45 years ago, 'storm of the century' hits Quebec

It was coined the ‘storm of the century’ and for Quebecers who are old enough to remember March 4, 1971, it was a day they have never forgotten.

Some parts of the province walloped by 47 cm of snow on March 4, 1971

It was coined the 'storm of the century' and for Quebecers who are old enough to remember March 4, 1971, it was a day they have never forgotten.

It was 45 years ago today that parts of the province were buried under 47 centimetres of snow. Winds gusted up to 110 kilometres per hour, causing blowing snow and low visibility.

In Montreal, 43.2 centimetres of snow fell.

CBC Montreal asked for your memories and photos, and got vivid recollections.

"I remember this storm like it was yesterday ! I was 11 years old & living on 9th Avenue in St-Michel," Angela Randisi wrote on CBC Montreal's Facebook page. "The day after was a most glorious sunny day with a blue sky that was crystal clear & all you could hear were the birds chirping - it was literally the calm after the storm. The cars and my street were completely blanketed with snow. The only movement were us kids playing and tobogganing on the wonderful mountains of snow! A woman on my street was pregnant & the only way they could get her to the hospital was by Ski-Doo!"

Gail Heather Marsh said she was a student nurse at the Montreal General Hospital School of Nursing at the time, living in residence in Livingston Hall. "My bedroom window looked out on Côte-des-Neiges and down Guy St. I remember people getting around on those streets on cross country skis and snowmobiles."

Check out our photo gallery.

Province paralyzed

The strong winds caused power outages across many parts of the province. The city of Joliette was entirely blacked out.

The winds were so strong that they caused snow to drift onto the streets, obstructing them moments after the plows had passed.

Bell asked people to refrain from using the telephone, except for emergencies, and also ordered people not to use the services of the operator.

In Montreal, almost all buses stalled. The Metro operated all night, but service was slow due to a lack of personnel.

The Queen Elizabeth Hotel transformed one of its reception rooms into a dormitory for its employees who had no way of getting home.

At Central Station, travellers spent the night sleeping on the floor.

No longer a record

Montrealers should take note though, March 4, 1971 was the greatest snowfall ever recorded — until a few years ago.

On Dec. 27, 2012, the city got 45.6 centimetres of snow, beating the 1971 record.


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