Marble Pedestal: Winter in Edmonton

Edmontonians should embrace winter with open arms.

This past winter, many Edmontonians breathed a sigh of relief as the average winter temperature hovered at a sweltering -9 degrees Celsius. There’s no denying that it’s always a relief to know that you won’t freeze while waiting for the bus. Still, 2023’s brown Christmas should not be on anyone’s wish list in the years to come. 

When we, as Edmontonians, lose our winter, we lose a part of ourselves. Having to walk outside between classes in -48 degree Celsius windchill might hurt physically, emotionally, and psychologically. But, it invokes a sense of pride when we see Vancouver shut down after one snowfall. While our grandparents may have walked uphill both ways to school, we did it in blistering winds over icy roads.

Whether or not you think a sense of self-righteousness is worth a yearly deep freeze, there is no denying that winter makes Edmonton what it is. Somehow, this city has three urban ski hills without being close to any mountains. We have roads named after hockey players, and we can skate on indoor rinks, flooded outdoor rinks, and frozen-over lakes. There’s even a skating rink in West Edmonton Mall for those of us who want to hit the ice without the windchill!

Besides snow sports, Edmonton is home to unique winter-themed festivities. Candy Cane Lane began with a group of neighbours deciding to up their decoration game. Now it’s a popular sight-seeing area throughout the holiday season — even viewable from a horse and carriage. Volunteers share the spirit of beauty and joy when they light up their street for the rest of us to enjoy. It simply wouldn’t be the same without winter. 

Ultimately, winter brings Edmontonians together and shows the strength in our communities. When your neighbour lends you their snowblower or helps jump-start your frozen car, there’s good to be found even in the hardships of winter. And when we show up late for class after a fender bender — courtesy of black ice — we prove that Edmontonians can withstand anything winter throws our way.

Winter isn’t all good — but it isn’t all bad either. It has undoubtedly played a key role in shaping the fabric of Edmonton’s identity. It doesn’t matter if you were born here or made Edmonton your home later in life. Severe winters are part of our collective consciousness. They remind us every year that we’re in this together. Winter is an opportunity to reflect and be grateful for what we have. Even winter haters and lovers set aside their differences to acknowledge that it takes a village to make it to spring. 

Hopefully we won’t be seeing any more snow this spring, but let’s not hope it doesn’t come back at all!

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