Canada – Climate

SOME susceptible Canadian folk were much exercised when Rudyard Kipling coined the phrase “Our Lady of the Snows ” and exception was taken to the title by many writers who disclosed an amusing anxiety to show that even though the Canadian climate in winter was somewhat wintry, it also possessed features more approximating in character to the tropical. It is to be hoped, however, that when the poet subsequently put on record in speaking of Canada that ” there is a fine hard, bracing climate, the climate that puts iron and grit into man’s bones,” he was fully and truly forgiven by the aggrieved ones.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Prime Minister, during a tour in Western Canada in the summer of 1910, said this of the climate of his country : ” For my part I have no fault to find with the Canadian climate. Some few years ago Rudyard Kipling, the Imperial poet, referring to Canada as ‘Our Lady of the Snows,’ caused some critics to find fault with the title. I approve the appellation. The climate of Canada is the glory of Canada. It is the climate of Canada which makes the No. 1 hard wheat. It is the climate of Canada which puts the bloom upon the cheeks of the better half of the audience before me. When I rise on a winter morning and see the smoke rising in the atmosphere one hundred feet above the chimneys, perpendicularly in the clear, cold, still air, I know what it is that makes our men strong and our women beautiful. This country has not been made by God for the effete, for the timorous or for the laggard, but the strong and willing will find labour rewarded as in no other part of the world.”

It is superfluous to assert that in a country forming half the North American continent there must necessarily be not one but a great variety of climates, all of which are healthy, although in some parts great variations of heat and cold are met with. Throughout Canada the European thrives and multiplies.

Taking the country by provinces and beginning with Nova Scotia on the Atlantic, the climate of this province is similar to that of the North Eastern States of the American Union, but without the excessive heat or extreme cold experienced there. The mean temperature of summer is 62°, and of winter 23°. When it is remembered that so many thousands of barrels of apples are annually forwarded to the markets of the United Kingdom and that the country generally is of a fertile character, it will be seen that in this province, the climate has little to be said against it, and the same remark applies to the neighbouring province of Prince Edward Island.

In New Brunswick, which like the two provinces named is known as a Maritime province, the climate is healthy in winter and summer, although the former is somewhat severe, and in the latter a high temperature prevails. The average rainfall is thirty inches, and the average snowfall eighty-eight inches, while the total precipitation of rain and melted snow averages forty-four inches.

In the province of Quebec alone there is quite a variety of climate, and the longevity of its inhabitants is the best testimony to offer of its healthy character. Generally speaking, the features of the climate may be said to be cold winters, short springs, and long and sunny summers. Snow usually begins to disappear towards the latter end of March, and warm weather sets in during June continuing well into September. The mean summer temperature averages 5&3° and the mean winter temperature 15°. The winters are distinguished by a dry bracing atmosphere which modifies the cold and renders them more agreeable than they otherwise would be.

The province of Ontario, extending as it does further south than any of the other portions of the Dominion but with territory stretching to the north as far as James Bay, and the west to the border of Manitoba covering in all some 260,000 square miles, may be expected to offer within its own borders a diversity of climatic conditions. In the southern portion of the province the winter may be said to be only moderately cold as compared with other portions. The influence of the Great Lakes on the climate not only renders the winter less severe, but greatly tempers the heat of summer. In the northern portions of Ontario the winters are colder and the snowfall heavier, and this applies equally to the north-western district known as New Ontario. Where the climate is colder, however, the atmospheric conditions are dry and exhilarating, and everywhere of a healthy character.

The Prairie region extending from the eastern boundary of Manitoba to the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains may be taken as a whole, as generally speaking the climatic conditions are the same except in the western portion of Alberta. The winters, though long and cold are sunny and bracing, and the conditions are uniform throughout, the low temperatures not being nearly so unpleasant to experience as in districts where there is greater moisture. The writer has slept practically in the open during the greater part of a severe winter in Manitoba without experiencing ill-effects. The spring is an invigorating season, the summer warm and pleasant, and the autumn long and agreeable.

In the western portions of Alberta the conditions are found to be somewhat different on account of the influence of the Chinook winds, the warm currents from the Pacific, the influence of which extends over the Rocky Mountains exercising a moderating effect on the climate of Alberta during the winter months.

Of the climate of British Columbia, Professor Macoun, the Canadian Government Naturalist, has stated that it is superior to that of England in every respect, both as regards heat and moisture. The same authority says : ” There can be no doubt that when the forest is cleared, by whatever cause, the soil will become drier and the climate will become considerably milder. Owing to the latitude, the sun’s rays fall obliquely on the forest, and as a natural result there is little evaporation. As Germany was to the Romans, so much of the North West is to us a land of marsh and swamp and rigorous winter. Germany has been cleared of her forest, and is now one of the finest and most progressive of European countries. May not the clearing of our north-western forests produce a smilax result in the future of British Columbia ? ”

The effect of the Japanese current in the Pacific, produces a similar effect on the climate of British Columbia as the Gulf Stream does on that of the United Kingdom. The conditions in Vancouver Island are for the most part similar to those in the south of England, but the summer heat is greater with less humidity. The mainland is, however, more humid, and especially to the north where the rainfall is heavy. Inland the climate is cold in the winter and warm in the summer.