Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A woman dressed as a hot dog plunges into an icy pond during the annual polar bear dip in Calgary, Monday.

Nova Scotia kicks off New Year’s Day polar bear dips in spite of extreme cold

HALIFAX — Organizers cancelled two New Year’s Day polar bear dips in Ontario because of the frigid temperatures, but not even a layer of ice could stop hundreds of people from plunging into the freezing waters of Herring Cove, N.S.

Just hours before it was scheduled to begin, organizers of the Courage Polar Bear Dip in Oakville, Ont., announced they were calling off the event because of “significant” ice and rock movement that would have made the plunge unsafe.

They said it was the first time in 33 years the event had been cancelled.

Toronto organizers cancelled their New Year’s Day plunge on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the dip outside Halifax was only delayed a few minutes while a boat chipped away at a sheet of ice covering the cove.

But once the water was cleared, 83-year-old Arnie Ross took the inaugural leap with “2018” scrawled across his chest.

The crowd chanted his name as Ross clawed up the icy ladder. He said the water was every bit as refreshing as it had been for his past 21 jumps.

“Twenty-two years,” he exclaimed, flexing his muscles for the crowd.

Robert Garnier said he has braved snowstorms, pounding surf and biting winds in his 27 years taking the plunge, a New Year tradition he said he inherited from his late father.

“He said, ‘How you live this day is how you live the rest of your year,’” said Garnier. “I start it with a bang and look at it like a rebirth, if you will, or a baptism to 2018.”

About 250 jumpers followed the octogenarian into the ice-cold water, organizers said, including children as young as 10, international students and burly men donning Hawaiian skirts and kilts.

In spite of extreme cold warnings issued by Environment Canada that cover much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and southern Quebec, many events were scheduled to go ahead.

Swimmers in Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria also took the plunge.

Just Posted

Grassroots movement to clean up Red Deer is gaining momentum

Homeless people need more attention than shopping carts, says former councillor Cindy Jefferies

Improving life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families is a priority for Raitt

The federal Conservatives deputy leader is dealing with the disease in her own home

PHOTO: International Peace Day

Visitors broke bread, made crafts and trading cards at a gathering marking… Continue reading

Snowfall warning issued for Central Alberta

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Central Alberta Friday afternoon. Warning… Continue reading

POLL: Most Red Deerians don’t want cell phones in the classroom

Sixty-six per cent of Advocate readers who responded to an on-line poll… Continue reading

Updated: Grey Cup in Red Deer to raise funds for military families

Money raised will go to the Military Family Resource Centre and be used locally

Saskatchewan RCMP charge man in abduction that sparked Amber Alert last Sunday

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Saskatchewan RCMP have arrested a man following an… Continue reading

One dead following police-involved shooting in Burlington, Ont.

BURLINGTON, Ont. — Ontario’s police watchdog says a 32-year-old man was shot… Continue reading

Several injured as Tornado tears through Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

OTTAWA — A tornado ripped through the Ottawa area Friday afternoon, damaging… Continue reading

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

VANCOUVER — Clearing or burning beetle ravaged forests may be costly but… Continue reading

Dustin Byfuglien scores in overtime, Jets beat Flames 4-3 in pre-season

WINNIPEG — Bryan Little tied the game late in the third and… Continue reading

Mistrial denied in Calgary murder trial over jury’s visit to hotel Denny’s

CALGARY — A Calgary judge has denied a request for a mistrial… Continue reading

Former Canadian astronaut says space shuttle is a vehicle of hope

OTTAWA — Sending messages of hope from space is a big part… Continue reading

Canada requests trade panel on uncoated groundwood paper ruling by U.S.

OTTAWA — Canada has requested a NAFTA trade panel review a U.S.… Continue reading

Most Read