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Your McMurray Six On / Six Off

(1 Vote)

Winter in Wood Buffalo

1. Off: Sub-zero temperatures, blizzards and frozen noses: winter in northern Alberta sounds miserable.

On: In a region where winter is inevitable, the only thing to do is to embrace the weather instead of dreading it. The beauty of Wood Buffalo is present all year round, but perhaps even more so during those cold winter months when everything gleams with a fresh dusting of white snow.

2. Off: Why would anyone even venture outdoors in that climate? Don’t y’all just hibernate for six months?

On: Bears might hibernate, but the human inhabitants of the region come alive in the winter months to enjoy the kind of sports and activities you can only participate in during the winter.

3. Off: What sports and activities would anyone want to do in that kind of weather?

On: Well, snowmobiling is astonishingly popular, especially given the wide-open spaces surrounding our urban areas and thanks to local groups like the Sno Drifters. And then there’s cross country skiing on the Birchwood trails, skiing and snowboarding at Vista Ridge, skating on all the outdoor ice surfaces, snowshoeing in the woods…the list is endless!

4. Off: Those all sound pretty standard. Is there anything really unusual you can do in the winter in YMM?

On: How about dog sledding? Or winter camping? Or ice fishing? The only limits are the ones you place on yourself, because if it involves winter, snow and recreation, someone here is doing it.

5. Off: I don’t like cold weather. I’m not going outside.

On: Well, you will miss out on some of the fun, but there are lots of indoor activities during the winter, too. How about a swim at the Syncrude Aquatic Centre at MacDonald Island Park? A spin around the running track at the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre? Or maybe this is the season you choose to volunteer for one of our many social profit agencies, like the Wood Buffalo Food Bank. You can stay indoors all winter if you want to – and still be busy!

6. Off: I think I’ll pass. Winter in the north isn’t for me.

On: Fair enough – but you should know that those cold, crisp winter nights, when the snowflakes fall gently on your nose and eyelashes, are some of the most magical you will ever find anywhere in this world, especially when the northern lights begin to dance above you. Winter in the north is an immersive experience – and besides bragging rights belong to those who not only survive it, but thrive in it!


A freelance writer, blogger and professional communicator who is passionate about her child, her work, her pets, her community and the power of words, Theresa Wells believes perfection in life is achieved when she is surrounded by amazing people, fantastic stories, cold gin and really hot shoes.