Springtime in Canada
Spring in Canada is a lovely time of the year. The temperatures begin to warm up, flora blooms, animals come out of hibernation and give birth to their young. It is a great time to visit Canada, but when exactly is it “spring”? The fact is, the seasons do vary from one side of the country to the other, so if you’re thinking of visiting Canada in the spring, read on to find out when you should be planning your visit.
Even when we split the country into regions there are still huge differences in seasons and temperatures within those regions. In Western Canada, for example, you have some of the mildest weather in the country on the Pacific coast, around Vancouver, Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island. Here the climate is oceanic, influenced greatly by the Pacific Ocean, so Vancouver has some of the warmest winters along with mild summers. April and May in Vancouver and on the low-lying areas of Vancouver Island are very spring-like. The trees will be blooming and the days will get sunnier and warmer.
Head inland from the coast and it’s quite different. Usually the farther you are from the ocean the more continental the climate becomes but in the Interior of British Columbia this isn’t true. Kamloops for example has a semi-arid climate with the hottest summers in the country and quite mild winters compared to the Prairies. Springtime in Kamloops is also around late April to May and for a period of a month or two the landscape is a beautiful lush green until the hot weather starts up and the landscape turns a dusty brown.
Up in the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta, into the Rockies, you can expect it to be late May to June before spring really starts to take a hold. This is a really wonderful time to visit places like Banff National Park as the alpine wildflowers are so beautiful and you may be lucky enough to see young elk and moose calves. They are so cute and wobbly-legged when they’re young!
Central Canada is the land of Prairies and a continental climate. Winters can be extremely harsh in cities like Saskatoon and Regina where the average high temperature in January is around -10C. The Central Canadian provinces and cities are always prone to extremes though so temperatures can drop far lower than that, while in the summer it can get very hot. Springtime usually kicks off around May because there can still be snowfall in April.
Interesting to note, the Province of Saskatchewan is well known for averaging the most sunshine of any Canadian province, and boasts more than 250 golf courses. It has more golf courses per capita than anywhere else in the world!
Spring is also mating season for the red-sided garter snakes in Narcisse, about a one hour drive north of Winnipeg, in the province of Manitoba. There can be as many as 35,000 snakes in one of the pits performing an entangled mating ritual - it is quite a sight to behold. Many people head to the Narcisse Snake Dens for spring snake viewing season to witness the largest concentration of these snakes in the world.
If we take Eastern Canada as being from Ontario right the way to the Atlantic coast we again have some very big differences in climate. In Southern Ontario, along the shores of Lake Ontario it is relatively mild (Canadian-speaking!) in the winter though, being on the lake does have an effect with lake-effect snow, dense fog and very chilly wind chills. Springtime is early May for Toronto.
Did you know? Each May Ottawa holds the world’s largest tulip festival, with over one million tulips splashing colour throughout the city attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors over ten days of celebrations. It’s a great time to visit Canada’s capital city.
And on the subject of festivals, Ontario maple syrup festivals and sugar bush tours take place March through May. Bursting with opportunities to discover traditions and learn how maple syrup is made. It’s a time to embrace the wonderful flavours of tasty maple products plus have a great time at all the family activities and events.
Further east in the Maritimes it’s a different climate again because of the ocean influence. It keeps winters a little warmer and summers a little cooler but you can still expect springtime to start around early May. Ever wanted to go iceberg watching? The best time to view icebergs passing by Newfoundland is in the spring and early summer as they drift south from the Arctic.
In some of the northern reaches of Canada spring as we know it doesn’t even exist! Head really far north and snow is not uncommon during any month of the year, while a little farther south there really isn’t much of a transition into spring, instead moving from winter directly to summer.
In Iqaluit, April days are already 16 hours long and often sunny with the daily maximum of -10 degrees. After a long Arctic winter the residents celebrate the arrival of spring with Toonik Tyme, a week-long cultural festival in April where the days are filled with fun, games, music, competition and feasts.
Sea unicorns, or Narwhals surface during spring migration outside Pond Inlet, Nunavut. They calf in late spring during the northbound migration. It is an amazing experience to see these incredible mammals.
So there you have it: springtime in Canada, in a nutshell! Basically you’re looking at anything from April to June, depending on where you’re visiting, or no spring at all if you’re heading up north!
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