Snow-Covered Canadian Prairie Queers: A Survival Guide

It snowed in Edmonton last week, and like the first time it snows every year, the entire city fell into a state of shock. The buses were late and we stared out of windows aghast, trying to come to terms with the scary fact that yes, we are in a place where it snows in October; and yes, winter will in fact come again this year, whether you’re prepared for it or not. With friends, classmates, and co-workers, you exchange knowing glances. Full sentences aren’t necessary:

“This morning I woke up and–”

You nod silently, look outside to make sure it isn’t all just a collective hallucination.

“I can’t believe it.”

You can’t believe it? Okay, c’mon. This is Edmonton, or Regina, or Winnipeg, where October snow is a recurring phenomenon; but while Winter Wonderland materializes at your doorstep, the rest of North America waxes poetic about the beauty of fall. As magazines tout funny Halloween costume ideas, you wonder which toque and parka pairing will look best with your Tegan and Sarah lumberjack costume as you walk for five minutes from your car to the queer Halloween dance party. It’s easy to be surprised by the first snowfall when the rest of the world doesn’t acknowledge you exist. There’s not much media representation of the freezing lesbians in the snowy Northern prairies’ demographic. I know, I know — stomping through the snow ruins your swagger, but keep your head above the snow-bank, you special snowflake. In the spirit of this post-Canadian Thanksgiving season, here are seven things to be grateful for in your snowy Lesbian (or other lady-loving identified) life:

1. Conversation Starters

From now until the last blizzard blows through sometime in late April, talking to your fellow warm-blooded queermos is easy. You only really need two opening lines: “Sure is cold, eh” and “Sure feels good to finally get inside where it’s nice and warm.” I find it’s easy to bond with someone when your bodies are going through similar (temperature) experiences.

2. Dating Odds

You have a high chance of successfully asking someone out on a Hot Beverage Date.

from “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles Ft. Ingrid Michaelson


3. Warmth

For 10 months of the year, everyone wants to cuddle with you because you’re warm. You don’t really need to be that attractive or funny or smart. The sexiest thing about you is your body heat.

Edmonton in the middle of the winter via
When it looks like this outside, your body heat is much desired.


4. Romance

Evenings can get romantic a whole lot earlier. Just drive outside the city and schedule a star-gazing date for 4 p.m. Or cuddle under the Northern Lights.

Northern Lights over Edmonton skyline, October 9th, 2012.
Geoffrey McGill via Breakfast Television Edmonton.


5. Cold Weather Stripping

Let the sexual tension build as I remove my toque, scarf, neck-warmer, balaclava, mittens, boots, first pair of socks, second pair of socks, jeans, long underwear, coat, sweater, t-shirt, and under-shirt. Oohlaalaa. You can’t take it anymore, can you? Well, good cause neither can I. I’m freezing. I need to jump into bed with you ASAP ’cause, you know, body heat.

6. Winter Activities

Snowball fights! Tobogganing! Skating! Staying inside and reading Autostraddle! Wait until March and you can go to the Cabane a Sucre and lick a stick of warm maple syrup you scraped off ice! The fun never ends!

Children with sleds near Beynon, Alberta (early 1900s). via
You don’t have to stop playing in the snow just cause you’re a grown-ass lady!


7. Hot Tub Parties

Throughout the long winter months, you’ll turn on your radio only to hear song after song about how great places like California are. These songs all sound the same: “la-la-la-girls-girls-girls-la-la-la-beaches-beaches-la-la-la-pools-pools-la-la-la-sun-sun.” Are you there California? It’s me, Alberta. Quit your bragging. What you don’t realize is that the bikini time fun you sing of is missing a crucial ingredient: snow. In case you think the increasing lack of sunlight is having a negative effect on my brain function, let me explain. There’s no better place to be than at a hot tub party in the middle of a snowy backyard in sub-freezing temperatures. A hot tub party in the snow feels as good as warm syrup on cold ice tastes — delicious.

