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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

25 Comments

  1. Bolofia

    December 13, 2015 at 12:31 am

    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

      December 13, 2015 at 10:07 am

      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

        January 29, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        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 for clean water, brooks ect.. We have naturally growing apple trees, sunflowers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and black berries. Our soil is good for planting veggies. As long as the ocean, lakes and brooks have fish so will we. We have rabbits, garden snakes and birds in abundance, we even have too many moose and deer at the moment in this area. We certainly will not starve to death. So we have shelter, heat, water and food right in our backyards.. not much point in going anywhere if the grid goes down. My biggest fear in that situation is actually the AK-47 happy Americans coming this way.. then again, we can shoot birds from the sky and drop moose with one bullet so I doubt the guys with AKs would get too far once they cross the border.. I personally would never hurt anyone, I would let them rob me before I would ever cause another person harm but not everyone is this way.

    • ChrisD

      December 17, 2015 at 3:40 am

      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 is from beaver, bear and mink, you need at least a 3-4 cultivated acres to sustain a small family for veggies, grains and fruits.

      For example, wheat and oat yield only 3-4 bushels/acre/year in Canada, except southern Ontario and Quebec. Chickens are good choices for proteins (meat and eggs), as long as you got proper feed for them. So not clear cut, depends on everybody’s different situation ie “where you live in Canada.” If you ever migrate there in anycase, never eat a cariboo for protein, they take more calories to digest than they provide 😉

      • Huples

        December 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm

        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 🙂

  2. tman

    December 13, 2015 at 3:14 am

    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

      December 13, 2015 at 10:13 am

      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 cannot see door to door gun searches happening up here on anything but an individual scale

    • Ned Fumpkin

      December 17, 2015 at 9:34 am

      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

        December 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

        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.

  3. Super Steve

    December 13, 2015 at 8:29 am

    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

      December 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

      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

  4. Oldalaskan

    December 13, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    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 with some effort you can increase the length by a week or two on
    either end. I was fortunate enough to come into a quantity of 2’ and 1’ PVC
    piping so when spring comes I will try to utilize it and construct a greenhouse
    of sorts.

    Root crops and Brassicas (Cabbage
    family) grow quite well here. My garden has Potatoes, Turnips (moose love
    them), Lettuce, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Beans, Peas, Carrots, this year Zucchini
    were plentiful as were my Raspberries and Rhubarb. Here where I live with care
    Tomatoes, Green Peppers and other slightly more delicate crops. This summer I
    will make a concerted effort to grow Sweet Corn. The biggest limiting factor on
    growing corn here is the temperature of the ground and water used for
    irrigation.

    • Huples

      December 13, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      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. Peppers grow well down here. Ground temps are warm during the Summer so farming is easier and water is easily obtained.
      I’m guessing Alaskans like northern Canada have wood powered homes and lots of back ups. Not so in the tropical south around Toronto!
      Be cool to see an Alaskan article!

  5. Jon

    December 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm

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

    • Huples

      December 21, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      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 🙂

  6. CopperOwl

    December 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    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 you do it? Thanks!

    • Huples

      December 15, 2015 at 12:32 am

      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 of work.
      The only way around the food storage is a decent root cellar which needs some heating in the Winter. That’s why I’m using mine for small scale issues or only as a Summer camp during a large issue.
      Cans will store as will glass cans but spoilage will happen faster and there’s a real risk of breakage especially if the temperature is upped too quickly.
      As far as I know freeze dried will be fine but maybe not for the full 20-30 years. I’ve a stock that’s been there three years. Again in the basement on rock. I’d be less happy if full heat hit them rather than the full cold.
      When I cache I use air tight plastic thick containers with about one inch separation between the individual items in there. Bubble wrap or paper packing (newspapers or better yet the crinkly cardboard filler) is used to keep them separated but allows expansion in heat and might help moderate the rise.
      I’d also be keen on hearing others thoughts on this area as I’m not an expert at all!

  7. proneshooter nz

    December 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    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 snow to worry about but in winter there are quite a few areas prone to flooding in heavy rains.

