One of the many things that makes Canada such a great place to live is its array of beautiful natural landscapes and the outdoor activities that they offer. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy them. In fact, there are many outdoor activities that are still possible (if not better!) in the winter months. Since Canadian winters can seem to drag on forever, there’s really only one thing left to do: bundle up and embrace the great outdoors.
Canada is home to an abundance of lakes where recreational fishing is permitted. Do some research on recreational fishing lakes in your area that completely freeze over during the winter months and are safe to walk on. Make sure to also research fishing laws in your region, as you may need a fishing licence or Outdoors Card to legally ice fish – especially if you intend on keeping the fish that you catch. Once you’ve found your lake and brushed up on your local fishing laws, bring along a chair, safety kit, snacks, drinks, fishing gear and plenty of warm clothes. Then you can sit back, relax and drop a line through an opening in the ice. Patience is key when it comes to ice fishing! You may be there for a while, but the fresh air and beautiful landscape will make it all worth it.
Looking for something more active? Cross-country skiing is a great cardiovascular workout that exercises several muscle groups at once and helps to improve your balance. It’s the perfect activity for people of all ages and fitness levels, as you can choose the pace and trail that best suit your individual needs and abilities. Do some research on provincial and local trails that are groomed for cross-country skiing, or look up a local ski club who can help you get started – and make some friends along the way. Be sure to wear a helmet and dress for the weather, though you’ll be surprised by how warm you feel once you get your heartrate up!
Snowshoeing is another great cardiovascular workout that can get you outdoors this winter. Canada is home to many scenic hiking paths, some of which are still open in the winter months. Research some snowshoeing or winter hiking trails in your area and ensure that they are open and safe for public use. Then simply swap your hiking boots for snow shoes, pack an emergency kit with plenty of water and snacks, bundle up and get ready for an active day with breathtaking winter wonderland views.
If you’re more of a thrill-seeker, you can try hopping on a snowmobile and exploring some of the snowy tree-lined trails Canada has to offer. That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that snowmobiles are a vehicle, not a toy, and that if you intend on driving one you must be aware of how it works, how to drive safely in different situations, where you are allowed to drive it, and how provincial laws apply. In Ontario, you must wear a helmet, have either a valid Ontario driver’s licence to drive a snowmobile along trails or public roads where snowmobiles are allowed, or a valid motorized snow-vehicle operator’s licence that will allow you to drive on trails established and maintained by a recreational organization for the use of snow mobiles.1 Driving a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is never permitted and can result in the same impaired driving offences as the driver of a car or truck on a highway.
If you are planning on purchasing and operating your own snowmobile, note that snowmobiles must be registered and insured to be driven off your own property. Your insurance card must be carried with you every time you drive your snowmobile off your property and available to present to police or conservation officers when asked. In the event that another individual uses your snowmobile with your consent, you would both be responsible for any penalties, damages or injuries that may occur. Make sure to speak with your insurance broker about the liability insurance required for your snowmobile before hitting the trails this winter.
Outdoor Skating and Shinny Hockey
Perhaps one of the most iconic of Canadian winter activities is skating on an outdoor ice rink. Check to see if your local municipality has any outdoor ice rinks set up for public use during the winter season. Be sure to check whether or not these rinks are for skating only, or if there are times available for a good ol’ fashioned game of shinny hockey. Bring your friends and family, a helmet for each skater, a thermos of hot chocolate and lots of warm clothing. Then lace up your skates and get ready for a day of outdoor fun and friendly competition!
Wildlife Watching and Hunting
Spotting Canadian wildlife in the winter can be more difficult than in the warmer months, but certainly not impossible – if you know where to go. Check with local guides and conservationists to learn about the areas where you may be able to spot and photograph elk, moose, owls, beavers and white-tailed deer against a picturesque snowy background.
If you’re interested in winter hunting make sure that you are licensed to hunt in your province and have double-checked your local winter hunting season regulations. Note that hunting firearms often require an insurance rider, as they are a popular target for thieves and require additional coverage.
If you have any questions about insurance riders, or additional liability insurance that you may need for any of these outdoor winter activities, call your OTIP broker at 1-866-561-5559.
- Ontario Ministry of Transportation