This may not be the best time of year to bring it up but…. New Brunswick has long, cold winters. There, I said it. I know that some of you will have your hands over your ears while chanting nah, nah, nah, nah but, no matter, it is true. New Brunswick has long, cold winters.
I raise this because we spend a lot of time trying to pretend we don’t have winter – to annually erase it from our collective memory. If you leaf through picture books of the province, you will rarely see a single snowflake. I recently watched a 8 minute promotional video for a city in Northern Ontario that never once mentioned or showed anything even remotely like winter. My wife has an old bag of Manitoba flour from 50 years ago (she uses it as a crafty decoration). It’s for Manitoba Hard Wheat – branded as “Island Queen” with palm trees. I guess the idea is that if you eat this flour you will feel like an Island Queen in Cuba or somewhere. Let’s be honest. At the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg during January and February doesn’t feel like the tropics – no matter how much wheat you pump down your gullet.
It’s not just Canadians. I was given a picture book back in the 1990s promoting the State of Minnesota. Yes, you guessed it. Not a single photo of winter or ice.
Now that we have to get serious about attracting people to live here we have to be honest about the weather. In fact, we should embrace and celebrate it. It is part of who we are. It is part of our culture. There are lots of things to do in winter – skiing, skating, sliding, hiking, snowshoeing, ice fishing, winter camping, bonfires, etc. etc. etc. Don’t hunker down. Get out there in the frostiness and grab a newcomer while you are at it.
The next time I pick up an NB picture book, or see a city promotional video, I hope there are images of snowmen, ice fishing shacks and people skiing. It matters now more than ever.