What it's Really Like to Live in A Four-Season Community
I’ve always said I could live somewhere down south or in the Caribbean, where it’s hot every single day. Summer in Northwest Ontario consists of heading out on the lake, swimming at a beach, fishing, shore lunches, camping, watching the northern lights, and smores by the campfire.
The weather here in the summer is fantastic. There’s usually not a heck of a lot of rain and plenty of sunshine. The days are hot, and the evenings cool off just enough to let you be able to sleep comfortably. The lake water is warm.
Living in a place where you are surrounded by lakes means you don’t have to count down the days until your next fishing trip to Canada. It means if you get off work and it is sweltering outside, you just hop in the boat and go out on the lake. Got a hankering for some fresh walleye? Just head out to the lake for a few hours to catch some fresh fish.
Living in Northwest Ontario means you don’t have to drive far to experience nature. Go for a hike on one of the many trails in the communities. Getting some exercise in a beautiful setting has many benefits. There’s no pollution, you’re getting some Vitamin D, and the feeling you get from walking in nature is a natural high that’s hard to beat.
There are many public beaches that are minutes away. The children love spending the day at the beach on a hot summer day. You can also boat to a secluded beach out on the lake if you choose.
As the nights start to cool off and school is about to start (September), I start to get a pit in my stomach knowing that summer is about to end. Did it not just start??
However, as fall approaches I start to remember why I like autumn. The big cozy sweaters come out, the leaves start to change colour, and the mosquitos are gone! I don’t have to worry about constantly putting suntan lotion on the kids.
When the kids have settled into a school routine, I really begin to appreciate the fall months. It’s hard to imagine the beauty that fall brings if you’ve never lived in a climate where the leaves change colour. The forests are alive with red, orange, and yellow leaves. It truly is beautiful.
Fall also brings great fishing in Sunset Country. The cooler water changes the fish’s whereabouts and they are hungry! While lake trout fishing ends September 30 in many areas, the walleye, northern, and bass fishing are great. The crappie fishing is exceptional. October and November bring many muskie anglers to the lakes in Sunset Country. There are some monster muskies caught and released here each fall.
While I myself am not a hunter, many locals and tourists hunt each year and fill their freezers each year with wildlife that’s surely healthier than anything you buy in the grocery store. Many guys get together and spend a week or a few weekends hunting and enjoying each other's company. I know a few “hunting widows” who don’t see their husbands much during this time, lol. Although, more and more I see many ladies also starting to hunt as well or making it a whole family experience.
As the weather gets cooler and the leaves have fallen, I again start to dread winter. Remember, I LOVE summer. However, as the first snow falls, I get excited as to what’s to come.
Once the ground is covered in snow, everything looks so much prettier. There are warmer temperatures in the States to the south of us and in the southern parts of Ontario. However, it’s not warm enough to stay green. So you’re left with a brown, dirty-looking city. It’s too cold to do summer activities but you can’t do winter activities either.
November is kind of an odd month. It can be really cold or it can be nice. If we have any snow, the lakes aren’t frozen solid yet, so there’s no ice fishing or snowmobiling. Unless you're a die-hard muskie fisherman, fishing is over until the ice freezes over.
As December rolls around, we usually are starting to accumulate snow. Everyone is busy getting ready for Christmas and that keeps us occupied. A couple of years we've been close to a green Christmas and let me tell you, it would not be Christmas without the snow.
The real fun starts in January. There’s usually enough ice on the lakes to go ice fishing. Lake Trout fishing season opens up again, sending many fishermen out in droves on January 1. My kids love to play hockey on the outdoor rink, go sliding or downhill skiing. All of this is available within minutes of where we live.
Sure it gets cold. However, it’s a dry cold. And there’s plenty of sunshine. I’ve lived in Toronto in the winter, and even though I’m a wimp with cold temperatures, I prefer our winters here in Northwest Ontario. Sure the temperature was warmer, but it was a damp cold and I felt colder there. I’ve spent a winter in Vancouver and could not stand the rain. Warmer, yes, sunnier, no.
Once the ice on the lakes is thick enough, the snowmobile trails are groomed and snowmobilers flock to the trails. While many of the lodges in Sunset Country close for the winter, there are some that stay open year-round to offer you snowmobiling, ice fishing or a winter getaway.
In February, the days are getting longer and slightly warmer. We’re “over the hump” and you know spring is coming.
March is a beautiful month in Sunset Country. The days are getting longer, and the sun is much warmer. It’s a great time to go ice fishing. While in the colder winter months, many fish in the comfort of an ice shack, come March, everyone is outside fishing through the ice. Sometimes in March, we have plenty of snow left, sometimes it goes quickly.
Walleye fishing closes in mid-April until the third Saturday in May for the walleye spawn. I love the excitement around town as the anglers try to get in more fishing days until they have to *gasp* wait for over a month to have fresh walleye again.
April comes and the remaining snow melts. The days are getting even longer and warmer. People start betting as to when the ice will go out. Check out these articles for when the ice did go out in 2016, 2015, and 2014 Part 1 and 2014 Part 2.
May can be quite pleasant. The lodge owners are busy getting the lodges ready for opening weekend. Locals are counting down the days until “May Long,” which is the long weekend in May, coinciding with the opening of walleye fishing. Cottagers from the city are coming here for the weekend. Shop owners are busy getting prepared for “the Tourist Season.” All in all, May Long is the official kick-off to summer in Northwest Ontario.
The walleye season in late May and June is fantastic. Lodges are booked solid and locals are out on the lake enjoying the fishing. Life is good. The summer solstice occurs from June 20-22. This means in June, the sun is setting at 10 or even 11 at night. This is definitely another benefit of living in the north. Sure, the days are really short in December, but hey, we get to enjoy the Christmas lights longer each evening. Plus, I’d much rather have these late-night sunsets in the summer, when we can really enjoy being outdoors.
This leads us to July and August, my favourite months of the year. Once again, we have made it through the year and we relish these warm months. We are back again swimming in the lakes, boating, fishing, tubing, paddle boarding, camping, and enjoying the sweet summer days.
I’ve lived in many different climates, and I have to admit that I love Northwest Ontario’s weather the best.
Even though I am the first to complain about the cold, I look forward to each and every season we have and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
What’s your favourite season? I invite you to visit Ontario's Sunset Country to enjoy any of our four seasons.