This winter has had its share of extreme weather, and while overall the season hasn’t been as cold as last year––which saw one of the coldest winters in 120 years––there has certainly been ample opportunity to play in the snow, or be stranded from work on a “snow day.” Although the average temperature this year is only down by half a degree, sitting at about about 3 degrees °C, the Harbour City has had ten centimetres more snow this winter than it does in the average year, with the city getting about 60 centimetres over the past few months as opposed to the usual 50. The Nanaimo airport on the other hand, received double the amount of snow that usually falls there, with 40 centimetres of snow in December.
In any case, spring appears to be just around the corner now, and the chill of this year’s winter seems all the more bearable when recollecting one very chilly Nanaimo winter roughly 150 years ago. It might perhaps be difficult for a present-day Nanaimo-dweller to imagine ice on the Nanaimo harbour, but the winter of 1866 was so cold that the harbour did indeed freeze, and a ferry that had travelled from Victoria, the Sir James Douglas, was locked in the bay by the surrounding ice.
This photograph, taken 150 years ago, is a testament to the fact that while the city of Nanaimo has undeniably changed a great deal since the mid 1800s, some facts about its inhabitants stay the same––although admittedly snow can be a source of maddening irritation for adults trying to get to work, it is also a great source of fun, and children do, and probably always will, love to play in it.