Winter Finally Arrives

A fine Christmas, a fat Churchyard.

Winter thunder means Summer's hunger.

A year of snow, a year of plenty.

A warm Christmas, a cold Easter.

A red sun got water in his eye.

Evening red and morning grey,

Double signs of one fine day.

                                -NEWFOUNDLAND PROVERB

When muskrats build their houses high look for a hard winter.

                                -ONTARIO WEATHER LORE

Anyone who foretells Alberta weather is either a newcomer or a fool.

                                -FRANK OLIVER, 1946

There is no such thing as bad weather; only our lack of appreciation of it.

                                -WILLIAM SAUNDERS, 1905

Official weather records have only been kept in Canada for about a hundred years, and so it is impossible to know for certain whether or not the winter of 1671 was the shortest ever experienced. It probably was. In that year Quebec got its first real sign of winter on January 14, and the ice and snow had almost melted away by the middle of March.

If this happened today it would be pleasant for most people. In 1671, however, the short winter was a hardship. The early inhabitants of New France depended on cold weather to keep their food supplies from spoiling. They usually harvest their grain and vegetables in October and stored them in cool places. In November they killed and preserved as much wild game as they could: moose, deer, ducks, partridges, and fish. These were their supplies until fresh food became available. Unfortunately, the winter of 1671 was so mild and so brief that a great deal of food spoiled, and many people starved.

Even today many people have their own peculiar methods of weather-forecasting. If dewdrops lace the grass some people say, "The fairies are hanging out their washing," and so they predict hot weather.

It is possible to predict changes in the weather quite, accurately by looking into a large barrel of sauerkraut! It helps to add a few quarts of brine. The sauerkraut juice acts like a barometer; when the weather is going to be good, the sauerkraut will be quite dry on the surface; if the weather is deteriorating, then more and more liquid will appear, depending on the intensity of the disturbance.

About the time of the short winter in 1671, a popular method of weather-forecasting was to keep a leech in a bottle of water. When the weather was about to change the leech would move around actively, agitating the water. If there was going to be a high windstorm the leech would be even more active, and before a thunderstorm it would have convulsions! Cats were also weather guides. If a cat sneezed, or sat on a doorstep combing its fur and whiskers, the old Canadians said that it was going to rain.



-1645    The Company of New France transferred its trading rights to the Community of Habitants, which consisted of colonists in Canada.

-1875    Serious riots at Caraquet, N.B., over an act providing for free, nonsectarian schools lasted until January 28, and militia had to be sent to restore order.

            The first issue of the Halifax Herald was published.

-1898    Canada was asked to contribute one third of the cost of the Pacific cable.

-1902    The Prince Edward Island Prohibition Act was declared valid by the Supreme Court.

-1947    Canada was elected to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.