Canadian Prepping, eh?

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Huples who can frequently be found contributing to our discussion in the comments section of many articles. Today, Huples takes center stage and gives us his perspective on the subject of Canadian Prepping from the Great White North .


Canadian prepping is a bit different from that of our southern cousins in ways other than the obvious (Second Amendment). This article is a personal view on what makes Canadian prepping different from the States. Obviously there are many similarities but for those thinking of bugging out to Canada these brief ideas might help. So what are the major differences and what can all North American preppers take from us northern types?

Guns and ammo are not common

Yes you can get armed but most do not. Certainly automatic machine guns are very rare though hunting rifles are very common. Knives, air rifles, slingshots, and bows designed for hunting rather than killing are usual. Lone wolf type prepping is uncommon with many local groups that are very active socially. The idea of one man/woman or family hold up and blasting away at all comers is not really a concept that has much traction in the north. Think more of the Little House on the Prairie than the Alamo. Community is vital in the best of times and most see that as foundational to personal survival. Personal defense for most consists of bear spray up here and a kitchen knife or two.

Relationship to the Government

Mainly most do not worry very much about our Governments (Federal and Provincial) intruding into our prepping plans. However the main issue is local enforcement of health and safety http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/news-story/5730872-survival-camp-goes-on-at-nuclear-bunker-despite-shelburne-fire-board-s-warning/ As you can see from the article the local government is worried about our safety rather than our prepping! The idea of getting a Government permit for a prepping meet is likely foreign to many Americans! Our official emergency Government advice/help is almost nonexistent other than for earthquakes on the West Coast so the beginning prepper will not likely get clued in from the Canadian Government.

Is your cold weather gear up to the task?

Simply put FEMA North does not exist, so the attendant safety and fears are absent. We are on our own for any significant event. If the Army showed up I’d be surprised. They will be at the food storage area, hospitals, and Government buildings but large numbers patrolling the streets is unlikely.

Winter is always coming!

Yup, usually though this year it seems stalled with the longest Fall I can remember. Still it means that prepping up here does mean serious snow, lack of food, and cold for much of the year. Our food and water stocks cannot really be kept outdoors in the middle of Winter and we cannot rely much on hunting given the depth of snow. The good news is most of us have decent clothing and sleeping systems.

In a grid down long-term or short-term many would die but many more would have access to Winter sleeping and clothing systems that do keep you warm even if you cannot make a fire. Minus 15F sleeping bags are common but I’d go for -32F systems. Older houses have fireplaces but millions live in suburbs and frankly they are doomed in any long-term event as is no doubt true for all North Americans.

Bugging Out

Family farms and cottages are common even near urban conurbations. Yet getting there for the unprepared if it is snowing would be nearly impossible if cars or bikes could not be used. Most are near established and armed (hunting) towns and I cannot see a bunch of city dwellers thriving in their cottages in a prolonged event. The real locals would hit those cottages very early on and, at best, block access. I have a cottage and it is an okay bug out place but the plan is to use it year 2 or 3 for a prolonged event and then only as a Summer fishing camp. For a short duration event it would be ideal and has been set up for that. The supplies are buried in the forest not in the cottage itself and were designed to be frozen and reheated as the seasons change.

For bugging out, snow shoes and/or skies are essential up here as is very good quality sun glasses. I have been sunburned in February while out enjoying the snow. That is not something people tend to think of but sun protection is actually more vital in the Winter than the Summer up here.

This maybe painful to some of you but frost bite is very easy to experience up here. I have had my penis partially frost-bitten when I was new to Canada. Once bitten ten thousand times shy! You learn to double and triple layers that are at risk. Tip! If the extremity feels warm it means it is being frozen!

canada-map

Wildlife

There is plenty to hunt and trap away from the cities but everyone up there will be doing that at the start. Our cities have abundant wildlife for hunting. Geese, ducks, squirrels, and raccoons abound. Knowing how to hunt and trap them without firearms is an essential prep for any urban Canadian prepper. Rat traps are a piece of gear that are essential here. Squirrel meat would be easy to obtain.

Fishing is common and abundant. Ice fishing skills are something you must have rather than nice to have! Fish would be the post scenario staple with a bit of deer or goose as a rare treat.

Farming

Very much depends on which part of Canada you live in but our Thanksgiving is a month before yours as the growing season is basically May through early October. Sure you can grow corn but squash, potatoes, and cold hardy plants like kale would be the best staples post grid down. Knowing how to grow these and how to store them is another have to skill in Canada. People will not be able to grow abundant food to trade for several years. If you cannot can your surplus in the Fall then you will not survive in Canada.

Deer and Moose soon enough will be a major threat to any crop up here. Have chicken wire and know how to protect those crops from our superhero deer or you will be very hungry. Corn can grow but beans and amaranth grow much easier up here. They are also easier to hide and store than huge corn cobs in your garden.

