February is mid-winter in Canada and one of the year's coldest months. As a very large and geographically diverse country, it's impossible to generalize about Canada's weather in any month. However, you can guarantee that temperatures will be cold, ranging from damp and chilly (but mild) on the coast to sub-zero in inland areas, in the mountains, and further north.
For example, Québec City in eastern Canada, not far inland, has an average minimum February temperature of 9°F (-13°C) and a maximum of 23°F (-5°C); Toronto, which is further inland but on one of the Great Lakes, has a minimum average temperature of 19°F (-7°C) and a maximum of 30°F (-1°C). On the other side of Canada, inland Calgary sees similarly cold temperatures, with a minimum of 16°F (-9°C) and a maximum of 34°F (1°C). Meanwhile, coastal Vancouver is milder, with an average minimum of 37°F (3°C) and a maximum of 46°F (8°C).
Even though all of these major cities are cold in February, they are still relatively far south in Canada. The further north you go, the colder (and darker) things become this month. The shortest day of the year is in late December, though, so by February, the days are lengthening, and the nights are getting shorter.
Crowds & Costs
February is the peak season for skiing and other snow sports in resort towns in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia, and the Vancouver area. In popular resorts—such as Whistler, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, and Banff—it's essential to book accommodation in advance. Many Canadians from the east travel west for ski season. Expect to pay high prices for accommodation and transport to such areas.
Outside of ski resorts, February is the low season for travel in Canada. There are still many things you can enjoy in Canada's cities during this month, though, and prices will be lower. Note that smaller inland towns and cities that don't cater to the skiing set may not have very many tourism facilities open in February. You're more likely to find a good deal on accommodation and decent winter conditions on the coast.
Where to Go
February is a lovely time to visit Nova Scotia in eastern Canada. While temperatures will be cold, coastal areas of Canada tend to be milder in the winter than inland areas, so you can enjoy the snowy landscape without the same freezing temperatures as other parts of the country. For example, Halifax has daytime temperatures of around 33°F (0°C). Go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the backcountry, sip ice wine at the annual Icewine Festival in the Annapolis Valley or relax in a spa with sea views on Cape Breton Island.
If you have a generous budget and desire to get off the beaten path, head to the Yukon for aurora-chasing adventures. This sparsely populated area of forests, mountains, and wilderness is very far north and partly in the Arctic Circle, so it remains pretty dark throughout the month, with only around five hours of daylight. Provincial capital Whitehorse is home to the AuroraCentre, from where you can take tours to see the impressive aurora borealis.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
As peak snow season, February is an ideal time to go skiing or to participate in other snow sports. The mountain ski fields of British Columbia and Alberta offer plenty of opportunities within easy reach of Vancouver or Calgary. Head to Whistler, Grouse Mountain, or Cypress Mountain (among other ski resorts) for excellent skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing adventures.
Head to the Kootenay Rockies, between Vancouver and Calgary, to get further from the crowds. The Powder Highway that circles the Kootenay and Selkirk Mountains provides access to resorts (including Revelstoke, Fernie, and Kicking Horse) and heli-ski adventures for experienced, adventurous travelers.
Ice skating is another favorite Canadian winter pastime. In Ottawa, on the other side of the country, the entire length of the Rideau Canal turns into a skateway from January to late February/early March. The 4.8-mile (7.8-km) canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can skate and even walk for free. Look to the canal for this month's Winterlude for a host of (mostly) free events.
Events in February
Québec Winter Carnival, Québec City. Thousands visit this annual festival held in historic Québec City every February. Parades, ice slides, snow sculptures, shows, and skating make it a winter wonderland for all ages to enjoy.
Chinese/Lunar New Year, especially Vancouver. Given the large ethnic Chinese population in Vancouver and nearby Richmond, this is a huge celebration with a massive parade, street festivals, and food events. Chinese New Year can fall in January or February.
Nova Scotia Icewine Festival, Annapolis Valley. Sample local food and drink, including the cold-weather ice wine, at this annual event in Nova Scotia.
Traveling to Canada in February? Check out these great itineraries
Aurora Viewing in the Yukon - 4 Days. Based in the Yukon's capital of Whitehorse, you'll spend each evening at an idyllic location called the AuroraCentre for relaxed viewing beside a cozy wood stove or roaring campfire. Meanwhile, daylight hours are free for winter sports and hot springs.
Sea-to-Sky Highway: Vancouver to Whistler - 7 Days. An active itinerary, spend a week exploring Vancouver and the Coast Mountains around Whistler. Ski/snowboard, skate, and snowshoe alpine lakes and world-class pistes, all the while enjoying stunning landscape views.