Even though other people in other places get to lie on the beach or frolic through the leaves in only jeans and grandpa sweaters, it’s important that you keep your chin up, little icicle. I don’t want to see you dripping any tears. Don’t just stand there frozen in snow-shock. Go find yourself a girl to cuddle and some maple syrup to lick off a stick (you don’t have to wait till March). You’ll feel much better, I promise.

via “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles Ft. Ingrid Michaelson

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Malaika likes books, drinking tea, long conversations, dinner parties, making funny faces, bike rides, and dogs. Originally from Edmonton, she now lives in Montreal where she edits, runs, and writes about the Alberta Tar Sands for The Media Co-op. You can follow her on twitter @Malaika_Aleba.

Malaika has written 84 articles for us.


  1. Ah, this is perfect. (Also, I don’t think the prairies get much media representation, never mind prairie lesbians but that’s another conversation for another time)

  2. Edmonton represent! I do love this place, even though the weather is the worst (what is up with this wind right now? Are we in Lethbridge?)

  3. It just snowed here yesterday. Ugh, I’m so depressed about it. There’s still so much work to do and I’m so unprepared for it. Anyway, this was great and I can relate to a lot of it. In my case though, I live in a tiny town of 600 people with nary another queer in sight. My solution is to get the hell out of here, but so far it’s not working too well.

  4. Hahah hot tub parties in freezing temperatures… ah! The night sky full of stars. A hot tub full of women. Icicles forming in everyone’s hair…. your then girlfriend by your side…ah brings back memories.

    I loved this post! Thank you!

  5. now see i grew up about 100 km north of the fuckin polar circle and i’ve NEVER heard of these hot tub parties, this is completely unfair

    also the maple syrup sticks, we never had those either, i’m feeling soo sorry for myself right now

  6. Being from Calgary and living in Southern alberta I can relate to this 100%. Thanks you.
    Ps. Can’t wait for ski season

  7. As an ex-prairie gal living in Toronto, this made me homesick. It’s all so so true. Number five is the best!

  8. Oh my living god, Malaika, this is like my favourite post ever. I like how as Prairie Canadians, we suffer seasonal amnesia. “OMIGOD IT’S LIKE 30oC IN THE SUMMER IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL HERE!!” Forgetting that it gets to -30oC three months later. Awesome.

    Also, this made me fall over laughing loudly:
    “Let the sexual tension build as I remove my toque, scarf, neck-warmer, balaclava, mittens, boots, first pair of socks, second pair of socks, jeans, long underwear, coat, sweater, t-shirt, and under-shirt. Oohlaalaa. You can’t take it anymore, can you? Well, good cause neither can I. I’m freezing. I need to jump into bed with you ASAP ’cause, you know, body heat.”

    It’s so true. There are times when you can’t get it on without wearing a pair of socks, and it has nothing to do with Business. Your blocks of ice are just not going to touch my body if you expect to get some.

  9. As someone who just moved somewhere where it snows in October and is cold and dark for a significant portion of the year, this is very relevant to my interests.

  10. REPRESENT! I’ve only moved away from the prairies a month and a half ago and I kindofsortof miss them, well at least the big open skies and the vast vast amount of lands and the open spaces. But not the snow… I do not miss the snow.

    It is always amazing every year on that first snow. Everyone freaks out like they forgot it snowed? Even I did and then I complained about it for a month while my roommate said “HELLO?! You live in Calgary!”

    The saddest part was being locked up in your house for months at a time, but meeting ladies when it is cold is one of the best times! This lovely girl once took me to one of those Christmas light shows in Airdrie and it was nice and full of hot chocolate.

    • Every time I leave the prairies I miss the big open skies so much. There’s honestly no sky like an Alberta sky.

      And oh man, someone needs to take me on a Christmas light show date.

      • YES!!!! the sky! there is nothing like it. That’s also what I miss the most when I’m living elsewhere! (I could talk about the Alberta sky forever)

        Also. So excited about this post. We had a bit of snow in Calgary last week.

