Travel

Winter driving from Calgary to Toronto

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 29th, 2021 9:52 pm
[OP]
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Nov 3, 2009
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Calgary

Winter driving from Calgary to Toronto

I'm an essential worker and I have to travel by myself at the end of January although I hate to. I'm planning to spend 5 days and 4 nights, stop at Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie then Toronto. Is that a good itinerary? Any suggestions and advices?
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Jul 18, 2007
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Markham
ibuddler wrote: I'm an essential worker and I have to travel by myself at the end of January although I hate to. I'm planning to spend 5 days and 4 nights, stop at Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie then Toronto. Is that a good itinerary? Any suggestions and advices?
that's the way to do it - i've made that drive in 36hrs (stopping only for fuel), so 5 days 4 nights would make for a nice and relaxed drive. There are a couple points where you'll want to be continuously fuelled, it gets pretty sparse between Thunder Bay and the Sault, with one point that has (had - not sure nowadays) over 200+ km between gas stations.
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Oct 6, 2007
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If you have any flexibility, follow the weather. Driving across in a high pressure area will be a lot more safe and enjoyable than in a low. Sometimes it's just a matter of a couple of days one way or another.
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Nov 25, 2010
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Abbottabad
Goodluck bro. At least it's not late November when you only have daylight between 8-4pm. Actually daylight at the end of January is around 8-6pm so not much difference.
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iamskyhigh wrote: Goodluck bro. At least it's not late November when you only have daylight between 8-4pm. Actually daylight at the end of January is around 8-6pm so not much difference.
?? There's no difference between November 21 and January 21 in how many hours of daylight there are; both being equal distance from the winter solstice. Sure If you're talking a week later, there will be a bit more daylight on January 30 than there was on November 30 but we are talking a few minutes of difference, definitely not two hours.
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ibuddler wrote: I'm an essential worker and I have to travel by myself at the end of January although I hate to. I'm planning to spend 5 days and 4 nights, stop at Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie then Toronto. Is that a good itinerary? Any suggestions and advices?
You need to pack survival stuff if you're going to do that drive in January. Having heat, food, water, clothing, and a sleeping bag to survive –20º temperatures overnight could be the difference between life and death if something bad happens along the way.
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Kiraly wrote: ?? There's no difference between November 21 and January 21 in how many hours of daylight there are; both being equal distance from the winter solstice. Sure If you're talking a week later, there will be a bit more daylight on January 30 than there was on November 30 but we are talking a few minutes of difference, definitely not two hours.
There is a difference, almost half an hour and close to an hour on the 30th. Calgary Nov 21 sunset 4:40:50 pm, Jan 21 sunset 5:08:57 pm = 28 minutes. Calgary Nov 30 sunset 4:33:12 pm, Jan 30 sunset 5:24:26 pm = 51 minutes. iamskyhigh was off by about 33 minutes for both months.
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tew wrote: There is a difference, almost half an hour and close to an hour on the 30th. Calgary Nov 21 sunset 4:40:50 pm, Jan 21 sunset 5:08:57 pm = 28 minutes. Calgary Nov 30 sunset 4:33:12 pm, Jan 30 sunset 5:24:26 pm = 51 minutes. iamskyhigh was off by about 33 minutes for both months.
You sure about that? My Calgary sunrise/sunset for 21 Jan is 0826/1708 (8:42) and for 21 Nov 2020 is 0804/1641 (8:37) (and do note that there is one more day from solstice of 21 Dec to 21 January than there is between 21 November and solstice of 21 December so a 20 Jan is0829/1706 or 8:34 of daylight). We're talking hours of daylight and not sunset. Up until last year, I thought that the mornings and evenings start lengthening or shortening right at the solstice. Turns out that the afternoons stop getting shorter and start to lengthen about 7-10 days before the winter solstice, but mornings keep getting later until about 7-10 days after the winter solstice.

This tool is handy.
http://www.suncalc.net/#/51.0802,-113.9 ... 1.21/11:16
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Nov 25, 2010
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Y'all are annoying AF.

My point is OP just watch your daylight, unless you have no issues driving at night.
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Aug 3, 2017
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How comfortable are you with driving? For me this would be far too long of an itinerary to do the drive. I would comfortably do this drive in 3-4 days. What I would be most concerned about is not being on a tight schedule so as to plan for inclement weather. Also be sure to keep a decent amount of gas in the tank and blankets, etc, particularly for the ON part of the drive which is very long and isolated.
[OP]
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Nov 3, 2009
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Thank you guys. I used google map street view and I think I'll avoid driving at night. I'll try to drive from 9AM to 6PM.
hewjas wrote: that's the way to do it - i've made that drive in 36hrs (stopping only for fuel), so 5 days 4 nights would make for a nice and relaxed drive. There are a couple points where you'll want to be continuously fuelled, it gets pretty sparse between Thunder Bay and the Sault, with one point that has (had - not sure nowadays) over 200+ km between gas stations.
dolfan1980 wrote: How comfortable are you with driving? For me this would be far too long of an itinerary to do the drive. I would comfortably do this drive in 3-4 days. What I would be most concerned about is not being on a tight schedule so as to plan for inclement weather. Also be sure to keep a decent amount of gas in the tank and blankets, etc, particularly for the ON part of the drive which is very long and isolated.
For the ON part, should I stop for every gas station and fill up my tank? Is Thunder Bay normally warmer than Calgary coz it's much more south than calgary? Hope there won't be any snow storms for the next 2 weeks. How's the traffic in Ontario part?
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Aug 3, 2017
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ibuddler wrote: Thank you guys. I used google map street view and I think I'll avoid driving at night. I'll try to drive from 9AM to 6PM.

