Hey, I know—Let’s create a national snow day!
It eludes me why the federal government hasn’t created a statutory holiday in February, especially when there’s a day like February 3 just crying out to be embraced and celebrated by Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
As it stands now, February 15 is halfway a national holiday, celebrated variously in six provinces — as Islander Day in Prince Edward Island, Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Viola Desmond Day in Nova Scotia and
Social-Conservative Family Day in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. British Columbia (the special child) holds its Family Day on February 8.
So, what’s so special about February 3, you ask? Well, that’s the anniversary of the day, in 1947, when the temperature in at an airstrip in Snag, Yukon, was recorded as reaching an all-time low for all of North America of -63 C.
In 2003, Ned Rozell of the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, spoke to Wilfred “Wilf” Blezard, one of the four weathermen who was there on that day in 1947.
The 82-year-old Blezard told Rozell that he remembered tossing water into the air and watching it freeze into ice pellets before it hit the ground (imagine that!). And how the severe temperature inversion magnified sounds, so that a plane flying some 3 kilometres overhead “sounded like it was in your bedroom”.
Canada abandoned the airstrip at Snag in 1967 so there were no meteorologists there to check the temperature on January 23, 1971 — that’s when Rozell says American weather observers at Prospect Creek, a pipeline camp 25 miles southeast of Bettles, Alaska, recorded that State’s all-time low of -62.2 C.
Next year will be the 70th anniversary of the Snag record, so we may at least get a commemorative coin or something (it would make a fabulous Ice Capades show but unfortunately those are also a thing only to be remembered).
Otherwise, a national holiday marking such a cold day would naturally resonate with most every Canadian. After all, it’s not uncommon for many of our cities to hit -50 C in wintertime. Even Toronto woke up to a day half as cold as the Snag record 1981. And Vancouver’s lowest-ever temperature, of -12.9 C, recorded in 1985, probably felt like -63 C, the way we Vancouverites like dress in the winter.
The hardest thing about making it a national holiday may be coming up with a good name — “Coldest Day”, “Winter Day”, “63/47” — none of that exactly rolls off the tongue. Perhaps it could be put to the Canadian people in the form of an online contest.
A day to give the gift of…snow
I envision this national celebration of the coldest day ever in Canada as a day for all Canadians to really revel and frolic in the snow and cold as only Canadians know how. Of course, the few snow-deprived parts of the country, like the communities on the South Coast of British Columbia, may need a little symbolic help in order to participate, from those parts of Canada, blessed with an over abundance of the stuff.
As you may know, elected members of Parliament have so-called franking privileges under the Canada Post Corporation Act, aka “Government Mail Free of Postage“, which allows regular mail to be freely sent between MPs and ordinary Canadians.
What I’m suggesting is that people in snow-rich communities across Canada could bring big boxes of the white stuff to their MPs, who would then mail it off to the snow-poor parts of the country in time to arrive the night before the big national holiday.
What a snow-riffic idea, huh? Like a fun kind of provincial transfer payment.
Some sticklers for rules will probably argue that big boxes of snow do not constitute regular mail but that’s surely a negotiable point. This is for national unity after all.
Admittedly, the exercise might only allow a relative handful of citizens in places like Vancouver and Victoria to throw a few snowballs but I still think that would still be a better use of the franking privileges than the sending out of the usual snow job of thinly disguised campaign literature. Click the images to enlarge them.