When a Saskatchewan cold snap was national news

A temperature of -35 C wasn't remarkable for Saskatchewan — unless it happened in November.

Extreme temperature drop in November came 'much, much too early'

Cold comes early

45 years ago
Duration 1:44
A report on extreme conditions in Saskatchewan wraps up the national news in November 1978.

A temperature of -35 C wasn't remarkable for Saskatchewan — unless it happened in November. 

In that case, it was remarkable enough to end a Tuesday-night broadcast of the CBC's The National on Nov. 21, 1978.

The temperature had been "lurking" at -35 C since the weekend, said host Knowlton Nash, noting that "for most people, it's much, much too early" for the low mercury.

Reporter John Calver praised the "artistic eye" of the camera operator who managed to make the cold look beautiful.

When cold becomes 'bothersome'

Person in coat, scarf and thick toque
Not even a thick hat was enough to ward off the cold for those walking outside. (The National/CBC Archives)

People outside, from children to the elderly, were seen bundled up and exhaling freezing plumes of air.

Waiting for a bus, doing some early Christmas shopping, or finding out the car wouldn't start were all times when the cold became "bothersome" for most, said Calver.

"But there's always someone around to make us look a little sheepish," said the reporter, as the camera followed a man jogging in a black balaclava and green-and-yellow jacket.

The recent temperature drop had reached record low levels — and according to Environment Canada, the lows in Regina on Nov. 18, 19 and 20, 1978 stand 45 years later as the records for those calendar days. 

The cold had even nudged a group of 3,000 Canada geese living on the city's Wascana Lake to take flight and head south — though not all had departed.

"A few hundred stayed around, sitting on the frozen lake, no food and no open water," said Calvert. "But who knows? Maybe they're waiting for a compass." 

Geese with heads bowed while sitting on snowy surface
A "few hundred" Canada geese stayed around, sitting on frozen Wascana Lake, during the cold snap. (The National/CBC Archives)

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