The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Eleven snowstorms later and two more still to come before Christmas, an army of snowmen and arsenal of snowforts quickly springing up on what was supposed to be the last day of school before the holidays and had suddenly become the snow day which marked the first of the holidays, and everyone digging out, again, again, again, sharing a weary smile with everyone else who was also digging out or had just finished digging. The dog took one look outside at the white which had erased the steps and retreated back to the doorstep, looking absolutely disgusted.

Is it too late to start building a monument to the autumn snowfall, Ottawa-style?

Luc Guertin of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada built a 17 foot tall, six feet wide, and 30 feet long snow wall in his driveway, winter 2007-8For the first time in thirty years, every part of Canada from the west coast to the east to the north is going to have a white Christmas. Even points as far south as Malibu and Las Vegas, for only the fifth time in seventy years, get to share in all the cold and the white.

Mutual commiseration over a necessary task which is as much part of life in the Great White North as breathing goes surprisingly far toward binding together a community. Up here, snowfall is something to be endured, not cursed. Nothing was moving fast today, flights cancelled, the hundreds of people who had been unable to take advantage of Air Canada's offer for a no-cost ticket exchange to earlier or later flights patiently waiting it out. Thousands of spring bulbs, newly planted, are sleeping under my little corner of snow. The bird feeders are out, the squirrels are learning anew how to make that jump from the tree to the top of the feeder. Brilliant blue jays and blazing red cardinals spark colour against all the white.

Ski hill operators across Canada are ecstatic. (With the possible exception of those running the Blackcomb gondola.) Such a season has not been seen in years. At least this one economic investment, after so many years of struggling, is finally booming. At least one snowboarder on the local news was careful not to reveal identity ("I called in sick").

So many years without proper snowfall, green Christmases, sometimes barely enough snow to cover the grass. Children will remember this winter, what winter can be.


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