Alexandra Pope, staff writer
When it comes to the weather in Canada, anything is possible -- just look at everything that's happened on our country's birthday over the years.
If there's any day of the year when Canadians can expect pleasant weather, it's July 1st.
After all, it's officially summer -- there's a good chance temperatures will be warm and skies clear right across the country.
“It's the one time of year you could board a plane in St. John's and be properly dressed in Tuktoyaktuk,” says David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada.
But the historical record shows that sometimes, the weather doesn't even respect national holidays.
The first recorded tornado in Canadian history occurred even before confederation, on July 1st, 1792 in Fonthill, Ontario. The twister took out a row of trees that was slated for removal anyway to make way for a road. The locals eventually named the road Hurricane Road in honour of that lucky coincidence.
According to oral reports, the actual day of Canada's birth, July 1st, 1867, could not have been more perfect weather-wise, at least in the four provinces that initially comprised Canada.
“It was described as being warm, sunny and cloudless with a slight breeze,” Phillips says. “In what was Canada back then, you couldn’t have had a finer day.”
Subsequent Canada days have been more eventful:
Many beloved Canada Day traditions -- fireworks, parades, concerts and backyard barbecues -- have had to be sacrificed on account of the weather.
On July 1st, 1997, strong winds forced the cancellation of Winnipeg's Canada Day fireworks 45 minutes before the show was to go on, disappointing thousands of spectators.
On July 1st, 2001, celebrations in the nation's capital were cut short due not to inclement weather, but unseasonable cold. Temperatures dropped below 10°C after dark.
“People were bundled up on Parliament Hill,” Phillips recalls.
The following year saw the opposite problem: many Hill revellers succumbed to heat stroke as Ottawa hit a high of 32°C with a humidex of 43°C.
Last year, people in Yorkton, Saskatchewan were too busy bailing out their basements to enjoy Canada Day activities. More than 1,000 homes were flooded after days of heavy rain, and a state of emergency was declared.
If there's a moral to these stories, it's to expect anything and everything from Canada's weather, Phillips says.
“There's no immunity on Canada Day,” he says. “Sometimes you can get some strange and bizarre weather!”
With files from Lyndsay Morrison