Tag Archive: winter


Surviving Alberta Winter

Twenty seven years I spent in Alberta, north west of Calgary in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains as well as south west in the Kananaskis country [ http://www.kananaskis.com/ ]. Despite the cold winters, Alberta for me is still the most beautiful of Canada’s provinces. The landscape east of Calgary coming from Saskatchewan is rather flat and undulating, towards the mighty Rockies wide open skies and those wonderful mountains are a sight to behold. It is easy to imagine that the temperature during already cold winters is always at least ten degrees colder outside the cities. North west of Cochrane (which is the next town west from Calgary) I had snow up to five feet at times. The same when we lived almost ten years in Bragg Creek, a small hamlet south west of Calgary [ http://www.braggcreek.ca/ ], the snow was so high that I had to pull my old Dodge truck with my car over the acreage across the snow using my lariat, in order to be able to go to work in Calgary. Every morning up at 6 AM, driving down town to Calgary. When a blizzard hit the city, it had been impossible to drive home after work. I tried once, took me 3 hours slowly for twenty km. No heating in my car either.
When working up north on contracts, I needed to drive every weekend between Millarville [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millarville ] from my large acreage to downtown Edmonton. Friday after work down and Sunday night back. Many times during that winter I was the only driver coming out of Edmonton and driving south. We called this – highway No. 2 – the ‘killer highway’ because of the many accidents occurring during iced up winter roads. I counted at times at least fifty vehicles upside down and inside out in the ditches. Driving slowly, I made it. My ranch near Millarville was steep uphill, a quarter of a mile to the house, walking and leaving the car in front of my gate. Once my front door was frozen, I had to break in else to face freezing to death.
How did we survive ? As the saying goes: “There is no such thing as a cold winter, only bad clothing.” We wore arctic clothing and heavily padded overalls – like worn in the oil fields. Long underwear of course and heavy gloves and high padded boots. I had been in Fort McMurray as well working temporary for Suncor oil company in 1987. In winter. [ http://www.suncor.com/default.aspx ]. Lucky for all of us contractors, it did not last long, as one of their buildings blew up and all contractors had to leave. Today, living by the Pacific Coast, and warmer climes, I could not take that cold anymore.

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ALBERTA WINTER

ALBERTA WINTER

Image Although I feel for those poor souls in Europe, and their snow and cold troubles, I have to admit what comes in mind is: “There is no such thing as cold weather, there are only wrong clothes.” (As we always say here in Canada where snow and cold can occasionally last from between September and June in certain areas, especially Alberta.).In Alberta, the last heavy blizzard usually arrives in May each year. Despite, Alberta is one of the most beautiful Western provinces. No wonder that many movies – Westerns – are made right there.

For over 25 years I lived in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, west of Calgary.

Remembering the winter of 1997 – minus 50 degrees Celsius for a week. I had a ranch and horses, and they had to be fed. Getup at 5 in the morning, go out there with heavy clothing, and lug some hay bales around to the guys.

I also recall the many months I had to work up north on a computer contract, travelling 400 km one way between southwest of Calgary and downtown Edmonton. There were times I saw dozens of cars in the ditches, upside down and inside out, myself almost the only person on the highway – driving slow, slow (30 km/hour) to get there.

Then again we also had good times. When still living in the midst of the Kananaskis Country southwest of Calgary (best ski areas around), we often went out with the horses, wearing very heavy clothes when riding, then stopped somewhere, made a fire, and had something to eat and drink.

One can adjust to the situation. One can also find it good exercise to have to dig out a car, or shovel snow.

Since 2002 I am living in Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada’s Pacific west coast, milder weather. Sometimes even miss the snow.