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Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Brisbane Australia
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Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Hi All

My partner and I are travelling to Eastern Canada in December. We land in Ottawa first, then head off to Montreal before spending Xmas in Quebec City. We live in Brisbane, Australia, and our current winter temp is about 28 degrees celsius. Obviously it is going to be very cold over there (and hopefully snowing) and it is hard to find the kinds of things we need here. Does anyone know a good place where we might buy some reasonably priced and not too ugly men coats when we land in Ottawa? We are on holidays so I don't want to go overboard with the cash, but I don't want to look like no-one owns me either. Thanks so much, and I can't wait to visit you beautiful country.

Much thanks

Yorick

gxp
Niagara
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1. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Walmart is probably cheapest. Or Winners.

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Hi Yozz1,

LOL, you are certainly in for a shock the moment you step off the plane...

Just so you know... the average temps for the 3 cities are as follows

OTTAWA

Dec = High 28 F (-2C) - Low 15 F (-9C)

Jan = High 20 F (-7C) - Low 6 F (-14C)

MONTREAL

Dec = High 29 F (-2C) - Low 16 F (-9C)

Jan = High 21 F (-6C) - Low 7 F (-14C)

QUEBEC CITY

Dec = High 25 F (-4C) - Low 12 F (-11C)

Jan = High 17 F (-8C) - Low 3 F (-16C)

So you will be Freeezing for sure. You'll need to get into some serious winter clothing asap. With that in mind, it would beneficial if you told us what time (and day) your plane lands at Ottawa Airport, so we can direct you to the best shopping choices.

As you can see, in relative numbers December is much warmer than January, and it get progressively cooler each day. In addition, we oftentimes get a DEEP FREEZE late in December (when daily temps go to -20C or lower day and night).

You'll need to outfit yourselves with a warm coat, boots that are both warm and dry, a knitted toque, scarf, and mitts / gloves. As well you might want to add heavy socks or longjohns (long underwear). One of the most important things to staying warm in the wintertime here is keeping your extremities covered... a hat, gloves. and boots and thick socks go a long way to achieve that... longjohns are an added layer that will keep you warm under your pants, as the wind chill (ripping wind) here can be quite brutal.

The lower priced Department stores such as Walmart / Zellers can certainly be good choices, my worries are that arriving this late in the season much will be picked over as they only tend to get a limited supply and once it is gone, it's gone... (we Canadians purchase and begin wearing winter clothing typically in late October... once temps start to dip below Zero). Another alternative is shopping at Marks Work Wearhouse which typically has more on hand at that time of the year, because they specialize in winterwear for people who work outdoors. For two guys they'll certainly present themselves as one-stop shopping (coats, boots, toques, gloves and even heavy socks & longjohns), and although they started out supplying the construction industry, they now sell to everyone (and have some fashionable looking stuff), and I will assure you you won't end up looking like "no one loves ya baby" (tip o the hat to Telly Savalas).

Like I said knowing your arrival time etc would be helpful... because if it is well timed you can actually make a WalMart / Marks Work Wearhouse stop while enroute from the Airport.

As for costing... generally speaking a Winter Coat will run you between $ 100 and $ 150, and Boots around $ 100 as well. Expect to spend another $ 50 on accessories (Hat, Scarf & Gloves). Socks & Undies about $ 10 a pair.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Brisbane Australia
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3. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Thanks so much for the detailed reply! Plane lands about 10am (San Fran via NY). I am assuming they'll be a few hours for customs, so we should be out by about 1pm hopefully. I was also thinking about having a look around in San Fran for clothes as well but they might not have everything I need. I'm counting down the days!

Brisbane Australia
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4. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Oh, and we arrive 11 Dec (until 14 Dec ); 15-22 Montreal; 23-26 Quebec City. Cheers.

ottawa
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5. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

IF you already own a decent rain coat/windbreaker that is not too tight, you could simply purchase thick fleece liner to go under the coat. That is what I use and I have 45 minute walk to work in the winter.

It's good to have breathable layers. You'll be surprised how hot you can get when you're active in a full winter coat even when it's minus 15 C outside.

