September is the beginning of fall, but it can still get surprisingly hot. Early September is subject to heat waves in Canada, and late September cools down.
I’ve lived in Canada my entire life, which means I can tell you about Canada any time of year, not just during the peak tourist season in summer.
If you want to avoid the tourist season altogether and also want to avoid winter weather, September might be the right time for you!
This article will help you prepare for a September trip to Canada. We will discuss:
- The weather
- What to pack
- How busy it gets
- What to do
- Places to see
Resources for September | Hotels – Rental Cars – Tours
While the crowds mostly dissipate in September, it’s still necessary to plan ahead and book your accommodation AND rental cars well in advance if you want to save money:
🚗 Rental cars via rentalcars.com
🚙 Rental car deals via Discover Cars
🏠 Great Canada Hotel Deals via booking.com
🛖 Hotel Search for Canada via Expedia
🛣️ Canada Travel Guides (via Amazon)
💊 Travel Insurance (Rental Car, Delays, Medical)
All of these links open in a new tab. They are incredibly useful for your Canada trip.
The Best Tours and Activities in September
Is September a Good Time?
September is a good time to avoid crowds in Canada. There are many things to do, but the weather can vary, so pack many different things to wear. However, it’s still tolerably warm, so you shouldn’t worry about the bitter cold.
Admittedly, September is a bit all over the place weather-wise. Even locals find September temperatures somewhat unpredictable at times. That’s why it’s best to be prepared for a few different climates.
Canadian weather in September can be as warm as 73°F (23°C) or as cool as 21°F (-6°C). Temperature changes can happen quickly. Some provinces stay more consistent than others, while others are warmer. The average monthly precipitation is 3″ (77 mm). Although it could snow, rain is more likely.
In some regions, it almost feels like summer jumps directly into winter during September. In 2018, Manitoba saw temperatures averaging between 69 – 82°F (21 – 28°C) early in the month, and then on September 22, it started snowing.
Morning/Evening vs. Daytime: No matter the season, mornings and evenings are always slightly cooler than the daytime. Even if you’re heading over in hot early September, bring a cardigan or light jacket for cool nights.
You might even want to bring a thicker sweater, gloves, and a coat for mid-to-late September. More clothing tips later.
💡 Cool nights can be between 21 and 48°F (-6 and 9°C).
As mentioned, September weather varies, but some places stay consistently warmer. Here are a couple of examples.
Vancouver, Toronto, and Alberta usually stay consistently warm in September. These areas also don’t experience the same shocking variation that happens in other regions. However, western Ontario and eastern Alberta near the borders may get similar unpredictable climates.
Toronto, Ontario, is Canada’s biggest city, meaning there is a lot for a tourist to do.
It averages about 62 – 73°F (17 – 23°C) daily. Visit the iconic CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, or Hockey Hall of Fame.
We’ll give tips for great activities in Vancouver and Banff, Alberta, later in this article.
Comparatively, some places get winter-like in September without the early month’s heat.
Nunavut, Churchill, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories cool down earlier in September and stay cool. September temperatures in these areas barely exceed 50°F (10°C), and snowfall is likely. Despite the cooler climate, these regions are incredibly beautiful. They’re some of the best places in the world to catch the northern lights.
Churchill, Manitoba, is a bucket-list destination for many adventurous tourists. If you can handle the cold, it’s truly a memorable experience. September may only be 37 – 48°F (3 – 9°C), but it’s nice that there are no bugs.
July to November is the peak season for polar bears. If you want to see the bears in the snow, go in September, October, or November.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, and Manitoba get the most unpredictable temperatures in September. These cities are textbook examples of early September heat waves followed by late September snowfalls.
Let’s compare the early September temperatures to the late September temperatures in both cities in 2022. We’ll compare what it hit on the hottest day of the month and the coldest.