    As with Canada bushcraft skills will be the most invaluable to have as we have a lot of bush/forest with a good range of game to be hunted: many species of deer, pigs, goats, rabbits and even possums for when you get REALLY hungry 🙁 plus fish in the streams and on the coast.

    The thing that is REALLY going against us a a nation is what we call the “she’ll be right” mentality. This basically says, “bad stuff MIGHT happen to others but it wont to me…and even if it might I’ll deal with it by pretending it wont”

    Well this is one Kiwi who doesn’t think like that!

    All the best eh?
    Tracy

    • Huples

      December 16, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      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.

  8. Adm Tech

    December 16, 2015 at 1:32 am

    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

      December 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      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!

  9. The Penitent Man

    December 16, 2015 at 8:57 am

    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 and it was beautiful. We stopped off on a small island and swam and bathed in the sun. After journeying many miles back to our campsite we hit a country store some 25 miles from the campsite. We bought what appeared to be Moose meat and some fresh fillet of sole. I collected some onions, garlic, tomatoes, butter, salt and pepper and a lemon to prepare the fish. I used a tin pie plate and some tin foil to cook the fish and vegetables on the coals of our fire. We hung the seasoned meat from sticks over our fire and roasted the sausages directly on the coals (damn if those French Canadians don’t make an amazing Italian sausage!).

    It was one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. I recall hearing the sounds of some crazy bird while we finished our meal near the fire. It was a beautiful place and the forest was alive with the soothing sounds of nature.

    After leaving Canada and returning to the United States I was very disappointed with the way our government manages our public lands. I missed the Canadian wilderness and the awesome little country store that had sold us the fresh fish and the meats and sausages. I ate like a king in Canada, in the U.S. I ate like a pauper, it was difficult to get anything better then fast food or normal groceries in the U.S.

    I was camping (on my return trip from Canada) somewhere near the White mountains in New Hampshire or Vermont (can’t remember which) when I met a Canadian man who was leading a group of Canadian children on a camping trip in the U.S.. He was shocked at the lack of privacy in the U.S. camps and how everyone was packed together in such small area like sardines. He said it defeated the purpose of going camping and I agreed. I told him about my trip to Canada and how his country’s camps were vastly superior to ours.

    I really miss Canada. The United States has only gotten worse since then. The last camping trip I went on was more like an outdoor prison camp then the relaxing experience a camping trip is supposed to be. Two park rangers tried sneaking up on our camp in the middle of the night. I was sitting at a picnic bench when I noticed a faint red glow, maybe two or three hundred feet away. Then the glow just disappeared. I reasoned it out that it had to be two morons using red-rimmed plastic flashlights and they were trying to sneak up on my and my friends.

    I warned everyone that we were about to be visited by the park rangers. As soon as I realized they had to be fairly close I spoke up in a loud voice and said, “How’s it going guys!” and low and behold, about thirty or forty feet away, two red-rimmed flashlights clicked on and the rangers appeared out of the brush. They basically tried to interrogate us and asked us if we were doing drugs or anything else that was illegal. It was ridiculous. You can’t even camp out in the woods without the police state investigating you and asking you for your papers!

    That was the last time I went camping in my own country, sadly.

    • Huples

      December 16, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      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

        December 16, 2015 at 5:50 pm

        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 for trouble you’ll eventually find it.

        When I was up at Lake Echo a little French guy ran the place. I never did see anyone “official” at all. Maybe he was the ranger? Either way he didn’t speak any English and he was super cool. He didn’t even charge us for the canoe even though we were gone hours longer then we had expected. I just like how people seem to be friendlier in Canada.

        Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good people in the U.S. but things have changed for the worse. People are more suspicious of each other then they used to be. People are afraid, they don’t talk with one another like they used to. It’s really a shame.

  10. Iryssa

    March 31, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    “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 out in the snow.”* Having ice will be a dang luxury.

    *A hyperbolic expression of the ease of it. Don’t forget to take into account wildlife and the size of food storage you’d need. But a good root cellar can be built with little more than arm-power, a salvaged door, rocks and a shovel, for example, and it can easily keep things well below the 4C recommended for meat and dairy.

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