An atmospheric inversion (where temperatures increase rather than decrease with height) covers the entire Arctic region for much of the winter. As an arctic high pressure intensifies, cold air naturally moves to areas of lower pressure and pushes southward across the middle of the continent. Often a low pressure system moving from the West will draw the cold arctic air into the rear of a developing storm, causing strong winds, blowing snow and rapidly falling temperatures. These cold fronts curve across the Prairies and cause most of the winter WEATHER in central and Eastern Canada. Only Vancouver Island and the southwest coast of British Columbia have average winter temperatures above the freezing mark.
Coldest Average Annual Temperature
Myths and Legends
Another cold Canadian weather myth purports that White River, Ont, is the coldest place in Canada. White River is not even the coldest place in Ontario, let alone Canada. That notoriety belongs to Iroquois Falls which, at -58.3° C (23 January 1935) has the lowest temperature reported in Eastern Canada. White River's record low temperature looks almost mild by comparison at -51.7° C, recorded on 23 January 1935 - the eighth coldest reading in Ontario.
Its reputation for coldest area is probably based on the fact that for many years White River was "the coldest in the nation today" of the handful of stations reporting daily temperature extremes in newspapers and on radio. Temperatures from the 2500 volunteer observing stations, however, were not available for daily broadcast because the observers mailed their records of extremes to Environment Canada only once a month.
Cold Weather Superlatives
-61.1 11 January 1911, Fort Vermilion
-58.9 31 January 1947, Smith River
-52.8 9 January 1899, Norway House
-47.2 1 February 1955, Sisson Dam
Newfoundland and Labrador
-51.1 17 February 1973, Esker 2
-61.7 31 December 1910, Fort Good Hope
-41.1 31 January 1920, Upper Stewiacke
-57.8 13 February 1973, Shepherd Bay
-58.3 23 January 1935, Iroquois Falls
Prince Edward Island
-37.2 26 January 1884, Kilmahumaig
-54.4 5 February 1923, Doucet
-56.7 1 February 1893, Prince Albert
-62.8 3 February 1947, Snag
Author DAVID PHILLIPS
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Discover Canada's five snowiest cities, the top cold spots, and other weather winners at this Environment Canada website. Check the links on the left side of the page for much more weather trivia.
Weather and Meteorology
Find weather and climate data, current weather observations, forecasts, warnings and advisories, as well as information on severe weather. From the Environment Canada website.