Weather in Canada
The vast country of Canada spans a continent – covering about 10 million square kilometres (3m 861 021 square miles), stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coasts of north America, from its southern border with the USA to the North Pole. Therefore it is obvious that the weather of this huge nation varies dramatically and the weather to be expected differs according to location and time of year. The climate of Canada, the world’s second largest country, is further complicated by the influence of its high mountains and significant waterways.
Being situated in the northern hemisphere (between 42° and 83°N) it is clear that Canada experiences mid-winter during December, and mid-summer in July. By mid-winter most of Canada is a winter wonderland, covered in snow – except perhaps on the west (Pacific) coast.
Spring arrives in Canada in stages according to latitude. By April the weather is generally warmer across the country. Summer in Canada is felt most keenly in the central and mid-western provinces, between June and August, when the weather is warm and balmy, ideal for enjoying the great outdoors.
Autumn (Fall) during September/October brings sunny days and cool evenings to most of the country, along with colourful foliage and a host of harvest festivals.
Most of Canada’s major cities (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver,Ottowa and Calgary) are in the south, where visitors can expect in general mild springs, hot summers, crisp autumns and snowy winters.
When is the best time to go to Canada?
Depending on your holiday requirements, you can visit Canada at any time of year. Peak holiday season is in the summer months (July/August) when Canadians move outdoors, especially in the south. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are less crowded, but winters are to be avoided because most attractions are closed and days are cold and dark. Skiing options are good during the winter, however, especially around Vancouver and Toronto.
What to pack for a holiday in Canada?
It really depends on what's on the itinerary, but it's generally a good idea to pack for all eventualities and bringing items that are useful in both summer and winter will save some space– jeans are a good example.
Winter definitely calls for layers and layers; take a thick, warm waterproof coat, thermals, gloves, scarves, hats and boots (soft rubber soles) with good grips for the icy pavements and roads. Take along dark colours and items that dry quickly, as a raincoat and umbrella will help, but won't stop all the water and snow.
Summer is pleasant, but while the locals might wear T-shirts and shorts, most people will need an extra layer or two because it gets cool in the evenings nonetheless. Take something smart for a special night out, comfortable walking shoes and remember that sunglasses, sunhats and sunscreen go a long way; both in summer and snow.
Weather in Canada in January
Average temperature in Canada in January: -11.8°C, 10.7°F
Sea temperature in Canada (Vancouver) in January: 8°C, 46°F
Average precipitation in Canada in January: 75.5mm, 2.9in
Note: Stay very chilled in Canada in January, literally, because no matter where you go in this vast country this month it is going to be extremely cold. The advantage is that the Canadian ski-season is at its peak, with many heart-warming deals to be had at resorts like Whistler/Black Mountain in Vancouver and Banff/Lake Louise in Alberta.
Weather in Canada in February
Average temperature in Canada in February: -9.9C, 14°F
Sea temperature in Canada in February: 8°C, 46°F
Average precipitation in Canada in February: 60mm, 2.3in
Note: Pack your thermal underwear and head for cold Canada in February to take advantage of special deals, giving you access to the many winter activities (including great ski-ing and snowboarding) and winter festivals across the country.
Weather in Canada in March
Average temperature in Canada in March: -4.6C, 23.7°F
Sea temperature in Canada in March: 8°C, 46°F
Average precipitation in Canada in March: 62.2mm, 2.4in
Note: There could be some warm spells in Montreal in March, and in Vancouver you may see some early spring blossoms. The ski resorts stay open for big business during March.
Weather in Canada in April
Average temperature in Canada in April: 2.5C, 36.5°F
Sea temperature in Canada in April: 10°C, 50°F
Average precipitation in Canada in April: 58.5mm, 2.3in
Note: Spring has sprung in the lower elevations of Canada during April, but the ski resorts are still pumping at higher altitudes. The bitter chill of winter is disappearing, but the weather in Canada in April can be unpredictable.
Weather in Canada in May
Average temperature in Canada in May: 8.9C, 48°F
Sea temperature in Canada in May: 12°C, 54°F
Average precipitation in Canada in May: 67.3mm, 2.6in
Note: The snow has thawed at lower altitudes, and spring flowers are in bloom all over Canada in May. Golfers are getting into the swing in the western provinces, and it is overall a lovely month to visit Canada, before the summer crowds arrive. Great walking weather (with, it has to be said, some threat of a rainy day) and the ski resorts in the mountains still providing good snow cover.
Weather in Canada in June
Average temperature in Canada in June: 13.8C, 56.8°F
Sea temperature in Canada in June: 13°C, 55°F
Average precipitation in Canada in June: 77.7mm, 3in
Note: The weather warms up in Canada in June as summer approaches, making this the traditional month for camping and hiking expeditions. Take precautions to avoid the curse of biting flies in central Canada’s forests.
Weather in Canada in July
Average temperature in Canada in July: 16.7C, 62°F
Sea temperature in Canada in July: 14°C, 57°F
Average precipitation in Canada in July: 76.4mm, 3in
Note: The month of July in Canada kicks off with country-wide Canada Day celebrations, taking advantage of the mild, sunny, dry weather which sends Canadians outdoors in their droves. Festive events are the order of the day across most of the country during July, when days are long and warm.
Weather in Canada in August
Average temperature in Canada in August: 15.8C, 60°F
Sea temperature in Canada in August: 14°C, 57°F
Average precipitation in Canada in August: 74.2mm, 2.9in
Note: Warm, long days packed with summer festivals are the norm in Canada in the height of summer. This is an ideal time to enjoy the lakes and a camping holiday, or explore the northern areas of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavit. Temperatures in some areas of Canada in this, the height of summer, can hit as high as the 30s C (86F) and cities like Toronto can be extremely humid.
Weather in Canada in September
Average temperature in Canada in September: 11C, 52°F
Sea temperature in Canada in September: 13°C, 55°F
Average precipitation in Canada in September: 75mm, 2.9in
Note: The leaves begin to turn to orange in September in Canada as Fall arrives, providing beautiful countryside vistas. The weather remains comfortably mild enough to enjoy the outdoors. The country is littered with harvest and cultural festivals during this time, so it is possible to taste the best of Canada’s bounty.
Weather in Canada in October
Average temperature in Canada in October: 5C, 41°F
Sea temperature in Canada in October: 11°C, 52°F
Average precipitation in Canada in October: 78.6mm, 3in
Note: Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada during the second Monday in October, as the temperatures drop and Canadians take advantage of the last cool days to get outdoors before the harsh winter sets in.
Weather in Canada in November
Average temperature in Canada in November: -2.3C, 27.8°F
Sea temperature in Canada in November: 9°C, 48°F
Average precipitation in Canada in November: 84.4mm, 3.3in
Note: If you are prepared to wrap up warmly, November in Canada can be delightful ahead of the festive season, particularly in the major cities which put on spectacular Santa Claus Parades. It may be bitterly cold, but Canada has a great deal to offer travellers in November.
Weather in Canada in December
Average temperature in Canada in December: -8.9C, 16°F
Sea temperature in Canada in December: 8°C, 46°F
Average precipitation in Canada in December: 81.6mm, 3.2in
Note: It may be bitterly cold, but spirits in Canada are warmed by the many Christmas Light Shows across the country in December, and ski season gets underway. Rain, sleet and snow are all likely accompaniments to a festive season in Canada, and a white Christmas is almost guaranteed with the addition of the wind chill factor.