaurant and their sauce was the same as Chinese curry sauce… I am desperate for a good reliable recipe for this… have you any ideas? Your assistance would be MUCH appreciated!

    Many thanks



  12. Zhu,
    Lest we forget that it was you fore-fathers that were the first permanent settler’s in what most European’s considered a “God forsaken land”. In 1535 Cartier (on his second tour of duty) and his crew spent their first winter in what is now Quebec City. Most of his crew died of scurvy.
    Thankfully you have faired better. I hope that you do not take to Cartier’s bad habits of kidnapping the local inhabitants (of Ottawa) to take back to France. If you do, start with Federal politicians.

  13. Very interesting – it seems Canadiens and Norwegians are likely talking about the unpredectible weather. With the exception may be when in the Osoyos (BC) area – with it’s more or less desert climate. We did visit BC the summer of 2006 and went by Canada 3 from Vancouver to Glacier NP. What a change in climate and landscape.

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