Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Winters – How the Old Tall Tales Became Reality

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Winters - How the Old Tall Tales Became Reality

I was born and still live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Most people in Cape Breton are part of rural small Scottish communities rich in Gaelic culture, story-telling, tall tales and ghost stories have always been a basic element of our every day life.

A tale we would hear when I was a child was “I remember there was so much more snow than nowadays. I recall walking to school and the snow piles were so high that your grandparents would tell us, Be careful not to touch the wires on the power poles because you could get electrocuted.”

Well to be honest this wasn’t something only my Mom said, rather many of us children would hear this type of story from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and more. Countless evenings I would sit in the kitchen getting as close as possible to the red hot wood stove burning hardwood or coal and I would hear this saying replayed a thousand times by different relatives.

Each time I heard one of my relatives tell this story about how high the snow was there was always a little more snow then the last  telling of the tale.  They often talked about the dangerous trek to school. Yes, the dangerous long trek to school because prior to my generation it appears school was never cancelled, regardless of the weather and dangers it imposed.

Honestly,  I started to become skeptical about the tales my relatives told after the age of 8 – that was until this winter. After the weather we received in December 2013 and much of January 2014 I am now a true believer.  Typically we see temperatures 0 to -6 degrees Celsius on the Island during that time period but we weren’t so lucky this year.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Winters - How the Old Tall Tales Became RealityCape Breton, Nova Scotia Winters - How the Old Tall Tales Became Reality

Battered with storm after storm, strong winds and temperatures dropping at times to -30 Celsius with the wind chill factor, I believe the elders in my family would say, “oh it’s just an old fashion Cape Breton winter, I guess you young ones believe us now!”

There was another old saying we often heard when I was young .  I can see myself sitting around the hot stove and hearing my relatives say, “the proof is in the pudding,” or in our case  this winter season, in the height of the snow drifts.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Winters - How the Old Tall Tales Became Reality Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Winters - How the Old Tall Tales Became Reality


  1. says

    Like you, I remember a lot more snow in the winter. We used to have huge piles that you couldn’t see over or around.
    I can see why they told you not to touch the wires, the snow was so high that you probably walked very close to them.
    Kind of scary when you think about it.

  2. Cyndie Norell says

    Living in the South, I never see any snow. We have a chance of flurries this coming week that would shut the whole state down.

  3. says

    Never been to Nova Scotia, and I am yours truly fellow Canadian, hailing from Toronto, Ontario :) This year, winter has hit us hard in the form of Snow and Ice Storm and so far, there is no relief in sight. I totally hear you! here’s is to a beautiful summer! :)

  4. says

    I honestly haven’t been to the snow in a long long time. It does not snow where I live, but it does snow about fifty minutes out of town. I seriously need to take my children next year.

  5. says

    My husband would often tell our kids that they are so lucky that school closes when the weather is bad because when he was a kid, the school never closes.

    We are having some awful winter here too. Be safe out there.

  6. says

    Parents are good at telling stories that sounds too far fetch to believe, that is until they actually come true. I live in Montreal QC and this winter is by far the coldest we’ve had in years. I can’t imagine getting as much snow as you did in Nova Scotia.

  7. says

    Wow you got a lot of snow! I live in the Poconos, in Pennsylvania. When I was little, we got snow like that. Now, we just get a ton of little storms. Enough to make it so bad I can’t leave the house, but nothing like when I was little. I want my son to experience one blizzard in his life. LOL. Is that crazy? As an adult, the snow can stay away, but as a kid, it was magical to me. So I want that for him.

  8. says

    Eek I feel so cold on your behalf when I see pictures like this.. we had a cold front come in from Russia for a few days. Jerusalem was under snow but we were just cold higher north where I am. No, let me correct that, we were cold in comparison to regular weather.. I was freezing!!! I wouldn’t be able to handle this Nova Scotia winter…

  9. Linda says

    I grew up in Cape Breton in a 2 story farm house and I can remember my younger brother climbing out the upstairs bathroom window on to the roof of the porch to shovel down to get the back door open. Winters are nothing like they use to be….we have become spoiled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *