O Canada

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So you've heard Inauguration Day is coming up soon (or maybe it's already happened -- I should get a calendar) and now you've decided you want to move to Canada. Great! We'd love to have you!

But maybe you should learn some things about Canada first, eh? So here we are, and we'll start you off with a few bits and pieces about Canadian Weather!

You've probably heard it's cold here, but that's really not true. In fact, it's not warm, either. The thing is, the thermometers all freeze solid in the winter here, so there's no way to tell anything about the temperature, at all! So it's just wrong to say "it's cold", like somebody could measure it, eh?

So rather than just telling you "it's cold", we'll give you a few actual facts about the weather here.

Facts[edit | edit source]

  • In northern Canada it's so cold there's no water vapor at all in the air. It's all frozen solid (on the roads, in a thin sheet, where it belongs).
  • None the less, it's common to find frost on the lawn in the morning. But since there's no water vapor in the air, of course it's not frozen water. It's frozen carbon dioxide.
  • Canada has the freshest air in the world. That's because there's hardly any carbon dioxide in it, because the carbon dioxide freezes out of the air on cold nights.
  • In the United States, it's common to have a block heater installed in your car to help it start on cold mornings. In Canada, all cars also have tank heaters, which are left on all night during the winter to keep the gasoline from freezing in the tank.[1]
  • New immigrants are given an educational packet by the Border Guards. One of the most important items in it is the breathing instructions. You must never inhale through your mouth during the winter, or you may freeze your bronchial tubes, which can be fatal.
  • In addition, you must remember to avoid inhaling through your nose, as that can lead to instant frostbite. This is why so many Canadians have no noses -- they forgot, and inhaled through their noses during the winter, and so they lost them. In fact, Voldemort is from Canada.
  • Due to the difficulty of breathing safely, many Canadians have ear tubes surgically implanted. They then just breathe through their ears during the winter.
  • Goggles are extremely important, and must be worn whenever you go outdoors, even for a short period. Otherwise the cold air can freeze your eyeballs, which can make it impossible for you to find your way back indoors. In Canada, having frozen eyeballs is called snow blindness, and it is, unfortunately, an all too common condition.
  • When the temperature is exceptionally low, it's called "whiteout conditions", in reference to the milky color the lenses of your eyes turn when they're flash frozen by contact with the supercooled air.
  • In the colder areas of the country, it's common to carry oxygen tanks in case the temperature drops below the liquefaction temperature of oxygen. Once that happens, the air contains only nitrogen, and you need an air tank to keep breathing.
  • Speed limits on Canadian highways are reduced to 30 km/hour throughout the country during the winter. This is because of the danger of driving on frozen tires. The rubber becomes very brittle, and can shatter if the car hits a bump while going too fast. Every winter a number of accidents result from shattered tires, which can result in loss of control of the vehicle.
  • Ice fishing is a popular sport in Canada. All it requires is a powerful flashlight and an ax (and the usual gloves, mittens, balaclava, hat, scarf, two three multiple sets of long underwear, extreme weather boots, goggles, and so forth). You just walk out onto a frozen river and, using the flashlight, look for fish that have been frozen in the ice. When you find one, you chop it out of the ice with the ax. (You could dispense with the flashlight if you went ice fishing during the day, but during the winter the daylight only lasts about two hours, so that's often not a good option.)
  • In parts of Canada, we have a condition called permafrost[2]. That means the temperature never goes above freezing, ever.
  • Keeping the ice on the driveway down to a layer no more than four or five inches thick requires constant vigilance. Those who let their driveways go for a few days often resort to using dynamite to break up the ice. The larger chunks are normally placed in the blue ice bin provided by the city so they can be hauled away with the other household garbage.

Snow Mosquitoes[edit | edit source]

You may be thinking that at least, once you get to Canada, you won't have to deal with nasty little biting insects anymore.

Guess again.

From April to July it's black fly season (as you probably had heard). Then from August to October it's mosquito season[3].

Then there are three days in late November when it's relatively bug-free.

And then the snow mosquitoes hatch out, and they're active for the rest of November, all of December, and clear into March, when the black flies start hatching out.

Nobody knows where snow mosquitoes came from, nor how they can tolerate the terrible temperatures[see previous section]. However, it's strongly suspected that their origin has something to do with the high radiation levels which resulted from the many uranium mines.[4]

Snow Mice[edit | edit source]

Every January, houses in Canada are invaded by hordes of mice. They're snow mice, and they oversummer as eggs buried deep under the grass of the lawn. Shortly after midwinter's eve, they hatch, and start digging tunnels through the snow, which is soon riddled with their trails. And they also tunnel through any walls which they might encounter, such as the ones around the foundation of your house.

On account of this, it's common to include titanium pins in the concrete mix used for foundations in Canada. The snow mice can tunnel through ordinary concrete, but their teeth are not sharp enough to bite through the titanium in the "Canada mix".

Snow Worms[edit | edit source]

One of the more unusual hazards of the Canadian winter are the snow worms[5].

Historically, they lived in the tunnels of the snow mice, and sustained themselves by catching mice. In recent years, however, they've found the interior of coaxial data cables to be at least as salubrious as the mouse tunnels, and many of them cut their way through the cable sheaths every winter, causing unexpected loss of television signals, and also causing panic attacks in any homeowner foolish enough to unplug his cable to look for the problem. Having a three foot long snow worm slither out the end of a disconnected TV cable has caused more than one Canadian to consider moving someplace with less aggressive wildlife.

  1. Stating that the gasoline "freezes" is actually an exaggeration. In fact, the gasoline doesn't freeze solid; it just turns into a thick slurry of waxy petroleum crystals and lighter hydrocarbons. (Except in Nunavut, where it actually freezes solid.)
  2. Not to be confused with permadryfrost, which is when the temperature never goes above the freezing point of carbon dioxide.
  3. Remember to keep a scarf over your face when you go out during late summer. Choking on the clouds of mosquitoes results in a number of fatalities every year.
  4. During the 1800's Canada was the premier provider of uranium to all the countries of the world. It was only when Khrushchev and Kennedy had a falling out over Cuban missiles that Canada stopped shipping their product world-wide.
  5. The Canadian snow worms provide the archetype on which the giant purple worms in the book "Dune" were based.