Larissa, left, and Isla Russo had fun on their unexpected day off school making melted snowmen out of marshmallows.
Photo: Anja Bundze

By Mark Campbell

Tuesday, February 12, was a Snow Day in Toronto.  Not a snow day, but a Snow Day. Capital S, capital D.  For the first time in eight years both the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic District School Boards closed their doors due to inclement weather. I’ll pause momentarily for cheers from students and teachers; groans from parents and caregivers.

If you are an early riser you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Nary a flake to be seen until almost 8:00 in the morning. But then it started. As the meteorologists might say: “Snow. Heavy at times, with drifting, accompanied by intermittent pandemonium.” About 15cm fell during the day – itself not a reason to cause wide-scale cancellations – but then the temperature rose, and the freezing rain began to fall. You know the sound when ice pellets hit your windows – rat-a-tat tat tat tat – that strikes fear into the hearts of drivers everywhere? Later it became clear why schools had been closed for the day.

So, what did Centennial area residents do during this freebee? This one glorious day to play hooky and get away with it? I envisioned street parties and snowpeople lining the boulevards. Perhaps a community snowball fight. Mass hordes descending upon Adams Park for some sledding and tobogganing.

Nope. Apparently, it was a whole lotta Netflix and staying out of the chill. Most parents I spoke to had to work from home.

Sangita Kumari, whose two daughters attend Charlottetown Junior Public School, said, “My kids have never got out of bed as quickly as they did when they heard it was a snow day!” But then she added, “We stayed in and hibernated. We did some baking. That’s as fun as it gets.”

When asked about Netflix, Anja Bundze simply said, “I refuse.” For her daughters, Isla and Larissa Russo, aged 9 and 7, it was a day of adventure that included taffy making, clay modelling and a Valentine’s Day treasure hunt where the prize was a bin of candy found in the dryer. Which seems a perfectly reasonable place to keep a bin of candy.

“It was really fun, we made taffy and lots of candy. The taffy didn’t turn out well. It kind of looked like poo,” said Isla. “We made melted snowmen with marshmallows. Then we ate them.”  There were plans to roll the taffy out in the snow but for the time it took to get all geared up in their snowsuits, the taffy went rock hard.

For some, a snowfall can be more enterprising. Enter DJ and Dylan Hawkins, brothers in Grade 8 and Grade 7, respectively, at Joseph Howe Senior Public School. Late in January, the boys decided to start a snow shovelling business. “We wanted to do something other than stay inside,” said DJ.

During the last major snowfall, according to Dylan, “we did three houses in about an hour each.” This time around they figure it took 75-90 minutes per driveway because the snow was so heavy and icy. The boys champion teamwork and perseverance to get each job done.

Snow Days are certainly few and far between. Who knows when we’ll see another one? According to Larissa Russo, “I want more snow days. But I also want to learn.” There you go.