I'm starting on my first trip overseas shortly, to Canada (Toronto), staying for about 4 weeks.
Have a few questions, apologies if they sound a bit naieve, but i'm completely new to travelling!
1. I'll be doing a lot of snow-related activites, but I have minimal experience with snow (being from a country that has almost none): what will I need to buy beforehand, and take with me if i'm spending a lot of time in the snow?
2. Is snow equipment (clothes and shoes and whatnot) very expensive in Canada? I plan on leaving around mid Oct, which is the end of our winter here, so I'm tossing up if it's worth buying stuff here (end of season sales), or waiting till I get there...
3. How cold does it actually get there on an average day in October/November? What sort of every day clothes will I need to survive the weather? Can I wear jeans when i'm not treking around in the snow? Should I wear boots all the time, or are sneakers good enough?
4. I've read about a hundred threads re backpacks v suitcases, but I still don't know what's right for me. I might do a little travelling, but not planning on doing a huge amount of hiking or camping. Considering all the heavy jackets and snow gear I might need, is a suitcase better?
5. I want to stay in a hostel, or somewhere relatively cheap, but i've never been in one before. If i'm sharing a room with other people, do I get some kind of lock or security for my bag/suitcase? Or is it just left out in the open? I'm a little worried about my stuff being stolen while i'm out one day!
Thanks again, hope my questions don't sound too ridiculous.
I'm from Thunder Bay, where it's alot colder and snowier than Toronto, but I will try to help out a bit.
1. October and November really aren't the months where you will get a huge snow fall, especially in a big city in the south like Toronto. Toronto is an "urban heat island " like alot of big cities, which means that the city is alot warmer than it's surroundings.There is snow on the ground in the city from December to February. It can be up to 14 degrees celcius in October. You do not need to be going outside everyday in a snowsuit, but you should think to dress warmly. Think thick sweaters, mittens, and warm socks. I've gone through whole winters in Northern ontario wearing only sneakers, but it is a good idea to have a pair of snow boots, not usually too expensive, they are often in rubber with a lining. You will not have nor want to wear them all the time. Yes you can wear jeans when you are not trekking around in the snow. In the city, the streets and the sidewalks are all snowplowed. In alot of hostels, if you are sharing rooms with others, there are cubicles that you can put your stuff in and lock it, often in the rooms. I'd bring my own lock if I were you. I'd being a suitcase and a backpack. You never know when you need something smaller and easier to carry.Snow equipment is not ridiculously expensive in Canada, as long as you aren't looking for brand names like the north face, la fuma, etc. Personally, I would wait till I got there to buy my stuff, you can talk to the "locals" and see what the styles are like and what you will need. Good luck, have fun.
Toronto is not Canada's snow sports capital, it is too far south! Oct/Nov is fall => you will not encounter snow anywhere in Ontario.
You would have to go to the Cdn Rockies in British Columbia to have any chance of "snow sports" at that time of year. Try google for info on Whistler and Blackcomb, major "International Ski Resorts" = i.e., you need a big budget!
If going to the Canadian Rockies is too much of a trek, come to Quebec, the land of snow...
You can travel to Montreal which is within an easy distance of two premier regions for snow sports: the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships. Both are chockablock with top-notch ski hills and recreational parks. Also, Montreal itself has the mountain and several parks which are excellent for xcountry skiing and snowshoeing.
Lastly, the other posters are right - not much snow in Oct-Nov. The real serious snow doesn't start dumping down until Jan-Feb.
I'd say wait and buy your gear when you arrive, as you'll be able to find something adapted to the activities you want to do. A good sports store will be able to give you plenty of advice on what you should get. Don't bother buying expensive gear if you're only here for 4 weeks. You can probably save money by just renting it when you get to the hill.
You'll really only need one decent snowsuit, gloves, a hat, a scarf, and good boots. Maybe thermals, if you're out a lot. If you've never walked around in snow bwfore, it's not always the innocent white fluffy stuff that Bing Crosby sings about. It gets slushy - especially in big cities - and wearing sneakers is a sure way to get your feet sodden in no time and ruin your shoes. Mind, a lot of people still do it anyway!
October and November are the end of fall here, as people have mentioned. I did a quick check, and Mont Tremblant (about 2 hours north of Montreal) opened its season last year on December 9th. You won't get much snow until December - and even then. A lot of hills make artificial snow if it doesn't snow enough - but that's only for downhill skiing, and only in some places. Cross-country skiing needs a good dumping first.
You should reconsider your trip... What is more important, Toronto or Winter?
If winter is more important, Montreal and Quebec City in January or February will give you a much better feel for the legendary Canadian winter than Toronto ever could. Both of these cities are in the Province of Quebec which means that, as an added bonus, you will hear french spoken.
Each of these cities are great in there own right and are good bases for winter activities like Alpine and X-Country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and skating. If you are properly dressed, all of these activities are great fun and you will have a bunch of great stories to tell your friends back home.
Thanks for all the replies. I had no idea about where snow actually falls in Canada (coming from a country that hardly has any, I just assumed most of the country was blanketed in the stuff, hehe).
I'll sure to bring a lock too, in the hostels. Thanks everyone!
I'm sure your not the only one who thinks we have snow year 'round. There's always the Arctic
Ontario can get quite a bit of snow, just not that early, and the winters in Toronto are way to warm, with not near enough snow.
I normally wear a tshirt/sweater and pants in october/november.