Wild weather on P.E.I.

Published on December 31, 2015

Author John MacIntyre is prepared for the storms that await him after writing “Deep Freeze: Winter 2015”. Published by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing, the book contains photos and stories from across the Maritime provinces.

©Vernon Oickle/ Special to The Guardian


Every photo tells a story.

Whether it’s Marcel Landry, the Summerside resident who refused to admit defeat when the snow outside his home reached up to the power lines and took seven hours to dig out his car, or the Toyota Tacoma in a giant snow tunnel on a Cavendish road or magical snowdrifts outside Maxine Delaney’s New Glasgow home, it’s easy for one’s thoughts to return to the winter of 2015, the coldest and snowiest on record.

“It was a wild one,” says John MacIntyre, who recants the stories of Martimers through photographs and narratives in his new book, “Deep Freeze: Winter 2015”, published by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing.

“I was one of the ones who, up to Jan. 26, was saying that we would be getting away with winter. Boy was I ever wrong,” laughs the author, who watched the winter of discontent unfold from the windows of his Lunenburg, N.S., home.

“I had never been up on my roof (to clean off snow) before or had my driveway plowed for 29 years. Last winter I was on my roof three times and I had a backhoe dig out my driveway numerous times.”

Specifically, on Prince Edward Island, 549.6 cm of the white stuff fell; more than the 539 cm recorded in the winter of 1971-72, states a report from Environment Canada.

And that meant much snow cleaning and storytelling.

“It never ceases to amaze me that everyone has a storm story. My nephew works at Canadian Tire and they store their canoes outside. They thought they could get away with it last winter. But, when they came out in the spring the found the canoes had become as flat as pancakes because of the snowfall.”

Then there was the story about the house that caught fire during a storm on P.E.I.

“Normally, what would be a 10-minute call took three hours. They couldn’t make it in time. I could see it in my own mind: ‘ the lady, sitting in her car, watching her house burn. That was so sad.”

MacIntyre also heard stories about employees who worked by the hour who couldn’t get to work and the snowplow operator who made a bid on the job for the season but lost his shirt because of all the overtime due to the storms.

“So, it was hard. But, at the end of the day there were some great photos. And so you got to see people’s resiliency,” says MacIntyre who didn’t start thinking about writing the book until late March.

“I thought, ‘I don’t know how much snow is down, but it’s a lot.’ I didn’t green light it in my own mind until April when I talked with David Phillips.”

Environment Canada’s senior climatologist set him straight.

“David said, ‘we won’t see that in a long, long, long time.’ When a scientist uses three longs he means ‘never in your lifetime’ “ says MacIntyre who started his research shortly afterward.

The book is a twofold approach.

“There was a lot of data to assimilate. We had to go centimetre-by-centimetre, storm-by-storm and really build a picture of what the winter looked like. Then, with the photos, try to capture the human element of what went down.”

Next he purchased and acquired images from professional photographers around the region. He also added social media pictures that had become well known.

People were supportive when he told them about his project.

“Weather is the last common denominator and it does bring people together in a conversation. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, if you were in the Maritimes last winter, it was tough.”