Canada's New Year's Day tradition of polar bear swims that sees swimmers willingly plunge into ice-cold bodies of water across the nation ran into some headwinds this year.

Canada's New Year's Day tradition of polar bear swims that sees swimmers willingly plunge into ice-cold bodies of water across the nation ran into some headwinds this year.
Photo Credit: CP Photo / Darryl Dyck

Polar Bear Club swimmers take their plunge…or not


How frigid is it in Canada right now, (excepting British Columbia’s lower mainland and parts of the Atlantic provinces)?

So frigid that members of the Courage Polar Bear Club in Oakville, Ontario cancelled their annual Jan. 1 bout of insanity–their leap into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario–for the first time in 33 years.

The neighbouring Toronto Polar Bear Club cancelled their plunge for the first time in 13 years.

A wind chill factor of -18 C will force a lot of cancellations.

But not, apparently, Down East.

For the first time in 13 years, members of the Toronto Polar Bear Club folks did NOT take their New Year's Day plunge into Lake Ontario.
For the first time in 13 years, members of the Toronto Polar Bear Club folks did NOT take their New Year’s Day plunge into Lake Ontario. © CBC/Neil Herland

Polar Bear Clubbers in Halifax, ignoring a minus-19 wind chill, took their scheduled leap.

The Halifax dip was delayed a few minutes while a boat chipped away at a sheet of ice covering the point of entry.

Swimmers in Victoria and Vancouver, who were greeted by sunshine and a temperature of  4 C, went through with their plunge.

All those decisions–to plunge or not to plunge– were taken beneath the spelI of the Arctic air mass that has blanketed most of Canada for the better (worse?) part of a week.

But the end may be in sight–for provinces not named Ontario and Quebec, though the temperature could rise a little by mid-week before climbing again on the weekend.

Elsewhere, Alberta will see its temperatures hover around 0 C and remain that way until at least Saturday while Saskatchewan will have similar weather, except it’s going to be seven or eight degrees colder.

Manitoba, as it’s nature, faces wind chills in the -20s C for the next week before the mercury climbs to -9 C on Saturday.

Atlantic Canada will get some relief with a high of 2 C forecast in Halifax on Wednesday, 0 C in Charlottetown and -3 in Fredericton on Thursday and -1 C in St. John’s on Tuesday.

With files from CP, CBC, Toronto Star, Global News

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