Canadian Prepping

Nature.

This is why my plan is not to flee to Florida. Wood and water are plentiful. You can get everything you need here to thrive provided you have basic technology and skills in place. I live near Toronto but have five water sources and multiple forests within one mile of my house. As we have developed as a culture many of these natural areas are entirely without trail access and people simply do not bother to look for them. My local ones have a few secret self-sustaining mini gardens that I put in and leave!

Canadian Prepping is Really Homesteading and Bush craft

You can only store so much and living off the land is vital given the problems or the climate for the majority of the year. Knowing how to harvest pine bark and eat it would be a life saver. Being able to tap maple and other sap trees would also be a vital skill.

Conclusion

Prepping is prepping and the threats are the same but culture pre-event will determine the culture post event. In a harsh environment people have to work together or everyone dies. Once an event occurs there will be little opportunity to do that in Canada or the USA but in Canada small communities would form very quickly among the survivors. Please note you do not need Winter clothing if visiting us in July, eh

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25 Comments on "Canadian Prepping, eh?"

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Bolofia
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Great article, and thanks for a perspective on conditions that are entirely different from much of the U.S. Given the vast size of Canada and a sparse populations away from metropolitan areas, how would you handle long term fuel (gas/diesel) issues?

Huples
Guest

Thanks.
Basically we’d go back to isolated hamlets connected in the Summer by canoe. The roads would deteriorate rapidly without care.
I didn’t mention it but in the Winter shorter trips are easier via skating on frozen rivers.
On a personal level we keep 50 litres of gas so we can get to a few bug out places if car works and roads are safe but there’s no way we could store enough gas to travel around the local area let alone the country!

HART
Guest
If you mean heating fuel, most of us in my area anyway have wood stoves and most people cut their own wood so heating wouldn’t be an issue in this area. If you mean actual gas for driving, we wouldn’t really need to go anywhere. It’s a good idea to keep your gas tank full and have a few spare jugs in case you need to drive out of province or use your chainsaw. Other then that, I don’t see why we would need any gas? Heat is wood, the wells are full of water, there are natural spring pipes… Read more »
ChrisD
Guest
I grew up on a 6000 acre farm in Northern Canada, I can tell you, if the SHTF, if you don’t have a few acres to work for the familly in the summer, don’t have the food before it hits the fan, canning equipment and training, riffle (i prefer a crossbow with hunting tips, can reuse the “projectile” instead of having to reload old shells, and doesn’t make a sound if dealing with intruders…), and a few good neighbours, you ain’t going to make it up there through the winter. Fuel is wood, oil for lamps and meat for protein… Read more »
Huples
Guest

Thanks Chris. Rarely happens to me but I completely agree with everything you say. I think we get how hard it would be up here as usually the Winter reminds us in good times. I suspect it is going to be hard everywhere and the things you mention apply to everyone. Other than the caribou burgers 🙂

tman
Guest

That’s interesting that you aren’t worried aboot the Government. I am not sure if that is because it is not as bad as we for see the U.S. Gov. Or maybe the people are conditioned to a different style of Gov? I ask this with respect, and I would be happy if I didn’t have to worry about the Gov.

Huples
Guest
Lol. Aboot 🙂 Our federal government is much less in your face up here. Quebec ensured the provinces and territories have much more control than would have happened otherwise. Our armed forces are much smaller and way less funded than the USA per capita. Reserve Forces are tiny. Simply put there’s not enough to threaten the population as a whole and not enough to help much in a major event. The local governments have police but do not have stores of gas or preps anywhere near yours. Renders them community helpers not controllers. I might be deluded but I just… Read more »
Ned Fumpkin
Guest

Actually, the Canadian government encorages its citizens to be preppers. They even have a website dedicated to it: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index-eng.aspx and promotes Emergency Preparedness Week (May).

There’s even a ‘share your disaster story’ section on the site.

tman
Guest

That’s cool. I’m a youngin but I remember seeing some old stuff from the cold war telling americans to be prepared. Back when the Government didn’t want you to rely on them.

Super Steve
Guest

Great to see Bruce Beach still going strong, he and I used to correspond between each other in the 90s and 00s before he got arcs 1 & 2 sorted, a genuine nice guy, like most Canucks I’ve met.

