Man behind Long John Index hangs up his thermal underwear

The man behind the satirical government service has decided it’s time to hang up his thermal underwear for good.

'It just connected with people. They loved the absurdity of it'

The higher the Long John Index, the shorter amount of time should be spent outdoors without long johns. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

It's the unofficial authority on how many pairs of thermal underwear you need to wear to survive the long Canadian winter.

The Long John Index Service of Canada has been running for nearly a decade, but the man behind the satirical government service has decided it's time to hang 'em up.

"I'm calling it an indefinite hiatus," Colin MacIntyre said in an interview Monday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

MacIntyre, self-styled "chief intern" of the service, is retiring his weather reports to focus on more pressing matters like fatherhood. 

"When I started Long John Index, I was a single guy, living on my own with lots of free time," said MacIntyre, an Edmonton-based blogger, cartoonist and writer originally from Biggar, Sask.

"I'm now a husband to an amazing woman and a father to an amazing little girl with another kid on the way. Kids take up a lot of time."

The Long John Index website helped Canucks know when it was time to break out their thermal underwear.
Colin MacIntyre is the self-styled "chief intern" of the Long John Index. (Colin Mactinyre)

It rates cities and towns on a scale of one to five — with one being toasty and five being frigid, but there's nothing scientific about MacIntyre's methods.

The Long John Index also boasts its own glossary for some weather patterns that are so very Canadian, including The Polar Bear Alert and The Acceptable Workplace Toque Hair Limit.

MacIntyre started the service on a whim in January 2011.

"One night I sat down and came up with the one-to-five scale," he recalled. "I decided I'm going to take this idea and expand it.

"Instead of it coming from me, what if it came from a phony department of the government with a website and logo?

"Fast forward eight years and here I am."

Since then, the satirical service has been profiled by new agencies across the country and earned acclaim for its very Canadian take on weather reporting.


"It just connected with people. They loved the absurdity of it," MacIntyre said. "It's really a love letter to winter and the experiences we all go through, especially living on the Prairies.

"It's cold and dark; the weather is going to murder you; you can't see the sun for days, but this is how we get through it."

While the daily weather reports will stop, the website will remain accessible.

He's putting the operation on ice but is reluctant to say it's gone for good.

"Someone actually sent me a message and said, 'Thanks for the laughs, have fun with the kids, see you in 18 years.' Maybe I will.

"The Long John Index is a special thing."


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