Outdoor thermometre

The most extreme climates in Canada

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Oh, Canada—it’s the end of winter, and we’ve suffered through snowstorms, slush, sleet, freezing rain, and record-breaking cold.

But no matter how bad your experience has been, chances are it hasn’t been quite the same as the places on our list of the most extreme climates in Canada. (And if you do live in one of these spots, well, you have our respect.) Hint to the rest of the country—don’t move to B.C. if you don’t like being too hot, dry, wet, or up to your eyeballs in snow.

The driest and hottest

Desert may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of British Columbia, but the driest place in Canada outside the high Arctic is in British Columbia, the provincial home of Vancouver’s seemingly endless drizzles. The Okanagan Valley in the sunny interior of Southern British Columbia is actually the northern tip of the Sonoran desert, which runs through the US all the way down to Mexico. Osoyoos, at the southern tip of the Okanagan, is officially the driest, hottest place in the country. And get this: winter is only two months long there. Add a thriving wine industry to that lovely fact, and all we can think is, “When’s the next flight?”

Hottest, take two

Osoyoos may have the highest average temperatures, but for sheer scorching single-day heat records, you’ll have to go a little further east. Midale and Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, both posted temperatures of 45 degrees on July 5, 1937—the highest temperature officially recorded in Canada, ever. So far, at least.

The wettest

We go back to the West Coast for the wettest place in the country, north to Haida Gwaii (also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). There, the rain gauge on Moresby Island registers more annual rainfall than any other place in the country at 6,325 mm (more than 20 feet) of rain each year. Remote Mitchell Inlet, on the island, gets an average of 275 days of rain a year, so make sure you have your umbrella.

The sunniest

British Columbia may have high temperatures and dry weather, but Canada’s sunbelt is actually in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Manyberries, located south of Medicine Hat, boasted an average of 2,567 hours of sunlight a year from 1971 to 1990—more than half its daylight period. In 1990, when the weather station in Manyberries was moved, Medicine Hat took over as the sunniest spot in the country, with 330 days of sunshine every year.

The coldest

The spot with the lowest average yearly temperature is, unsurprisingly, in Nunavut. The average daily temperature in Eureka, Nunavut, is a bone chilling -19.7 degrees Celsius, which doesn’t seem all that bad until you remember that the average includes summertime temperatures as well. Eureka consistently comes in with one of the the coldest recorded yearly temperatures in the country, although the coldest-ever recorded temperature (-63 degrees) was recorded in Snag, Yukon in 1947. (Brrrrrr…)

The snowiest

Yup, the West Coast strikes again. According to Environment Canada, B.C. not only has the spot with the highest average yearly snowfall, it occupies the top eight places on the list. Locations outside of the province don’t even come close to B.C.’s highest average, which is found on Mount Fidelity in Glacier National Park, which reports a whopping 1,388 centimetres of snow annually. For highest daily snowfall, Tahtsa, B.C. posted a record 1.45 metres in 1999. Of course, the province also has eight of 10 spots on the list of cities with the lowest annual snowfall, with Gander, Labrador, occupying the top spot.