Every year thousands of Canadian geese flock to Winnipeg in the spring, making the long journey north for warmer temperatures.

But this year, they got here and turned right back around.

In 30 years at Fort Whyte Alive, a wildlife preserve in Winnipeg, Ken Cudmore said he has never seen geese retreat.

Winnipeg is experiencing its coldest winter in 35 years, with temperatures well below seasonal. On Tuesday alone, Winnipeg’s temperatures were about 10 degrees below normal which is a high 3 C for this time of year.

“They don’t have to go that far south to get out of this, you know,” said the wildlife manager, joking he didn’t blame them. “I’m thinking of going myself.”

Cudmore said a handful of geese stayed behind, but because the birds require open water and the preserve is still frozen, the majority of the ones that arrived are nowhere to be found.

Salons fill up, spring sales stall

The birds aren’t the only ones retreating; Winnipeggers are sick and tired of the extreme cold that just won’t seem to loosen its grip on the city.

Over at Berns and Black Salon and Spa, owner Kitty Berns said she’s had to order double the colour she normally does to keep up with clients who want a big change.

“People are just – they’re feeling sallow. They can’t get away. They haven’t had the sun, and the hair is just an easy way to revitalize, refresh and boost,” said Berns. “All of a sudden everyone was coming in. They were like, ‘Chop off 18 inches! I want to go platinum blonde! I don’t care if it’s spring or winter – I’m ready for a change!’”

Berns herself has had it with winter. Two weeks ago, she came outside to find her car frozen in ice after a watermain break on her street.

Over at Paper Doll Clothing on McDermot Avenue, the opposite problem -they can’t move much spring merchandise.

“There hasn’t been any reason to really purchase spring clothes right now because all we have is snow outside,” said Sarah Mariano, the owner of the shop.

There is some relief in sight for both the birds and businesses in Winnipeg. CBC Meteorologist John Sauder is predicting things will warm up slightly over the weekend.