- Saskatoon: 95°F (35°C) on September 7th vs. 30°F (-1°C) on September 21st
- Winnipeg: 87°F (31°C) on September 1st vs. 44°F (7°C) on September 27th
If you’re staying all month or going to one of these cities in mid-September, these temperatures can make it difficult to pack.
Yet, locals thrive in these extremes every year, so there certainly are ways to prepare. Layers are key, so I suggest wearing sweaters and jackets with summery clothing underneath. Don’t let the extremes scare you away if you plan a September trip.
As a Winnipegger, I think there’s something quite beautiful about crystalline frost on colorful fall leaves.
The sparkling white dust from late September snow accents the fall colors, and September’s coldest temperatures are still manageable. As long as you come prepared, you will still enjoy your fall trip.
Here are the average high temperatures (daytime) in various Canadian cities from early to late September:
- Whitehorse (Yukon): 59 – 48°F (15 – 9°C)
- Vancouver: 69 – 61°F (21 – 16°C)
- Banff: 66 – 56°F (19 – 13°C)
- Toronto: 73 – 63°F (23 – 17°C)
- Montréal: 74 – 63°F (23-17°C)
- Québec City: 72 – 61°F (22 – 16°C)
- Halifax: 71 – 63°F (21 – 17°C)
Is September Too Cold?
Most of Canada isn’t too cold in September. On average, the coolest September sees in Canada is 21°F (-6°C). However, it’s usually much warmer than that. You might be surprised to learn that early September can actually be very hot, especially on the prairies.
For instance, Regina, Saskatchewan, was 95°F (35°C) on September 1st, 2022. Striking heat waves like that only happen early in the month. Although, it can get cold enough for light snow in late September.
September can be a wet month in Canada. The country usually sees approximately 3” (77 mm) of monthly precipitation. Snow is possible, but rain is more likely. Depending on where you go, you might see anywhere from 9 to 13 days of rain.
The wettest destination in September is Vancouver, British Columbia, and the driest is Calgary, Alberta. Here are the rainfall averages in each city.
- Vancouver: 1.9” – 7.6” (48 – 193 mm)
- Calgary: 0.6” – 1.5” (16 – 40 mm)
There is some snow in Canada in September. Late September snowfalls are light and only last a few days to a week. There’s usually one brief period of snow in the fall that eventually melts, but the long-lasting winter snow doesn’t hit until mid-to-late November.
💡 The warmer parts of Canada won’t get snow in September.
However, Alberta does get September snowfalls despite being one of the more consistently warm areas in the country. Fall snow is light, and September can warm up, so it usually only lasts a few days.
For example, Calgary usually only gets 0.7” (2 cm) of snow in September.
Sunshine (Daylight Hours)
Canada’s daylight hours start noticeably decreasing in September. The north’s “Midnight Sun” period ends, and the south gets earlier sunsets. Late September is when the difference is really noticeable. Early September still has longer days, like summer.
For a northern trip, September is a great time. You don’t have to deal with 24 hours of sunlight or the harsh winter. The last day of the “Midnight Sun” period depends on where you go.
Here is a list of when the Midnight Sun ends in each northern region that gets it.
- Northwest Territories: August 13
- Nunavut: July 20
- Yukon: late August or early September
- Northern Manitoba: late July
What To Wear | What To Pack
September climates vary, so you should pack clothing for almost any type of weather.
Be ready to wear almost anything in Canada in September. You may encounter blazing heat, snow, or heavy rainfall.
For a trip during September in Canada pack your summer clothes like shorts and t-shirts, and warm layers, like thick sweaters and gloves. You won’t need to wear a heavy parka, but you may need more than a light jacket.
To save on suitcase space, research your destination and favor clothing that fits its most frequent temperature. For example, if traveling to warmer Vancouver, prioritize lighter clothing, but don’t leave your warm clothing behind.
Bugs: May to September is Canada’s mosquito season. However, there are significantly fewer of them in September, and they’re almost gone by late September. Ticks are another issue because they don’t disappear in the fall, unlike mosquitoes. The same bug spray that works against mosquitoes also works against ticks, so be sure to pack it.
