How should I dress for winter in Ontario?

If this is your first winter in Ontario, you need to be prepared. It is important that you and your children dress warmly.

Temperatures are very different across Canada. For example, the winters in some parts of British Columbia (BC) are warmer than winters in Ontario. The weather in Ontario can be extreme. Blowing wind can make temperatures feel much colder. In winter, weather reports talk about wind chill. For example, the temperature might be -5°C with a wind chill that makes it feel like -10°C.

Winter Clothes

Coat

The most important piece of winter clothing you will need is a warm winter coat.

Your coat should be thick enough to keep you warm on bitterly cold winter days, and heavy enough to keep cold wind off your body. Many winter coats are also waterproof or water-resistant. Keeping yourself dry is one of the best ways to stay warm.

Look at what your friends and family in Canada wear during the winter, or what others in the community are wearing. Many people chose thick winter parkas, or waterproof ski-jackets. Others, especially when dressed formally, choose long and heavy wool coats. A good quality winter coat for an adult might cost anywhere from C$100 - $500 - and for a child, from C$50 - $100. Whichever coat you choose to fit your style and budget, make sure it will be warm enough to keep you comfortable and safe. When shopping for a coat, talk to the salesperson at the store to find out how warm a jacket really is.

If your coat does not cover your neck, you will need a scarf to keep the wind away from your exposed skin.

Hat

In cold weather, we lose most of our body heat through our heads. Wearing a warm hat helps prevent this heat loss. Warm winter hats are made from wool, fleece or another synthetic material, and cover your head and ears. You will often hear people call a winter hat a "toque" (sounds like "tuke"). "Toque" is a distinctly Canadian word. So many people wear toques in the winter that they are often seen as an unofficial symbol of Canada.

You can also wear a headband or earmuffs to cover your ears. You should make sure to cover your ears, especially when it is windy, because you are most likely to get frostbite on your ears.

Gloves or Mittens

Your hands and fingers can get cold very easily. Mittens or gloves can help keep your hands warm. Mittens are usually warmer than gloves, but make it difficult to use your fingers and hands. When playing outside, children often wear mittens because of their warmth and insulation.

Gloves are usually easier to wear, and you can find a variety of styles to suit any taste or budget.

Boots

Boots keep your feet warm and dry. Low-cut boots cover your ankles. High-cut boots can cover up to your knees. Some boots are water-resistant or waterproof. Good winter boots will keep moisture away from your feet, and be well insulated to keep your feet warm. Good quality boots for an adult might cost anywhere from C$75 - $200 - for children, C$30 - $60.

Style and Warmth

On the coldest days of the winter, most people forget about fashion and choose warmth over style. You should not feel silly while bundled up in a warm winter coat, hat, gloves and boots.

If you are well prepared, winter can be fun. The snow and ice make Ontario beautiful, and you will find a variety of winter sports to enjoy. Go outside and explore the winter!

Useful Resource

Dressing for Winter - Video - This short video has ideas about how to dress your child for winter weather.

For More Information

  • Cold Facts - This fact sheet can help you and your children for outdoor physical activity in colder weather. From the Canada Safety Council.
  • The Chilling Facts About Wind Chill - Information about wind chill and how to stay safe in cold weather. From Environment Canada.
Last updated: December 28, 2015 4000753