Wild Canadian Weather — Cold

Canadians push the limits of cold endurance while baby harp seals brave icy water and flying squirrels cuddle.
Available on CBC Gem

Wild Canadian Weather — Cold

Nature of Things

From the filmmakers who brought you WILD CANADA and THE WILD CANADIAN YEAR comes WILD CANADIAN WEATHER, an exciting new series that continues the exploration of Canada’s fascinating wildlife, amazing landscapes and extraordinary people —this time, through the lens of Canada’s intense and dramatic weather.

No weather defines Canada more than cold; it transforms our landscapes and shapes life for wildlife and people, creating both hardship and wonder. Canada has some of the coldest weather on the planet, with recorded temperatures as low as those on the surface of Mars. Cold, the first episode in this five-part series, offers an unforgettable cinematic journey through some of Canada’s most dangerous and spectacular weather.

Enjoying the cold can make life in Canada a lot of fun. “Cold days can be beautiful,” says Ivy Muturi. “It’s just a crispness in the air and there’s a stillness.” Muturi learned this as a child when her family moved to Canada from Kenya, and now as an adult, she braves temperatures of -40 C to try some cold weather magic and create a golden arc of snow.

On Canada’s Atlantic coast, hundreds of thousands of harp seal pups are born on the floating pack ice. These adorable fluffy newborns brave frigid, ice-choked seawater and learn how to swim at just a few days old. Harp seals aren’t the only ones making use of the ice. Some Canadians take their love of the cold to new extremes. Athlete and adventurer Magali Côté pushes the boundaries of cold endurance as she freedives under 2 metres of solid ice for hours at a time.

The coldest places in Canada are above the Arctic Circle, where temperatures can plunge as low as -70 C. In these conditions, crafty ravens use their brainpower to survive, sheltering near heating vents in the nearby town of Kugluktuk. Inuit living here know how to dress for it; learning to make cold-weather clothing is an art form and grandparents Allen and Grace Niptanatiak teach their granddaughters how to sew mittens. The next day, Allen takes his grandkids out on the land to teach them the art of igloo-building, a critical cold-weather survival skill.

In a never-before-filmed behaviour, flying squirrels, who are active all winter, survive the coldest nights by snuggling together in “cuddle-puddles” deep inside their treetop dens. Other animals, like the little brown bat, hibernate in chilly caves by turning into a living icicle.

When the polar vortex brings extreme cold and snow to the city of Ottawa, thermal imaging shows the surprisingly powerful effects of wind chill on the human body. But some places in Canada, like the Booming Ice Chasm, are always cold, even in summer. Here, explorers descend a treacherous frozen ice fall to look for clues about life on ultra-cold planets.

Cold weather also creates a magical feature of everyday life that we often overlook: icicles. Time-lapse reveals their surprisingly complex creation, and there is a rare kingdom of ice where icicles grow up instead of down, creating a landscape of sparkling ice pillars.

Offering remarkable stories of danger and beauty from all across the country, this is cold weather as you’ve never experienced it before.

WILD CANADIAN WEATHER is an intimate and dramatic exploration of life in one of the most intense and challenging weather-influenced countries on the planet. Each episode reveals the drama and natural history of weather events and their impacts on people and wildlife. WILD CANADIAN WEATHER will give Canadians even more reasons to talk about the weather!