Bugs are less of a problem if you’re traveling somewhere urban. Rural and backcountry areas are where they’re more of an issue.
Tip: Campfires are a great way to keep bugs away while keeping yourself warm. The smell of smoke repels insects, and the warm, thick air around your fire is uncomfortable for them to fly in.
Mud: September gets muddy fast. Bring rubber boots and protective clothing to prepare for the mud, especially on hiking trails.
Heat waves: Like late August, early September gets scorching heat waves. Pack sunscreen, loose-fitting clothing, sunglasses, and a handheld fan if you hit one. I also strongly recommend carrying a water bottle to prevent dehydration.
Here’s a packing list for Canada in September. Please note that regional climates can vary, so prioritize items that fit your destination’s weather.
Early September Packing List
- Short-sleeved shirts
- Shorts, skirts, or skorts
- Light jackets
- Sturdy walking shoes and sandals
- Water bottles
- A handheld fan or mister
Late September Packing List
- Fleece tops
- Cotton t-shirts
- Knit sweaters
- Moisture-wicking socks
- Windbreaking, fall jacket
- Stocking caps
- Long pants
- Water-resistant shoes
- Longjohns or long underwear if you’re camping
Anytime in September Packing List
- Rain gear
- Bug spray
- Anything easy to layer
Crowds | How Busy Is It?
Tourist season is over by September, so the crowds won’t be as thick as they are in the summer in any major tourist destination. There won’t be as many locals on the streets because students are back in school.
Good to know: The first Monday of September is a Canadian federal holiday. Crowds might be busier, and businesses might be closed on that day.
Most of Canada is slower in September, but, Toronto is the exception.
Toronto Crowds: The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) attracts 480,000+ attendees every year. Many of these guests are world-famous celebrities, so security gets tighter, and fans crowd the streets. As a result, September is actually one of Toronto’s peak tourist times.
It’s also a good idea to consider your destination’s local population. For example, September isn’t peak tourist season in Montréal, but it may still feel crowded in certain areas. Montréal’s population is 1.7 million, so there will always be activity regardless of tourists.
It’s always a good idea to book in advance no matter where or when you travel. Even if it’s a slower season, random events, like weddings or conferences, can take up space at your hotel.
Things To Do | Places To Visit | Fall Color Viewing
September may have fewer tourists, but there’s still plenty to do. Check out any of these destinations to soak up Canada without the crowds or frigid cold.
Canadian Rockies / Banff & Jasper National Park
Fall in the Canadian Rockies is gorgeous. The sprawling yellow and orange trees stand against the white mountains and deep evergreens. However, many of Banff’s summer staples are closed for the season by September. Some trails also close early because trails at higher elevations get snowed out.
You want to visit Banff’s listing on Parks Canada to observe seasonal closures.
September 20th to October 5th is typically when Banff’s larch trees change color. Larch trees are unique, so people flock to see them every season. They look like evergreen pine trees but change color like leafy trees. This phenomenon only lasts a few weeks before they shed their needles for the winter. The days can vary, but it’s always late September.
Banff’s townsite is fantastic all year round.
Lower temperatures might not be ideal patio season, but you can still enjoy food and drinks from any of Banff’s iconic breweries.
Vancouver stays warm throughout September. If you want a fall trip without the extreme temperature dip, it’s a great choice. However, you won’t get the same fall colors as elsewhere because Vancouver’s trees are different, so they don’t become as vibrant.
Locals use September as the time to get as much sunshine as possible before winter. Take advantage of the numerous trails around the area, including:
- Baden Powell Trail
- Stanley Park
- Porteau Cove
- Alice Lake
Check out the Chilliwack Corn Maze at Greendale Acres for some fall fun.
