A Christmas time to remember

Posted Christmas Day (with a Boxing Day update)

Click thumbnails for larger images

The great Toronto ice storm of 2013 left us in the dark (and cold) for about 43 hours, from 9 am Sunday (Dec. 22) until about 4 am on Christmas Eve.  At the peak, there were 300,000 homes in Toronto without electricity or heat, just as some terribly cold weather approached. We had already gone through a 46-hour blackout in July following that month’s “Great Flood” Toronto had experienced. One lesson we learned from that time was to not keep a lot of food in the freezer! We threw out a lot of spoiled food last summer; a lot less this time around.

If our dark and cold house wasn’t enough of a connection with the problems Toronto was experiencing, we had a fallen hydro lying on the road right in front of our house. Falling tree branches pulled it down on Sunday, severing the house across the road from us from the main electrical feed. (Which of course was dead at the time). A police car sat on our street most of the day blocking the street in case anyone touched the completely dead electric wire. The car left, but the street was blocked off with police tape.


Below: Police guard a dead (for now) hydro wire. We had emergency supplies stockpiled

A hydro wire came down Sunday. Emergency Rations


We watched (and our cats, Ethel and Charlie experienced) the dropping of temperature in the house hour by hour. Sunday night, many on our block gathered in a house across the road to enjoy a fireplace, candles and wine. By Monday, some were moving out, to stay with friends and family who had heat and power. We decided to hold off one more day; moving would be traumatic for the cats, and we thought we could survive one more night. Monday night, we went around the corner to a neighbourhood restaurant, Classico, for dinner. The owner also filled up our hot watter bottle. Back home, Charlie and I sat by the fire, while Ethel crawled under the covers and against the hot water bottle. (She stayed near it all night, as we all huddled together in the bed, with plenty of covers).

xmas-freeze_ch-fire-w xmas-freeze_w-bottle-w


I woke up about 4:30am. I knew what time it was because the electric clock told me. Santa had come a day early! I went to the basement to make sure the furnace and hot water heater had come on (they had). I checked the thermostat: 8C — but climbing! How happy all of us were. Soon, the cats settled in in one of their favourite places in winter — on top of the living room radiator. They didn’t move for a long time…


Now, on Christams Day, there are still tens of thousands of homes without power or heat, as crews work around the clock to clear trees, fix wires and restore hydro. We certainly appreciate — once again — having a warm and bright home, especially for Christmas.

Today, a hydro worker showed up to disable the downed hydro line on the street. The house it had come from was the only one on our block which didn’t get power back on Tuesday. Our neighbours moved out that day to stay somewhere with heat. We understand they should get power back sometime tonight.

Below: a couple of other photos from our power-less days.
– Our 1940’s-era Northern Electric phone came through for the second time during a blackout
– Our Ukrainian and Canadian flags in the ice storm.

Once again, our 1940's Northern Electric phone came through during a blackout. Our Ukrainian and Canadian flags in the ice and snow


Boxing Day update…

The original worker yesterday didn’t remove the downed wire. This morning I discovered he’d just looped it up, and stored it safely (!) on our property, covered in much yellow police tape.

Live wire tied up on our yard.

About 11:30 this morning, a crew showed up. They re-attached the wire and restored power to our neighbour’s house.

Onward into winter…

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