February 23rd, 2024

Canadians across country expected to celebrate New Year’s Day with polar bear swim

By The Canadian Press on January 1, 2024.

People participate in the annual New Years Day Polar Bear Dip in Oakville, Ont., on Sunday, January 1, 2023. Hundreds of Canadians are planning to put the old year on ice by ushering 2024 in with a polar bear swim, though perhaps in smaller numbers than in New Years Days past.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey

Hundreds of Canadians are planning to put the old year on ice by ushering 2024 in with a polar bear swim, though perhaps in smaller numbers than in New Years Days past.

The tradition of swimming in lakes, oceans and other bodies of water made chilly by January’s Canadian temperatures dates back more than a century.

New Year’s Day polar plunges have been taking place in Vancouver since at least 1920, and other British Columbia cities like Delta, Sydney and Kelowna are all planning to host events today.

Most events, such as one scheduled in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, Ont., are intended to raise funds for charitable causes.

Similar swims are on tap in locations including Toronto, Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown.

But polar dips were among the many events cancelled over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many long-standing swims have yet to resume after the hiatus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 1, 2024.

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