I mean you just want to give yourself a little insurance that if you slide off the road you can keep yourself warm for a few hours so as long as you don't go below 1/3 of a tank and don't drive at night you'll be fine. Not trying to scare you, very unlikely you'll get stranded, but always better to be safe. I'm not sure you need to stop at every station, but you should try to keep a little in reserve. When I did this drive I did Ottawa to Thunder Bay, then Thunder Bay to just outside Edmonton (very long second day).

Traffic in ON isn't that bad I wouldn't imagine this time of year, but keep in mind that the "highway" is one lane each way for most of ON and you could get stuck behind snowplows and trucks for a lot of it and the speed limit being 90 and road conditions likely being variable.

In terms of temperature, it could be colder than Calgary or it could be warmer. There is a polar vortex coming they say this coming week, so even Toronto/Ottawa will potentially be Calgary cold, so the likelihood of Thunder Bay being cold is pretty good. It won't be -30, but it could be quite chilly.



For the ON part, should I stop for every gas station and fill up my tank? Is Thunder Bay normally warmer than Calgary coz it's much more south than calgary? Hope there won't be any snow storms for the next 2 weeks. How's the traffic in Ontario part?
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Jul 18, 2007
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ibuddler wrote: Thank you guys. I used google map street view and I think I'll avoid driving at night. I'll try to drive from 9AM to 6PM.

For the ON part, should I stop for every gas station and fill up my tank? Is Thunder Bay normally warmer than Calgary coz it's much more south than calgary? Hope there won't be any snow storms for the next 2 weeks. How's the traffic in Ontario part?
Keep an eye out for moose, especially if/when you're driving between dusk and dawn. You'll know you're in moose country- the road signs will let you know. You don't need to stop at every gas station but you should plan to leave Wawa with a full tank. It used to be 200km+ between stations from Wawa to Sault Ste Marie, but that might not be the case anymore, it's been a while since I've done the drive. At the time, there were multiple road signs warning you that the next gas station was 200km away.

You'll think that you've driven past the same grain elevator 4 or 5 times when going through Saskatchewan. Just pay attention to the kilometer signs and you'll see they're slowly counting to your destination. Even though that same grain elevator was next to the same road next to the same co-op. You're making progress. I promise.

Driving in Ontario will take as much time as the other 3 provinces combined, but you'll only have to deal with seriously bad traffic and poor drivers for the last 1.5 hours of your trip.

Lastly, since you're doing this over 5 days you should take the time to drive past some landmarks...you'll see dinosaurs, and ancient hills, a sleeping giant, some huge currency...use the google machine to see what's on the route and can be done in the car!
Last edited by hewjas on Jan 17th, 2021 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ibuddler wrote: Thank you guys. I used google map street view and I think I'll avoid driving at night. I'll try to drive from 9AM to 6PM.

For the ON part, should I stop for every gas station and fill up my tank? Is Thunder Bay normally warmer than Calgary coz it's much more south than calgary? Hope there won't be any snow storms for the next 2 weeks. How's the traffic in Ontario part?

1. Between Thunder Bay and SSM, there's 24X7 gas at White River ON (as well as Nipigon , but that won't help you)
2. As you move eastward, you lose 1 hour at each time zone crossing
3. Use the Weather Network to check highway forecast https://www.theweathernetwork.com/maps/highway-forecast
4. Cell coverage between TB and SSM can be spotty depending on provider. Check your provider coverage map
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Only you know what range your vehicle comfortably gets.

Probably Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Virden, Winnipeg. I'd fuel up (at White Hawk Lake) before you cross into Ontario, then perhaps at Kenora and/or Thunder Bay (cheap fuel at a reservation south of town). Once you leave TB, there's Nipigon (too soon?), Marathon and the afore-mentioned White River before you get to Wawa, I am pretty sure there was a gas station in the Betchawana vicinity (Voyageur restaurant) before SSM.
You'll think that you've driven past the same grain elevator 4 or 5 times when going through Saskatchewan. Just pay attention to the kilometer signs and you'll see they're slowly counting to your destination. Even though that same grain elevator was next to the same road next to the same co-op. You're making progress. I promise.
Unfortunately the old wooden grain elevators a.k.a. prairie skyscrapers are becoming very rare (several demolished every week). See them while you still can.
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
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Do it over 3 days.....4 tops. What are you going to do with the rest of the time if you do it as planned OP? Watch TV in your motel?

Calgary to Winnipeg

Winnipeg to SSM

SSM to Toronto

Mind you, I'm comfortable driving long distances even in the dark. I am from Montreal and went to Uni in Thunder Bay and used to drive that in a day. 17 hours in 1 shot.
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Aug 3, 2017
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Swerny wrote: Do it over 3 days.....4 tops. What are you going to do with the rest of the time if you do it as planned OP? Watch TV in your motel?

Calgary to Winnipeg

Winnipeg to SSM

SSM to Toronto

Mind you, I'm comfortable driving long distances even in the dark. I am from Montreal and went to Uni in Thunder Bay and used to drive that in a day. 17 hours in 1 shot.
I agree, except if the weather is crap better to do the motel thing than struggle on the highway at 65km/hr and ending up in a ditch. I too have no trouble driving 15-18 hours a day when I am in a mode to get somewhere, though not sure I'd recommend that in Northern ON when the roads are poor. It's far different in summer or on a US interstate.

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