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Facing Canadian Winter

How does one face Canadian winter? The ISO asked Concordia students for their advice.

Winter Guidelines


During Montreal winters, temperatures can go down to -30 C°, which means that you need to dress warm.
Wear a big winter coat and gloves, keep your head and ears warm with a cozy hat, protect your neck from icy winds with a scarf, and wear insulated boots and thick socks when walking in the snow.
Remember to dress in multiple layers of clothing: It’s always better to be prepared, and you can always take layers off when you are too warm. 


Winter here means snowed in streets and more traffic. As a general rule, give yourself extra time to get to school.
Concordia’s shuttle bus runs all year no matter the weather, so make sure you use it to get from one campus to the next!
Take advantage of the metro system: Montreal is home to the largest underground city with access to restaurants and shopping, all connected by stops on the orange and green line. You can access most Concordia buildings downtown through Guy-Concordia metro without going outside.


  • Depending on your rent, heating of your home may or may not be included.
  • If you have to pay heat yourself, you’ll likely have to control your own thermostat, meaning that you can turn your heat up and down.
  • If you pay for your heating, you may want to look into a payment arrangement. A payment arrangement helps you spread your annual electricity bill over several installments. This agreement can also include an estimation of your electricity consumption for the duration of the agreement. 
  • Lower your thermostat by 2 or 3 degrees when you leave your house to save on the electricity bill.
  • If you don’t control the heating and your apartment is too cold, don’t hesitate to speak to your landlord.
  • Be careful around space heaters, as they may be possible fire hazards.
  • Walkways and exits must always be cleared of snow in case of an emergency.

What are frozen pipes and why do they happen?

Winter is cold in Montreal! The temperature can fall to as low as -40C which makes waiting for the shuttle bus or even crossing the campus a daunting proposal. These low temperatures can also affect the water in your home. Water can freeze inside your pipes blocking the flow and damaging materials. The cold can crack your pipes at joints, valves, or other weak points within the system. Sometimes, so much water pressure is builds up in the pipe that waters burst out of these weak points causing extensive damage to the apartment.

Here are some ways to avoid frozen pipes.

  • Leave the heat on: The key is to insulate your pipes and make sure they are warm. When you leave your home remember to leave the heating on. There is no one universal temperature to avoid frozen however a good rule of thumb is to set your heating so that your apartment is around 10C (50F). Bear in mind that this will mean a higher utility bill for the extra power consumed when you are not home but it is usually a small price to pay in comparison to burst pipes.
  • Wrap your pipes: Check to see where pipes are vulnerable to exposure; this can include under cabinets or other hard to reach places that may be insulated. You can wrap your pipes with insulation foam available at many hardware stores to try and prevent bursting.  You can also leave your cabinet doors open to ensure they get some of the heat from your apartment.
  • Talk to your landlord: Inform your landlord of any gaps in window caulking, poorly insulated rooms, and any other issue that could lower the temperature in your apartment. Ask them if the building has had issues with pipes freezing in the past so you know what to look out for. Many buildings have specific by-laws indicating what the minimum temperature for the apartment is so make sure to follow the guidelines set out by your landlord. 

Report any problems with CSU Off-campus housing.

Things to look out for

  • Watch out for slippery sidewalks: use salt or crampons/ice cleats to avoid falls. You can find crampons in most pharmacies in Montreal.
  • Get proper amounts of sleep and drink a lot of fluids.
  • Stay active! Physical activity helps better your mood and keeps your energy high.
  • Workout at home with Concordia's At Home Workouts!
  • Use Concordia’s Health Services if you ever feel ill.
  • Get as much sunlight as possible.

Winter activities

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