For many Canadians, the idea of living in a winter wonderland is somewhere between “meh” and “I’m off to Mexico, see you in May.” There’s a bright side to winter, however. No matter how cold it is where you live, there’s a good chance that it’s even colder somewhere else in the country. In fact, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada was a rather chilly –63 °C in Snag, Yukon, in 1947. Not surprisingly, Snag as a village doesn’t exist anymore. Of the places where people still live though, these are some of the coldest towns and cities in Canada ranked by average low temperature of their coldest month.
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Edmundston, New Brunswick –18.5°C
Edmundston’s location in the northeastern Appalachian Mountains, near the border with Quebec and on the border with the United States means it sees lower temperatures than you’d expect for New Brunswick. The lowest temperature ever recorded here was –43.6°C and the average low in January, the coldest month, is –18.5°C.
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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan –18.9°C
In winter, Saskatonians who don’t mind the cold will go skating or cross-country skiing along the Meewasin Valley Trail. They do need to wrap up well in their stylish winter coats that can stand up to a Canadian winter, though. The lowest temperature recorded in Saskatoon was –46.1°C while the average low in January, the coldest month, is –18.9°C.
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Whitehorse, Yukon –19.2°C
With 19 hours of daylight, Whitehorse is one of the best cities to visit during the summer. In the winter, it’s another story. The long, long nights are quite frigid. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Whitehorse was –56.1°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –19.2°C.
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Baie-Comeau, Quebec –19.9°C
Baie-Comeau, on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, is a popular ski destination because of the heavy snowfall it receives in winter. The lowest temperature recorded here was –47.2°C and the average low for January, the coldest month, is –19.9°C.
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Regina, Saskatchewan –20.1°C
Regina has an abundance of spaces for outdoor winter activities like skating, cross-country skiing and tobogganing. You’ll need some good winter boots to keep you dry and warm, though. The lowest temperature recorded in Regina was –50°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –20.1°C.
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Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador –23°C
Around Nain you’ll find the southernmost tree line in the Northern Hemisphere. With the heavy snowfall it experiences every winter, it’s probably a good thing that you can’t reach the town by road and so there’s less reason to spend your days outside with a shovel. The lowest temperature recorded here was –45.6°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –23°C.
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Timmins, Ontario –23°C
Timmins is the hometown of quite a few famous people, including one of the world’s richest singers, Shania Twain. It’s also become a popular snowmobiling destination. The lowest temperature recorded here was –44.2°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –23°C.
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Winnipeg, Manitoba –23.6°C
Winnipeg is notorious for its miserable winters, where the wind chill can drop so low that you can practically feel your face freeze as you step outside. The lowest temperature recorded in Winnipeg was –45°C and in January, the average low is –23.6°C.
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La Ronge, Saskatchewan –24.2°C
La Ronge lies on the shore of Lac La Ronge, a popular fishing spot in summer. The problem is that summer here is over very quickly and winter is long, dry and very, very cold. You’ll definitely want to invest in a few of the coziest sweaters for under $100. The lowest temperature recorded in La Ronge was –52.2°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –24.2°C.
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Watson Lake, Yukon –27.5°C
Watson Lake is famous for its Signpost Forest, where many of the more than 76,000 signposts point to much warmer climes. The town is also home to one of the most amazing Canadian camping spots but you’ll want to avoid camping here in winter. The lowest temperature recorded in Watson Lake was –58.9°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –27.5°C.
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Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador –27.8°C
Wabush is a small mining town near the border between Labrador and Quebec. Winters here are among the wettest and snowiest in Canada and are still going strong when everyone else is already enjoying spring. The lowest temperature ever recorded here was –47.8°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –27.8°C.
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Thompson, Manitoba –29.3°C
Thompson is one of the Canadian cities with the worst winters that seem to last forever. The lowest temperature recorded here was –48.9°C and the average low for January the coldest month, is –29.3°C.
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Yellowknife, Northwest Territories –29.5°C
If you’ve ever experienced a Yellowknife heat wave or come to see the fall colours under the Northern Lights, you’ll find it hard to believe just how cold it can get here. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Yellowknife was –51.2°C and the average low in January the coldest month, is –29.5°C.
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Norman Wells, Northwest Territories –29.9°C
In summer, you can easily get to Norman Wells simply by cruising down the Mackenzie River but in winter you’ll have to drive in along an ice road. The wind chill here can drop so low for an average of 35.9 days between November and April that you’ll get frostbite within a few minutes. The lowest temperature recorded in Norman Wells was –54.4°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –29.9°C.
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Dawson City, Yukon –30.1°C
The Yukon is one of the places that will pay you to live there and while Dawson City with its Klondike Gold Rush history is one of the territory’s most charming towns, it’s easy to see why people think twice about moving here. Dawson City is actually built on a layer of permafrost and if this melts, consequences for the town may be dire. The lowest temperature recorded here was –58.3°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –30.1°C.
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Churchill, Manitoba –30.1°C
In Churchill it gets so cold in winter that you’d swear you’d just seen a polar bear strolling past. That won’t be a figment of your imagination: Churchill is also known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World and for this reason, it’s not recommended that you venture out on your own in winter. Not that you’d want to. The lowest temperature recorded here was –45.6°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –30.1°C.
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Inuvik, Northwest Territories –31°C
One of the best Canadian bike tours to ride before winter is the Dempster Highway from Dawson City to Inuvik. The key to remember is “before winter.” Once the colder months arrive, you don’t want to venture out on a bike in Inuvik. The lowest temperature recorded here was –56.7°C and in January, the coldest month, the average low is –31°C.
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Iqaluit, Nunavut –31.7°C
The capital of Nunavut is not only the smallest provincial or territorial capital in Canada but also the coldest. It’s so cold for most of the year that trees don’t really grow here and on average, July is the only month that’s completely snow free. The record low recorded in Iqaluit was –45.6°C, but in February, the coldest month, the average low is –31.7°C.
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Resolute, Nunavut –35.8°C
For intrepid travellers, Resolute is a stop on one of those cruises that go off the beaten path, through the Northwest Passage. For about two hundred very resolute people, however, this tiny town is home, even if they have never experienced temperatures above freezing between late October and early May. The record low in Resolute was –52.2°C, but the average low in February, the coldest month, is –35.8°C.
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