Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Advice for your first winter in Canada | French-speaking immigration

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Pedestrians caught in snowfall in Toronto. (Archive photo)

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If you are new to Canada and are arriving from a warm country, here are some tips to make your first winter in Toronto or elsewhere in Canada easier.

It's certainly the new arrival's first instinct: shopping for warm clothes.

There’s no point buying them before arriving, it takes up more space in your suitcases and what you buy in your country of origin may not be suitable for Canada, explains Astrid Moulin. The content creator for French-speaking newcomers and regular columnist for Radio-Canada advises waiting until you arrive to make your purchases.

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The right material to stay warm

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Then there is the question of materials: synthetic or natural? Both work, assures Ken Kimmes, manager of the MEC store on Queen Street. In both cases, we must favor breathability, materials that allow moisture to be evacuated from the body, he explains, because this is what contributes to the feeling of cold.

He advises avoiding wearing cotton, whether as underwear or for socks, a material that absorbs perspiration and retains humidity.

Wool, a regulating material, retains its favors: it is excellent because it helps to keep warm when it is cold and vice versa, it acts opposite to the outside weather.

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If you can afford it, anticipate discounts and buy your stuff before the start of winter

A quote from Astrid Moulin, content creator for French-speaking newcomers

Changing all or part of your wardrobe can quickly cause the bill to skyrocket, especially for families. Second hand goods can reduce expenses, and social networks can be very useful for this.

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Astrid Moulin, who made herself known through her blog as well as on social networks, has lived through several Toronto winters. She advises to equip yourself on site and anticipate. (File photo)

You shouldn't hesitate to look at discussion groups in your neighborhood for example, there are also people who sell their things because they are leaving Canada, advises Astrid Moulin.

Keeping an eye on seasonal discounts can also be a way to save money, she explains.

When the mercury drops, we tend to spend more time indoors, in closed spaces. Although homes and offices are ventilated, medical doctor Katherine Rouleau advises daily ventilation for a few minutes a day.

You have to resist the urge to close everything tightly. Literally, a change of scenery!

A quote from Dr. Katherine Rouleau, family physician in Toronto

The COVID pandemic has made actions such as wearing a mask and washing our hands part of our habits. But the variants continue to circulate, just as the other winter viruses have not ceased to exist.

Vigilance therefore remains essential according to her: we must remain attentive to the density in spaces, keep our distance from our interlocutors and disinfect our hands several times a day and avoid touching our face, especially our eyes, she reminds us.

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Keep your mind fresh.

The family doctor, also vice-president of global health and social responsibility at the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, also recommends paying attention to your mental health. Seasonal depression affects more people than we think, especially newcomers.

During winter, the sleep rhythm can be disrupted , and our bodies put to the test.

For Astrid Moulin, to counter the winter blues, there is nothing better than to embrace winter, to not live against the season. She sees it as an opportunity to recharge her batteries and take care of herself, and why not take on new activities, a good way to meet people.

It's easy to isolate yourself when you've just arrived

A quote from Astrid Moulin, content creator

The importance of being well equipped takes on its full meaning for Dr. Katherine Rouleau, for whom walks and outings are essential, to take the sun whenever possible.

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And if there isn't enough (it happens) vitamin D in the form of a dietary supplement to compensate.

Unlike Quebec, winter tires are not mandatory in Ontario. But Kristine d’Arbelles of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) recommends them for those who can afford them. For someone who has never driven on snow this is a good idea, the rubber on these tires means they have better grip and are effective for traction.

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A storm snow in winter

After snowy episodes, don’t be an igloo on the road, jokes Kristine d’Arbelles. She invites drivers to remove snow from all vehicle windows for better visibility, and also from above the car to prevent it from falling on the road and damaging other cars. She also advises defrosting your windows after starting the car.

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Kristine D'Arbelles, from the Canadian Automobile Association advises taking particular care of your vehicle for the first winter. (File photo)

As counterintuitive as it may seem, you need to make sure you have enough coolant.

To do this, do not hesitate to delve into your vehicle's manual, advises John Montpellier, technologist at the School of Trades and Technologies applied by Collège Boréal in Sudbury, follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

The manuals explain the procedures to follow, and sometimes you don't need a lot of knowledge to carry out checks

A quote from John Montpellier, technologist at the School of Trades and Applied Technologies at Collège Boréal

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Be careful of blind spots.

Kristine d'Arbelles advises , if you are not comfortable with the mechanics, carry out a pre-winter inspection at a garage.

Keep an eye on your vehicle's paint, warns John Montpellier. Bubbles on the surface may be an indicator that ice has infiltrated. A bare bodywork is not protected from corrosion and rust caused by road melts composed, among other things, of salt.

The battery is also an important element not to be neglected, they must be tested and generally changed every five years, explains Kristine d'Arbelles. This is one of the first reasons for calls we receive, people stopped on the side of the road with a dead battery.

The x27;organization also advises keeping your tank at least a quarter full, to protect the electronic components.

And finally, bring a kit emergency in your car, with something to keep warm and eat in the event of a breakdown on the road. The CAA provides a list of elements to be included on its website.

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