Ask Alicia – Where Is Our Winter?

Dear Alicia,

I’m one of those people who actually loves snow and I am missing our beautiful white Canadian winters…which got me to thinking about the blizzard of 1977. I’m sure most people who were around at that time will remember it. But I was also wondering, are there any other recorded snow storms that were as bad or worse than that?

From,

Hoping For Snow


Dear Hoping For Snow,

You’re not the only one hoping for a winter wonderland. I am really missing the sunny days, bright blue skies and scenes of crisp winter white.

Lots of people talk about the legendary “Blizzard of ‘77” and those who were living in St. Catharines at that time usually have a story to tell about the escapades they experienced. In fact, there is a great book written on the event called: “White Death: Blizzard of ‘77” by Erno Rossi.

I did a little digging and found that there have been many significant winter weather events in the region over the years including the ice jam in the Niagara River in 1938 that brought down Niagara Falls View Bridge (a.k.a. Honeymoon Bridge).

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Niagara Falls View Bridge collapsed onto frozen Niagara River below, 1938. Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Standard Collection, St. Catharines Museum, S1938.21.1.3

One that really caught my attention was another blizzard that buried St. Catharines, however it is not as well known. Believe it or not, it occurred on March 17th, 1936.  Snow started falling at 1a.m. and by the time it stopped a record 66 centimeters fell.  People dubbed it: “The Luck of the Irish”.  It was reportedly the worst blizzard to hit the Niagara Region since 1900.

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Taylor & Bate truck buried in snow after blizzard of 1936. Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Museum, N9754

Roads were blocked off so that people from surrounding municipalities could not get in or out of St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland or even Hamilton. There were snow drifts well over two metres high which forced hundreds of people to abandon their cars on the outskirts of the city. Sleighs were used to rescue passengers from stranded buses. Even snow plows got buried in the drifts. The roof of the Fort Erie arena collapsed and shoveled mounds of snow along sidewalks towered over people’s shoulders, forming snow tunnels!

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Men cleaning up Hwy 8 after St. Patrick’s Day blizzard – March 22, 1936. Photo Attributoin: John Burtniak, St. Catharines Museum, 2006.77.1417

If you think a blizzard near the end of March is bad, in 1940 there was a snowstorm that may have been inconvenient but left picturesque snowy scenes in spring!

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Beautiful scene after April snow storm, 1940. Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Standard Collection, St. Catharines Museum S1940.32.1.3
Needless to say, if there was once a blizzard on St. Patrick’s Day and a winter wonderland in spring, there’s still hope for some winter weather in St. Catharines.

Note to readers: This is the final Ask Alicia blog post. Thank you again to all of my readers. Stay tuned in two weeks for my new blog series: “A Walk Around Town” which is a throwback to a series of articles written by Junius for the St. Catharines Journal newspaper in the mid 1800’s.

 

 

 

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