Making do with the West Coast in winter


My skate blade makes a deep cut in the ice. I push off and take another long stride. I look up. Past my steamy breath, I can see the icy blue sky, the treeless mountaintops and the frozen lake. The glassy lake hiccups and gurgles with every stride. I skate faster and faster; I approach the shore when all of a sudden, I wake up in hot and frustrated sweat. I’m in my Victoria apartment, and I can hear wind tossing rain against my windows.

There are days — and weeks and months — when living on the West Coast is incomparable. We have a gentle spring and mildly warm summers, as well as gorgeous mountains and an even nicer coastline. Come fall and winter, however, the rain starts and shows no sign of stopping. Even if we are lucky enough to get a few days of snow, it is quickly washed away and replaced with weeks of slushy roads and icy sidewalks.

We West-Coasters don’t get the full Canadian winter experience. The snowy wonderlands, the vast frozen lakes and the family toboggan trips to the park are rarities where we come from. I’m okay with missing out on the long winters like those experienced out East, but I would trade our mild West Coast climate for an hour of hockey on a frozen lake.

Yes, Whistler and the coastal mountains provide the hard-working folks of B.C. with some winter recreation, but what I’m looking for is the true Canadian experience. The bulk of us grew up playing on indoor ice surfaces and skiing on man-made snow. Just once, I would like a winter chock-full of outdoor winter sports.

This winter, get in touch with your Canadian roots. Get off the coast for a few days and track down your very own winter wonderland. Find a pond and lace up your blades or take a walk in a snow-covered forest. You will find that the winter season can bring more than a few days off school and a couple big feasts.

I hit snooze on my alarm and return to my frozen dreamland. The lake is smooth and the air is crisp. I know I’m not there, but I don’t care. I feel like a true Canadian when I stickhandle around pieces of firewood and come to a stop in the middle of a frozen lake. I’ve found my little chunk of winter. Where is yours?