It never snows in Victoria, except when it does, every year

By Jack Knox, Times Colonist December 15, 2009 1:06 AM

Two o'clock yesterday afternoon. I approach the editor, clear my throat: "After much soul-searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional newspapering. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person."

"Pardon?" she says.

"Like Tiger Woods, I am leaving work to save my family. I apologize for my indiscretions."

"You?"

I nodded my head vigorously. "Got 'em stacked up like cordwood. One affair she might have forgiven. Two, three, four, I'm still good. But once you hit double digits, some women get testy. I better go."

"So what you're saying," says the boss, "is you're going home early to beat the snow."

Well, yes, now that you mention it, it would be nice to get off the roads before the flakes start falling faster than Tiger's reputation.

This is how Victorians react to even the slightest threat of snow: Bolt for home in time for Oprah/the early game on TSN. Just a hint of white in the sky, and the entire city goes to voicemail. By 4 p.m. the Malahat looks like France in 1940, the highway choked with ox carts and refugees fleeing the advancing horror. The Q {GREAT local radio stn} dumps classic rock, just plays the theme music to Exodus, over and over.

Thankfully, it never snows in Victoria, except when it does, every single winter, much to the amusement of the rest of the country. The rest of Canada enjoys a West Coast snowfall the way the Brits enjoy watching Princess Anne fall off a horse.

Jennifer Crosby, who left CHEK television for Global Edmonton last January, hears all about Victoria's winter wimpiness from her new colleagues. "I have to remind them that I grew up in real winter," says Jenn, who was raised a farm girl in northern B.C.

Real winter is what the real Canada is experiencing this week. It was minus 47 in Edmonton Sunday night, minus 59 with the wind chill. That's like saying Shaquille O'Neal stands 7'3" with his boots on. It's impressive enough without the boots, or the wind.

"It's only minus 26 right now," Crosby said over the phone yesterday afternoon, sounding like a Monty Python knight ("It's just a flesh wound"). Seems the frigid weather has given Edmontonians a plucky sense of adventure. "When you get out and about when it's this cold ... you're kind of laughing in the face of it." (Let's pause to compare this to the response in Victoria, where doctors prescribe 20 mg of Prozac for every inch of snow/degree below zero.)

Crosby, who anchors Global Edmonton's News Hour Final, admits she misses Victoria, which is nice to hear, because we miss her, too, sparkling gal that she is. She still thinks like an Islander, too, feels guilty about giving her car 15 minutes to warm up in the morning; in Victoria, anything over 15 seconds earns you the type of glares normally associated with smoking in church or handing out beer on Halloween. "Time to buy some carbon credits," she says.

Crosby has not yet driven away with the block heater plugged in, though separating it from the frozen extension cord did turn into a knees-braced-against-the-car, pulling-with-both-hands Wrestlemania event one day last week. The windows of her home are iced shut and frosted over. "It feels like I'm living in a snow cave." It's even cold at work; she keeps a scarf in the newsroom.

Albertans just take it in stride. "I'm hearing from more people on the Coast about our weather than I'm hearing from people here."

Besides, they say it's a dry cold, the Albertan equivalent of "at least you don't have to shovel it." Crosby walked a block for a coffee yesterday, didn't find it that bad.

At least, not as bad as doing a stand-up in Oak Bay when it was minus six. That was as chilled as she can remember being, ever. Of course, no one dresses for cold weather in Victoria, where it never snows, except when it does, every single winter.

jknox@tc.canwest.com

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