Huples
Guest

He’s awesome. A truly selfless guy. It’s nice his grandkids are helping out. I think the Ontario Preppers group is as well but I’m not directly connected to them. They sealed Arc 2 as it violates fire code regulations. Local government decision he’s very unhappy with. Be unsealed in a flash if Russia and USA get hot down in the ME

Oldalaskan
Guest
Interesting article by my Southern Neighbor, to think that the majority of American Preppers have automatic weapons as suggested is totally wrong. Most of us have semi-automatic rifles that by using the correct magazine can and here where I live some are used for hunting. To think that a chicken fence will keep moose from your garden is not quite accurate. The moose here where I live would just knock it down. I have a 6’ chain link fence around my garden and have concerns if it is high enough. I must agree that our growing season is short but… Read more »
Huples
Guest
Thanks for the feedback. I know most of you don’t have Automatic weapons and tanks are but more do as a percentage than in Canada 🙂 The chicken fence if used correctly can stop deer. Not much stops moose! Six foot high chicken fence with another equally high four feet from it (double wall) does stop most but not all deer. Totally agree on the variety that grows north. I can’t say I find corn worth the effort. Rhubarb and berries grow wild down here. As do ground cherries. As I said planting those in waste areas could be useful.… Read more »
Jon
Guest

“designed for hunting rather than killing are usual”.
Thanks for clearing that up!!!!!!!!

Huples
Guest

Hi Jon,
From a none American perspective an awful lot of USA Preppers sites heavily feature guns that are designed for killing people not deer. Just pointing out the differences. Of course hunting rifles will end people as well deer 🙂

CopperOwl
Guest
Great article! My cabin is in an area that is cold (mostly inaccessible) in winter, hot in summer. You mentioned that your cached supplies are “designed to be frozen and reheated.” I’d love it if you’d expand on that idea. I had trouble storing canned goods over winter in the cabin, and with the temperature changes I’m even cautious about freeze-dried food that’s meant to last 20-30 years. Right now most of what I keep there over winter is dry goods (rice, beans, etc.). What do you store that can go through many freeze/thaw cycles without spoilage, and how do… Read more »
Huples
Guest
Thanks. Anything with liquids fails with the 80C temperature swings so freeze dried and dried staples is the way to go. This is what I store there year round. In the spring I drag up some stocks of liquids and tins. I also store seeds up there but bring them back in the late Fall. These get left in the basement which is solid rock and stays cool. However humidity is a huge issue so air tight containers. Burying them in deep ground in the shade, five foot or more, would help regulate the temperature changes but that’s a lot… Read more »
proneshooter nz
Guest
Hey Huples, great article :). It sounds as if there are many parallels between Canada and New Zealand on this subject. Much as our government can be a pain in the butt, come a widespread disaster we will pretty-much be on our own. Like Canada our armed forces are small compared to our population… we won’t be worrying too much about soldiers kicking in our doors and the like. Our FEMA (called Civil Defence) is basically useless in anything other than a small localised event… no secret death-camps down our way! Thankfully for most of N.Z. we have MUCH less… Read more »
Huples
Guest

Thanks Tracy. NZ always a place I plan to visit! Most people have that attitude. It’s a guess but I think our American cousins might have less of it.

Adm Tech
Guest

If you’re lucky enough to be on southern Vancouver Island, the winters are relatively mild by Canadian Standards. Otherwise get a sleeping bag rated for however low it usually goes.

Huples
Guest

Can be very, very, very wet on South Van!
Coastal prepping would be very fish focused with kayak/canoe.
When I was new to Canada I went in one of those wilderness canoe weekend trips. It was Thanksgiving. It froze the lake and a guide got frost bite. Smart advice on the sleeping system!

The Penitent Man
Guest
I visited Canada back in 1994, did some camping at Lake Echo (written in French on the map I had) and it was beautiful. Canadian camp grounds are vastly superior to American camp grounds. In America (not all places of course but the great majority) the camps are right next to each other and are often policed by rangers. In Canada you’re lucky if you even see or hear anyone within a hundred yards. I’m not sure if it’s still like that up there now but I hope so? A buddy and I used a canoe to tour Lake Echo… Read more »
Huples
Guest

There are equally bad camp experiences to be had here. However our Parks tend to be isolated and huge which helps. I can’t imagine trying to sneak into a camp site. I’ve found all park people nothing but really helpful up here. Mind you I vaguely remember reading about some USA park rangers getting murdered. That’d sour things.

The Penitent Man
Guest
I’m sure there are but I bet they’re more uncommon in Canada then here in the states? We have some huge parks also but yours tend to go on into nothingness (the arctic and all), whereas civilization can be found in almost any direction in our parks. That makes a difference. The people are great, the problem tends to be some of the rangers or park policemen. They think they’re going to uncover a terrorist plot in the middle of the freaking woods! They really need to relax and chill out and allow people to enjoy themselves. When you look… Read more »
Iryssa
Guest
“Our food and water stocks cannot really be kept outdoors in the middle of Winter” Actually I would say that that’s only true for water. For food it’s actually beneficial to have our cold, especially as you go further north and don’t experience the freeze-thaw, freeze-thaw thing we get in places like Calgary (where we can get up to +10 in the middle of January if a powerful Chinook blows in). After all, without refrigeration it’ll be tough to keep food cold enough to prevent spoilage. Folks in Florida will definitely have to get more creative than “put the cooler… Read more »
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