Use your ears. OK, Let me explain that.
But first things first. The direction of the wind is what we call “downwind”. If I throw a handful of white flour into the wind, the direction that flour travels is “downwind”.
The breeze picks up the scent of nearly everything it touches and carries that scent along wherever it goes. Like the white flour, but on a scale so small that you can’t see it, the smell of nearly everything on your person and in your camp is picked up and carried on the wind. Any animal passing downwind from your camp then knows everything that is in your camp, just by smell (if its sniffer is sensitive enough – and a bear’s is).
So, you are exactly right. Store your food at least 100 feet downwind from your camp. If a bear is attracted to your camp, he will most likely be tempted by your food, so keeping it far from you will help keep you safe. Hopefully, the canister will do its job and keep your food safe.
Generally, the wind blows different directions throughout the day, because of terrain and changes in temperature. At night, temperatures even out and cool and air movements usually settle down, becoming slow and steady (no hot, moving sun in the sky to heat up the air). Therefore, if you don’t know the prevailing night-time wind directions in your area, it would be best to check the direction of air movement after the sun goes down (assuming there are no storms stirring things up).
As air cools, it sinks, flowing downhill. If you are backpacking in hilly or mountainous areas, rest assured that the breeze will be blowing downhill during the night (unless there is a storm). If one is near the ocean (I know, you stated that you are inland), then the wind should blow out to sea when the sun is down (I live far, far inland, so I have not experienced this, but that’s what I was taught in school).
Here is the best way that I have found to discover the direction of the breeze near my camp (Using my ears):
Wait until dusk, that calming, shadowy time between sundown and full dark. Walk in a wide circle around your camp (20-30 feet out will do), stopping several times to test the direction of the air currents. To test the direction of the air currents, simply uncover your head, face and neck, and turn slowly. The fine hairs on your cheeks, and especially your ears, can feel the breeze (even a very soft breeze). When you feel the breeze blowing across the fine hairs on your cheeks and both ears, stop. You are facing UPwind. DOWNwind is directly behind you. Sampling the wind like this in a circle around your camp helps you make a very confident assessment of the wind’s direction. If the breeze is gentle and erratic, you may have to make a couple circles, and even then, you may have to guess a little. However, it’s ok if you don’t get it exactly right, as long as you place/hang your food far from camp. The goal is to place your food in such a way that it does not lure a bear into your camp.