You could say Canada’s culture is on thin ice.
The days of picturing this country as a nation full of hockey stick-toting, snowball-throwing, igloo-dwelling people is quickly coming to an end (although that last one probably isn’t so bad). Global warming is making Canada’s winters shorter and, well, warmer, and we’re losing a big part of our identity in the process.
“If we look at the long trend…there’s no question about it: winters aren’t what they used to be,” Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips said during a telephone interview. “When you look at the reputation we have, we have to say, maybe we’re not as winter-like as before. We’re not as cold.”
Canada is the second-coldest and snowiest country in the world, according to Phillips, and we’ve always embraced that. Typical Canadian kids grow up sucking maple taffy before they can walk, and playing hockey on frozen streets. We’ve all braved blizzards to get to work, and hopped snowbanks just to cross a street. This is who we are, but it’s quickly going away.
“If you stick a thermometer into Canada, we’ve warmed by three degrees,” Phillips said. “The chances of having a Wayne Gretzky from backyard rinks is a thing of the past.”
Three degrees is just the average. Some areas in Canada have warmed by as much as five degrees during the winter season. And in some cities where white Christmases were almost a guarantee, that’s now more of a toss up. Montreal, for example, which used to have about an 85 per cent chance of seeing snow on Christmas in the 1970s, now has only about 70 per cent. Winter itself, meanwhile, is warming faster than any other season.
Geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University are actually so concerned about the impact of global warming on Canada’s ice rinks, that they’ve launched a website to track the decline of outdoor skating season.
Well, we guess there’s always field hockey…