The conference on the season many Canadians dread the most

It was a story combining a bone-chilling cold, seasonal gripes and Old Man Winter.

Delegates from 11 countries and 46 cities took part in Edmonton-hosted winter conference in 1986

Understanding winter

38 years ago
Duration 2:14
In 1986, The National reports on a conference focusing on life in a winter city.

It was a story combining a bone-chilling cold, seasonal gripes and Old Man Winter.

That's probably why an Edmonton-hosted conference on life in winter cities likely caught The National's eye in February 1986.

"Six hundred million people live in so-called 'winter cities,'" the CBC's Paul Workman reported on The National on Feb. 18, 1986, at a time when the local temperature had plunged to minus double digits.

Putting Edmonton on a list that included Sapporo, Japan and the Finnish capital of Helsinki, Workman said each was located above the 45th parallel.

One other similarity among those same cities? "Four to six months of winter," Workman said.

'A fact of life' we 'can't escape'

The conference on life in winter cities was hosted, perhaps appropriately, in Edmonton. (The National/CBC Archives)

The conference, which the Toronto Star reported was organized by the Livable Winter Cities Association, brought together delegates from 46 cities and 11 countries. All were from places where people had to deal with winter, whether they liked it or not.

Just like in Canada, where, from what Workman pointed to, we had made our adjustments to live with what winter doled out to us.

"Winter is a fact of life that people simply can't escape cheaply, so we adapt with technology," said Workman.

"Canadian cities have given us underground shopping centres, underground transit systems. It's cold weather planners' way of making winter a little easier."

An annual dread?

The National's Paul Workman said a study prepared for the Edmonton-hosted conference on winter cities indicated that Canadians tended to start worrying about winter a month and a half before the season started. (The National/CBC Archives)

But for all the steps taken to alleviate winter problems, Canadians still had their issues with the season — even before the cold months got started.

"According to one study prepared for this conference, Canadians start worrying about winter a month and a half before it begins," said Workman.

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