What's Your Story
What happens when you try really hard to not hate winter?
'Could we change winter haters (including me!) into winter ... lovers?'
Abby Goodwin loves living on Prince Edward Island — in the summer. After flirting with milder B.C. climates, she decided to come home and embrace the frostier side of P.E.I.
Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" Goodwin shares hers.
It's been said time and time again, "P.E.I. is lovely in the summer, but you certainly don't want to be here in the winter!"
It's true. I was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, and I'm proud to be an Islander — but it's no secret that we endure some fairly tough winter months.
- Personal Essay How backyard hens forced me to not be chicken about winter
For years, I closed the blinds for the winter season. I even escaped it for a good while.
At 18, I moved to Victoria to play rugby year-round. B.C. winters are not exactly what you think of when you think of a Canadian winter. They are much more casual!
We're talking –40 C, eight foot snow banks and the city shutting down … in August.
I traded in blustery snowstorms, frozen hands and salty boots for January rugby games, February hikes and snow that was only where you want it — on the mountains!
Six years later, through the jigs and the reels, I ended up back home in Charlottetown.
Love your enemy
Coming home meant signing myself back up for six to eight months of cold weather and two to three months of harsh winters.
We're talking –40 C, eight foot snow banks and the city shutting down after Old Home Week — in August.
In 2016, some friends and I decided this winter was going to be different.
We wanted to shift the negative winter narrative to try something more positive! Could P.E.I. be as magical in the cold as it is in the warmth? Could we help change the way people spoke (well, complained) about winter? Could we get people to go outside with the same enthusiasm we see when the June beach season hits?
Could we change winter haters (including me!) into winter ... lovers?
So began #WinterLovePEI, a hub for all things winter.
The story is shifting
The City of Charlottetown jumped on board, alongside plenty of local organizations, to plan and promote winter related events across the island.
We had events such as a Disco Skate party where a local brewery brought the disco balls, lights, DJs and hosted an after party! We danced, skated, drank hot chocolate and sat by firepits alongside family and friends.
At another event, Fire 'n' Ice, a local inn hosted us in their outdoor space. We huddled around more fires, ate hot chili and watched a fire dancer, all while being bundled up outside. We bonded over the fact it was –25 C and we were toughing it out together.
We hosted another event in a downtown city park, where the city turned off the lights and rented out snowshoes, stargazed and offered nighttime photography lessons.
It was incredible to see so many Islanders come to these events and express their excitement to embrace winter and have fun doing it!
Social media helped us lure even more people outdoors.
With active Facebook and Instagram accounts, we reached thousands of Islanders and promoted over 30 events that included skating, snowshoeing, curling, skating, cross-country and downhill skiing.
I believe the narrative is starting to shift, but there is still a long way to go!
I would encourage you to look for events happening in your city during winter. Yes it is cold. Yes sometimes it's nice to curl up by the fire.
These are the types of moments that stay with you.
But it is also fun to be bundled up and breathing the cold air with friends and family and getting excited to try something new!
I remember looking up during one event and feeling extraordinarily happy. That night I'd almost cancelled on friends and turned on a movie — but, I didn't. Instead I ended up dancing and laughing on skates with some of my closest friends. These are the types of moments that stay with you.
I can proudly say I have levelled up: from feeling neutral about winter to declaring myself a winter liker.
The next step, maybe this year, is to become a winter lover.
(I am not there, yet!)