      • I know! I’m still adjusting to the crowded-ness here and all of the people in my bubble and not being able to see the sky. /homesick for Alberta (a little)

      • I’d argue that a Manitoban sky is even more open than an Albertan sky, but whatever, it’s the same deal.

    • When I lived in Alberta adjusting to the big open skies was the hardest thing for me, it felt like I had the opposite of claustrophobia

    • Kelsey, you can look forward to everyone forgetting that it rains a lot in Vancouver. Like, people act surprised when the 8 months of on and off rain starts. And people kept exclaiming how crappy the spring/summer/fall was this year, and we had so much fucking sun. We had the lowest amount of recorded precipitation this September IN RECORDED HISTORY, and people I knew were bitching about like one day of rain. And then, it rained for a week at the beginning of October, and people acted surprised.

      Also, you can go to Van Dusen gardens for a light show with a cute girl on a date with hot chocolate. It rocks!

      • See at least we don’t have that problem in Ireland, cuz it rains all year. Or just all the time without ever stopping. Seems like every summer they claim its the wettest summer on record.

      • haha, my brother has been complaining to my all week, “well here it begins.. now we’ll never see the sun for 8 months!” and I’m just sitting here amazed because it was snowing in Calgary last week and what’s a little bit of rain? I haven’t even pulled out my winter jacket! Vancouverite’s are hilarious, they’re all shivering now and I still have my fan going.

        Thanks for the recommendation, Vancouver has some amazing parks!

  11. And if you’re around an American, you can start a never-ending argument about the merits of toque v beanie.

  12. “but keep your head above the snow-bank, you special snowflake.” Whoa having flashbacks to 10 year-old me staring in awe at 4 ft. high snowbanks. Oh Prairie lezzers, I salute you!

  13. This is super relevant to my freezing queer ass. I just moved from Florida to Colorado and woke up this morning to find i had several inches of snow to scrape off my car before I could leave to work. By several I mean 2 to 3, but to a Florida girl that might as well be feet.

  14. This post makes me feel all warm and cozy. I will think of it when it drops to minus 40 here in Lethbridge, with a bit of wind whipping to boot.

  15. As a Winnipeg gal I’m starting to get a little bit nostalgic, as this year is my last winter before I move to the Middle East. I mean, I am a pure bred Canadian-who am I without Winter?

  16. This is my favourite article of all time. <3

    At the andro/butch workshop at A-camp I was hoping I could get some tips on how to dress well, even in the dead of winter (because I'm prettysure every style blog stems from California where they wear scarves as fashion and not as protection from hypothermia). I learned I have "too many needs".

    But I knew I couldn't be alone! As long as we all look like the Michelin tire man together it's alright, right?

  17. Whenever it gets cold in Ontario I always remind myself that I am lucky when compared to you brave prairie gals :) Getting cozy is the best part of dating in cold weather! Always an excuse to get closer!

  18. This is also applicable to Sweden. Hot beverage dates are basically how my girlfriend and I got to know each other ;) And oh, the possibilities in saunas are endless…

  19. ..Is it weird that when I read this I was reminded more of the Ottawa and Quebec weathers than the prairies? O.o

    And the VanDusen lights fest is actually a great date idea! That now reminds me of ice skating as well…my clumisness should serve for a great excuse for PDA…

  20. A post linking my queerness and my Canadian-ness? This post is all kinds of fantastic!

    Number 5 had me laughing so hard.

  21. Just had to sign up to say hey to all the Canadian and Alberta ladies!!! Hello Ladies!! We had some snow here in Cold Lake last week, thank god its melted, i still have some work to do in the garage before i can park in there this winter.

  22. As a Southern Albertan, I’ve always been rather intimidated by Edmonton, but can certainly understand the context very well. This is brilliant. I’m living in Africa now so I won’t get to go through any of the lesbian winter fun, and now I feel like I’m really missing out.

  23. I love snow but it has not visited Winnipeg yet… I hate that in between stage when you feel like it will snow soon but it never does! Also, loving that all the Canadians are commenting, I feel at home even more so now <3

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