Canadians love winter with a passion. In fact, many would say it’s the best time of year to play outside. From ice hockey in the crisp, fresh air, to stylish dining Nordic-style on a frozen river, to an epic Ice Roads odyssey in the Arctic on Canada’s brand new all-season highway, when the temperature drops, it’s time to hit the ice.
Ice fishing—and spending a relaxed day in a heated hut—is a Canadian tradition. Some of the best spots for hooking the big one are Lake Memphremagog in Quebec’s quaint Eastern Townships, Ontario’s Bay of Quinte (the world’s “walleye capital”), renowned Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories’ Great Slave Lake.
Canadians think ice hockey was meant to be played outside. You will too. Watch the sport in all its glory at the World Pond Hockey Championships every February in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. If the timing or location isn’t right, you can see (or join) a pick-up game on most frozen lakes nearly anywhere around the country.
Majestic doesn’t cover it when you’re talking the Arctic in winter: icebergs shimmering under the Northern Lights, stealthy white fox, ptarmigan and single-tusked narwhal and white as far as the eye can see. Take a photo safari with an expert to snap Instagram-worthy images of polar bears, the planet’s largest predator, in the wild. Arctic Kingdom and Black Feather both offer these bucket list adventures.
Focus your lens on grizzlies, moose and herds of caribou on a winter Yukon road trip. On Nature Tours’ Arctic Circle tour, you follow the legendary Dempster Highway, cross the Arctic Circle and, under the Aurora Oval, photograph the dancing aurora borealis in the night sky.
Snowmobiling is the go-to outdoor activity in PEI when the ground turns white. Take a guided snowmobile tour around Tranquility Cove, then take in an Islanders hockey game in quaint Charlottetown. Round it off with some fatbiking through the powder-dusted woods, and a snowcrab dinner with local wine.
When it gets cold, Manitobans bundle up and head out to enjoy it. The hottest ticket is RAW:almond, locavore haute dining in a designer hut set on the frozen Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg. While you’re there, peruse award-winning warming huts from an annual international design competition.
Whistler is giving Switzerland a run for their money with the unveiling of an Architectural Digest-worthy hut-to-hut network. Ski or hike the 40-kilometre traverse Alps-style past 13 glaciers and 14 peaks, overnighting in modern chalet-style heated huts that can accommodate 40 people, complete with water, composting toilets, bunks and top-of-the-world views.