Tuesday, 8 January 2013


If there's one thing that we know about in Canada, it's snow. Lately we got a huge fucking crapload of this white shit. Mother nature unleashed her fury upon us and buried us in about 47cm of snow. That's nearly 20 inches! It was a record from what I read on the web, the last being something like 43 or 45 back in the 70's. Montreal is well prepared for this kind of stuff though. I read somewhere that someone read on the internet on some website that someone commented that Montreal had the largest snow removal budget in the world. Although, I can't verify the exactitude of that fact, here is what the city of Montreal spent in 2011-2012 for snow removal. Here's a video that someone shot that shows how the city clears the snow after a huge snowfall:

The aboriginal people of northern Canada (Inuits and Innus) supposedly have 100 words to describe snow. I wouldn't be surprised, though here in Montreal, I don't think we ever had 100 types of snow. But, let me tell you about a few kinds that we French settlers have.

Neige - Snow

First of all, we have the regular fluffy white stuff. Everybody knows what that is. It's snow. We call it neige in French. Or as we pronounce it in true Quebecker slang fasion: NEIGH-JH. Like the name of the sound a horse makes but with a soft "j" at the end.

Sloche/Gadoue - Slush

Yes, sloche. Just like the slushie drink. Also called gadoue (pronounced GAH-DOO) by some. It's a mixture of half melted snow and water that makes this really wet dirty brown mess on the curb in the street. Try not to step in that stuff because you'll be sure to end up with cold wet feet as the water will penetrate your shoes and the wet snow will cling to any fabric and chill your feet while slowly melting and thus increasing the amunt of water in your shoes over a prolonged period of time. If you happen to walk to close to the edge of the sidewalk, chances are you might get splashed when a car drives by and you'll be covered in this filthy stuff. It happened to me once when I was a young teenager, and it was a police cruiser that swerved into a large puddle of slush to splash me on purpose. Fucking bastards. Anyway, enough of my childhood trauma stories. Here's what that crap looks like:

La poudreuse/The powder

This is a really, REALLY light fluffy snow. Usually during or just right after a snowfall, the snow will be super duper extra light. If you were to jump in a mountain of that stuff, you'd probably sink through and die of asphyxiation like you would in quicksand. This snow is great for snowshoeing, snowboarding,  alpine and cross-country skiing. It's also great for softly breaking your fall while doing any kind of winter sport. But, unless you're wearing one of those specialized snow travelling apparel, you will sink right through to your waist, get stuck and die from either frozenballzitis or popsicledickosis unless someone is there to pull you out and carry you to a snow-less place. The sad part about this snow is that most of the time, it's not humid enough to be sticky. Therefore you can't make any snowballs out of it.


Pie crust/Brown sugar

Ok, so those are the three official names of types of snow. But, I'd like to make up a couple more. There's another type of snow that I think deserves its own name. I don't know how to describe it, but it's in between normal snow and slush. It's not powdery or thick like normal snow, nor is it wet and runny like slush. You can walk in it without getting your feet wet. When you walk in that stuff, it's like walking in light wet sand. It's hard to describe.  I call it the unbaked pie crust snow, or the brown-sugar snow. Because, it really does have the grainy, sticky pasty texture of pie crust mix or the grainy sticky feel of brown sugar. This kind of snow usually forms when regular snow gets walked on, or driven on and is mixed with a bit of water. When you walk a long distance in this shit, your legs really hurt because every time you take a step, your feet slide back a little and it takes twice the effort to travel a certain distance.

La surprise/The surprise

There should be other names as well for snow that melted a little in warmer weather and then immediately hardened when the temperature dropped once again. It's not snow anymore, nor is it ice either. But, that shit will mess up your car real good when you want to parallel park your car and think you can get it through that small foot-high pile of snow. BZZZZ! WRONG! That motherfucking snow will tear off your bumper and seriously damage your car. You will also break your toes if you think you can kick a snowball from a frozen snowbank. And that's not good, I can tell you from experience...

La croûteuse/The crusty snow

Sometimes it'll snow, then a couple of days later, it'll rain, then it'll get freezing cold overnight thus creating a thick frozen ice crust on the top of the snow, while the rest underneath remains all light and fluffy. The crust can get so thick, it can actually support your whole weight! But, be careful! If you start to walk too fast or run on the crust, chances are your foot will go right through and your shin will hit the crust and this, my friends, hurts a lot! But, apart from being able to walk on the snow like you're the Jesus Christ of the Arctic, another neat part is that you can break off large chunks of the crust and throw it like a Frisbee! (Freezebee. Get it?) Just be careful not to aim it at someone's face because IT WILL MESS THEM UP BUT GOOD! Also, don't throw them at cars, unless you want to get revenge on a bad drive who almost ran over you while making a left turn when you were there, crossing the street. Indeed, the crusty snow is a deadly weapon that can be used like an ice crystal ninja throwing star.

Okay, so there are many other types of snow I could write about but I'm gonna stop here. I think from what I wrote, you should get a good idea of the types of snow we have here. Just to let you know, if you plan on staying in the city, you won't need skis or snowshoes. The city has a pretty good snow removal system and chances are, you could probably walk around town in your running shoes if you wanted to. Worst case scenario, just stick to the underground complex. That's what it's there for!

Bonus: Check out these icicles!

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