The corn maze opens in mid-August and stays open throughout September and October. The maze gets a new theme and layout every year with fun additions. For example, the theme was science in 2022. The maze featured a giant T. Rex statue leading to a chicken, representing Theropoda’s evolution.
Vancouver has much to offer if you’d rather stick to the city. September features lots of back-to-school sales, so the shopping is fantastic. The Vancouver Museum and Vancouver Art Gallery are both great stops while you’re there.
Early fall is also the best time to visit Maplewood Farm. Pony rides are available until the end of October, and the pastoral atmosphere feels extra cozy in autumn.
The fall colors add vibrancy to Montréal’s European architecture, which you can enjoy in any of the city’s urban greenspaces. These areas are free, plentiful, and always teeming with activity.
On certain days, you may catch a show in the park.
When I lived in Montréal, one of my favorite urban hikes was Parc du Mont-Royal. Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer behind New York’s Central Park, designed Mont Royal, so you know you’re in for a treat. Locals often refer to the park simply as “the mountain.”
If you hear people refer to “the mountain,” that’s what they mean.
I love how you can get almost anywhere in downtown Montréal on foot. From Mont Royal, it’s an easy walk to Old Montréal, downtown shopping, and any of the city’s famous restaurants. Fall is the time for hot cocoa, pumpkin spice lattes, and apple cider.
Montréal has plenty of local cafes that serve delicious fall drinks.
Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy cools off in the fall, but it’s still worth a trip. The tides are relatively low in September, so you can glimpse more of the ocean floor. The Bay always has higher and lower times each day, but the lows are lower in September.
Whale watching: Bay of Fundy’s whale watching season lasts from June to October, so it’s not too late to see these majestic giants in September. August is the best month for whales, but they’re still quite active in early September.
Possible sightings in the area include:
- Humpback whales
- Minke whales
- Finback whales
- Pilot whales
They’re not as common as in British Columbia, but the Maritimes also get orcas. Orcas are less likely than the previously listed species, although one can be seen.
Thrillseekers and history buffs alike will love Cape Enrage Lighthouse. Explore the history of New Brunswick’s oldest lighthouse, enjoy a spectacular view of the Bay, or dash across it on a 600 ft (182 m) zipline.
Seeing the falls is spectacular any time of year. In September, the region teems with fall fairs and the famous Niagara Wine Festival. On weekdays in September, the crowds are particularly thin thanks to the back-to-school season.
Niagara’s iconic boat tours slow down by mid-to-late September, but there’s still plenty to do in the area. One of my favorite lesser-known spots is the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory. The park is home to over 2,000 butterflies of 45 different species.
September isn’t too cold for them yet, and they look especially pretty against the vibrant colors of fall.
The Rockies are popular but not Canada’s only mountain range.
Just north of Montréal, Québec’s Laurentian mountain range has all the beauty of the Rockies and its own unique charm. Sticking with the province’s European feel, the Laurentians offer a Nordic-style experience with spas, gourmet foods, and Scandinavian cottages.
Like Banff, fall leaves add color to this already beautiful landscape.
Although the resort is more well-known for its skiing, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking, are available before the snow hits the ground.
- Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF): The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in the world. It’s second only to Cannes regarding high-profile screenings and A-list guests that usually occur in the first week of September after Labor Day.
- Vancouver Fringe Festival: The Vancouver Fringe Festival is the largest live theatre event in British Columbia. In early September, hundreds of performers take the stage in front of an audience of thousands. Best of all, the performers receive 100% of the revenue from box office sales.
- Niagara Wine Festival: September Niagara Wine Festival is one of many wine festivals at Niagara Falls. The event features over 100 wine-tasting events, vineyard tours, concerts, and one of the largest street parades in Canada.
- Les Premiers Vendredis: Les Premiers Vendredis (“First Fridays” in English) happen in Montréal on the first Friday of the month from June to October. So, there is a September edition, and it’s the largest food truck event in Canada. Over 50 food trucks and restauranteurs sell their dishes in Montréa’s Olympic Park.