If you live in Canada, chances are good that at some point in the last four years — most likely in the coldest depths of winter — an image has crossed your Facebook feed depicting a cartoon alien in a toque, wondering why it lives "where the air hurts my face." 

The simple illustration, created by artist Connor Ullman, enjoys a resurgence in popularity every year, probably because all of us, even the most hardcore winter enthusiasts, have at some point had the exact same thought: why are we living where the air hurts our faces? 

The 10 photos below, captured by members of Canadian Geographic's Photo Club, may help to supply an explanation. Winter, for all its cruelty and capriciousness, can be incredibly beautiful. The pastel hues of a frigid January morning, the fresh snow resting in the branches of an evergreen tree after a storm, the sudden flash of a cardinal's wings in a world of white — these scenes practically define Canada. Is it any wonder photographers are willing to brave the cold to capture them? 

1. Ottawa

How cold does it have to be to stop the Rideau Falls? If you have to ask, you probably don't want to know.

Frozen Rideau Falls, Ottawa, looking toward downtown

Photo: Valentina Tosheva/Can Geo Photo Club

2. Peggys Cove, N.S.

Where were you for the great Bomb Cyclone of 2018? This photographer braved -30 C temperatures and wind gusts up to 100 km/h to capture the storm's aftermath at Peggys Cove. 

Peggys Cove, NS after Bomb Cyclone nor'easter storm 2018

Photo: Marcia Hughes/Can Geo Photo Club

3. Terrebonne, Que. 

Another great thing about winter? It brings beautiful northern creatures, like the migratory snowy owl, further south.

snowy owl in flight, terrebonne Que.

Photo: Jose Albero/Can Geo Photo Club

4. Hamilton, Ont.

This scene is the definition of "Winter Wonderland." 

winter wonderland in Hamilton, Ont

Photo: Garrine Tsang/Can Geo Photo Club

5. Eastend, Sask. 

Made you shiver. 

Cold winter scene in Eastend, Saskatchewan

Photo: Emily Bamforth/Can Geo Photo Club 

6. Wainwright, Alta. 

The deep freeze that hit much of North America at the end of 2017 meant everybody was trying their hand at photographing frozen soap bubbles. The reflected Christmas lights add a pop of colour to this example of the genre:

frozen soap bubble reflecting christmas lights

Photo: Sheri White/Can Geo Photo Club

7. Churchill, Man.

Just a friendly reminder that some creatures in Canada need winter for their very survival!

polar bear on the sea ice, churchill, Man.

Photo: Grace Meens/Can Geo Photo Club

8. Riverview, N.B.

Oof. We can practically feel that frigid headwind. 

Red fox hunting in snow and strong headwinds

Photo: Brittany Crossman/Can Geo Photo Club

9. Seaforth, N.S. 

Nothing like an invigorating, finger-numbing sunrise walk by the sea to start your day!

frigid sunrise, seaforth nova scotia

Photo: Laura Horne/Can Geo Photo Club

10. Toronto

White on white. 

Swan on ice

Photo: Anastasiia Khvostyk/Can Geo Photo Club 

Enter Canadian Geographic's Wildlife Photography of the Year competition