PEI

Maritime winter of 2015 remembered in new book, Deep Freeze

Deep Freeze Winter 2015 recalls record-setting series of storms that shut down much of the Maritimes last winter and spring in photos and text.

Unforgettable winter subject of new book: 'It was the bomb'

A plow makes it way through heavy snow on Route 20 near Park Corner on P.E.I.'s North Shore. This photo went viral on Facebook and was shared 11,000 times. (Paul Montgomery/Facebook)

A lot of people may want to forget the winter of 2014-15, the coldest and snowiest ever on record in the Maritimes. But Lunenburg, Nova Scotia author John MacIntyre hopes people will, if not enjoy looking back on the season, at least buy his new book Deep Freeze Winter 2015 for the history and the humour.

By the end of April 2015, a new record of at 550 cm of snow was set in P.E.I. In a normal winter the region gets fewer than two storms with a snowfall greater than 25 cm. In 2015, there were eight. 

Most snow in the history of record-keeping

John MacIntyre published Deep Freeze Winter 2015 so people can 'tell the grandkids' what last winter was like. (MacIntyrePurcell Publishing Inc)

"We got nailed with those last few storms at the end of March and I said, 'Wow, this is spectacular,'" said author John MacIntyre.

"It's not until you review the data do you realize that from January to April — because normally Environment Canada measures a winter from November to April — do you realize it's the most amount of snow in the history of record-keeping Maritime-wide. So it was the bomb."

That bomb is reflected in the book's many photographs, some which were shared on social media.

"We combined acquiring photographs from newspaper, professional photographers, and of course Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, those sorts of things," said MacIntyre.

"You talk to any person out there, everybody's got a story about last winter."

Some of the standouts for MacIntyre? "You hear stories of people not being reached for three, four, five days, that type of thing sort of grabs you and lets you know the severity. And you look at the banks, you see people standing on top of their half-ton and still not reaching the top of the bank. Just the sheer magnitude of what we got from really Jan. 26 to the end of March."

The Week from Hell, and #stormchips

The book's chapters include The Week from Hell, detailing one week in February that dumped 128 cm of snow on the city of Saint John, prompting a state of emergency.

Deep Freeze Winter 2015 by John MacIntyre tells the story of the Maritimes' record-shattering cold and snow that year. (MacIntyrePurcell Publishing Inc. )

Another chapter, Juan Redux, talks about how P.E.I.'s post-Valentine's Day storm shattered the benchmark for snowfall set by White Juan, the nor'easter that shut down Atlantic Canada back in 2004. And the chapter Ice. Damn! explores the records set for insurance claims.

"There was the week from hell, in the case of P.E.I. that was 110 cm in a matter of six days. To put that in perspective, there's [on average] 290 cm in a season. And the February 15th storm was just ... incredible to be part of!" MacIntyre exclaims.

The book explores how snow affected transportation, wildlife, and Maritimers' spirits. It even spends time on the snack phenomenon known as storm chips: potato chips Atlantic Canadians have taken to stocking up on during foul weather.

Summerside's famous snow tunnel

Summerside's now-famous snow tunnel is featured on a two-page spread.

When the snowbanks reached the eaves of Marcel Landry's house, he carved out a huge tunnel from his front door to his car. A CBC video posted to YouTube was viewed nearly half-a-million times. 

WATCH: CBC's Krystalle Ramlakhan meets man who dug tunnel through snow

News

6 years ago
1:51
WATCH: CBC's Krystalle Ramlakhan meets man who dug tunnel through snow 1:51

Of course there is a more serious side to the book, and the winter.

Ferries were stranded and fuel supplies dipped when an oil tanker got stuck in Charlottetown. The Confederation Bridge was closed, often. MacIntyre said he's sympathetic to people who lost wages when they couldn't get to work, and snowplow operators who bid by the season and lost income. He also says most people he talked to were happy with the ability of crews to remove snow. 

"It's always nice to survive something like that but when you're going through it, for those two periods it was relentless, for a lot of people it wasn't a lot of fun."

The book is published by Macintryepurcell Publishing and retails for $19.95. 

with files from Matt Rainnie

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