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Hi Yozz1,

Coming in mid-day I will suggest that you head right from the airport to a local mall (South Keys) that has both a WalMart and a Mark's Work Wearhouse.

You will find shopping in downtown Ottawa as well... but these bigger "big box stores" cater more to families in the suburbs... Downtown you'll find more specialty shops (ie Rideau Centre).

You can either grab a cab when departing the airport... or catch an OC Transpo Bus ($ 3 one way fare - EXACT Change, or $ 7 for an Adult Day Pass... unlimited rides all day... again EXACT Fare but you can purchase it right from the Driver).

The OC Transpo Bus # 97 runs out of the Airport about every 15 minutes and South Keys is usually the first stop... just ask the Bus Driver to point it out to you.

No matter whether you take a cab or the bus, the ride will be less than 10 minutes to the South Keys Mall.

SCRATCHMYFEET made a good point, you should definitely look at dressing in layers... then you can add or subtract as needed. Turtlenecks, long sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and sweaters are all good items to consider.

As for the idea of just making do with a windbreaker or raincoat... I highly doubt that you would find this warm enough... unlike my good colleague SCRATCHMYFEET you haven't had years to acclimatize to the cold (heck you'll be surprised what little clothing you'll see teenagers wearing here in the wintertime). Travellers / Immigrants from warmer climates say they tend to be freezing here pretty much year round the first year they arrive... and particularly so in our winter.

For more info on where things are in relation to the Airport, I suggest that you take a look at GOOGLE MAPS... it will let you plot any landmark, hotel, store etc. and then calculate the time & distances.

After your shopping trip... you can either catch a cab from the Mall or hop on the # 97 Bus once more (same direction) and it will take you downtown. The MacKenzie-King Bridge stop is about 20 Minutes, and the Albert & Kent about 5 minutes longer... time by cab will be a few minutes shorter.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

ottawa
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7. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

A winter-rated fleece liner and a windproof jacket is far superior to a cheap winter coat.

A cheap winter coat can actually make you colder as they cause you to sweat. Then your sweat will start to freeze, making you feel extremely cold.

A fleece liner wips the moisture away from your skin, keeping you comfortable. This is especially important if you plan to be active when you're outside.

Visit mec.ca > learning > clothes layering. for strategies for keeping comfortable in winter.

Ottawa, Canada
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8. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

TO SCRATCHMYFEET,

I think we are indeed on the same page... I was thinking those coats (kind of like ski jackets) that have zip in zip out liners that Mark's carries.

Where you threw me was when you suggested that the traveller bring his own windbreaker / raincoat... I still don't see that as the best "outside" layer for our climate in that it will be most likely constructed specifically for Australian conditions... and may not be as waterproof as the ones available here. Remembering that a snow storm can be pretty wet.

What we both do agree on however is that "cheaper" is not necessarily the best solution (which I why I was reluctant to recommend WalMart in the first place).

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

ottawa
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9. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

If Yozz1 doesn't have one, I reccomend investing in a good waterproof/windproof breathable shell. It's a good thing to have anywhere you travel that might be windy or rainy (like San Francisco). I've found mine useful in Europe, San Francisco, Hawaii, winter in Canada, Summer in Canada etc.

Not a big fan of the zip-in things. If one layer wears out faster than the other layer you have to replace the whole thing. I like to mix and match with all different weights of liners depending on the temperature and replace each layer as it wears out.

Sydney Australia
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10. Re: Buying winter clothes in Ottawa

Yozz1,

Think what you need for Thredbo! MUST have warm socks, scarf, hat etc. But, I have just been reading reviews of hotels, and the locals are complaining about an indoor night temperature of 17C. Seems they freeze!

Here in Sydney we are getting these winter days of 25C (heaven help us all in summer) but it is still a nice 12C at night. I would never dream of using heating at night and I love it when it is 8C and I have my electric blanket. But over there, it is so HOT inside in winter and so FREEZING outside.

We will be there in October but it still feels like we will need our entire wardrobe. To make matters more complicated we go home via Dubai where it may be 45!

Places like Katmandu are best if you want to buy at home. I guess you have them in Qld.