Pioneer life was not as glamourous as it looked in Meek's Cutoff.
Wait, pioneer life looked AWFUL in that movie. Dehydrated and AWFUL.
So, yes, it got suddenly very cold in the Canadian prairie region where I live. But let's keep this in perspective:
Today (January 17, 2012) the temperature was -32 Celsius (-25 Fahrenheit)
On February 1, 1893, it was -50 Celsius/ -58 Fahrenheit
Really, we're fine. Think about those poor 1893 people, being like, "I'll just smash this block of ice on the wash basin to wash my face, then head out to milk the cows' frozen teats, all while wearing my pantaloons and a corset."
Grace Kelly in High Noon reflects my sort of pioneer glam style.
Doesn't look particularly warm, though. Not with those 3/4-length sleeves.
Keeping warm in the cold, 1893 Saskatoon settlers style
1) Layer your clothing. Why spend $500 on a fancy parka when you can just put on three or four sweaters, an outer jacket, three or four hats, and some mittens on top of your regular clothes? Or, you know, just layer a fleece and a sweater inside of a jacket.
2) Go underground. Pioneers lived in sod houses, which, being partially underground, kept them out of the cold. (*Note: I think this is similar to how people stay warm in igloos - being out of the wind, etc.)
3) They wore fur between their clothes and their coats, like a lining of extra warmth. Since fur isn't cheap (or entirely ethical, really) I suggest wrapping a blanket and/or fluffy towel between your clothes and coat.
Sully from Dr Quinn Medicine Woman keeps warm in the winter with HIS HOTNESS.
What happened to this guy? Seriously, why is he not playing like, a hot werewold Pepaw on True Blood?
4) They heated up rocks in the fire, then wrapped them in blankets and put them at the foot of the bed. If you, like me, worry about lighting an open fire, then try a hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel. Or, if you have a microwave, go with a Magic Bag!
5) Petticoats, apparently, kept your legs warm. Layers and layers of fabric cocooning your legs. So I say, bring back petticoats! Or just wear fleece-lined tights or Smartwool thermal leggings and/or ski pants on top.
6) Luuuurve. Seriously, body heat helps keep you warm so snuggle up to your lov-ah, ideally under a feather-stuffed duvet (pioneers used feather-stuffed blankets to keep warm).
Dr Mike and Sully know what I'm talking about.
Sweet, sweet pioneer luuuurve. (Call me, Sully!)