It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Snow Removal = Excitement Plus!!!

1. When these signs appear in the snowbanks, the tots are in for a treat, because some serious Snow Removal is heading our way. Even those of you where the flakes never fall know about snow plows, I’m sure, but have you ever wondered what happens to the heaps after they’re shoved to the side of the road? They can’t stay there – by mid-January the banks would cover the roads, and be creeping onto your front porch!

So first the signs: don’t park here or you’ll be towed. People co-operate with these things because we all want those snowbanks gone!

2. Stage one: These are city plows. Highway plows are different beasts, more like honkin’ big dump trucks with a couple of immense blades out front, but these graders work better on city streets. Though you can’t see it in these photos, their front wheels can, when necessary, tip to the side to about 45 degrees. Very cool!

The plows come in and push the snowbanks into the middle of the street. Deliberately. And again, drivers co-operate. Not without a little grumbling and muttering, perhaps, but it’s better than the alternative!

3. Then this cute lil guy, the sidewalk plow, comes along to shove the remainder of the rill out into the street, too.

4. Here’s a good view of the rill that’s been made down the centre of the street. But what, you ask, is the machine which faces it?

5. This is it! See those circular blades? They slice right into the banks, and then suck up the snow and shoot it into the waiting dump truck. They trundle in tandem down the street.

That spout can move from side to side, the better to fill the dump truck.

The line of dump trucks await their turn. We have a LOT of snow! This kind of snow removal does not happen after every snowfall: can you imagine the expense? We’re all happy when it happens, though!

You can see why this is a toddler thrill: TWO kinds of snowplows, a mondo snow-blower, and a gazillion dump trucks! Does it get any more exciting?

And for me: clear sidewalks and – oh, the excitement! – on-street parking once more!!

December 29, 2005 - Posted by | Ottawa, outings


  1. As I said on Q’s post about the same, I find it hilariously funny that they truck the snow away. I don’t know why, but I just do:-)

    And no, before you two enlightened me, I never wondered what happened to the plowed snow. I guess I assumed it stayed piled up in dunes on the sidewalk/pavement (which one do you use in Canada?) for kids to jump in! Back in 1982 we had a “Big Freeze” which meant snow dunes & I rememebr them being the greatest playthings in the world at that time. I guess it might lose it’s appeal if available for months every year:-)

    Comment by Mrs.Aginoth | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  2. MrsA: Ah, but what you’re not grasping is the sheer volume of snow we get. If we were to shove it to the side and ignore the piles – the correct term is a snowbank – there would be no sidewalk nor passable street by the end of January. At all.

    (Here, the cement for pedestrians is a sidewalk; the asphalt the cars drive on sometimes referred to as pavement.)

    Not to worry – for most snowfalls, the snow is just plowed to the side, so the kids get lots of play in the snowbanks. They haul out these heavy duty fellows when we’ve had a fall of 20 cm within 24 hours, or when the roads are becoming impassable.

    Comment by Mary P. | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  3. Wow–even growing up in Minnesota, I never saw this kind of operation. But then, I never lived in the city–only small towns and suburbs.

    In Philly, rather than cart the snow away, they have melters. That’s pretty interesting too.

    Comment by Sharkey | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  4. Wow that is a lot of snow!!!! I’m not too fond of the cold and snow but I enjoy seeing pictures of it. I very happy and comfortable with the weather here in Southern California

    Comment by confessionsofabusymom | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  5. Wow! I had no idea! All I see here in Phoenix are street sweepers. No where near as exciting.

    Comment by Andie D. | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  6. Wow. My poor little boy in SF has only the garbage trucks to watch.

    Comment by L. | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  7. That is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Here in OKC, the snowplows never come into the neighborhoods (they stay on the big roads) because the snow all melts in a day or so. But those trucks are SO COOL!

    See why it’s a good thing I have sons? Big trucks make me so happy.

    Comment by Susan | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  8. That’s really cool… we don’t have our road plowed very often (although the last time it snowed the plow came twice), so I’ve never seen anything like this… but I know a couple of kiddos who would love to watch…

    Comment by Angela | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  9. that’s serious snow removal right there!!!

    i’m sure the kids had a field day watching them all morning long…how exciting for them!

    Comment by kimmyk | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  10. Happy White Christmas.

    Comment by robmcj | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  11. Sharkey: I grew up in central Ontario, but rural: we never saw this kind of operation – strictly an urban thing. Melters sound interesting: what happens to the water? Just straight down the storm sewers? It doesn’t freeze into a nasty slippery street surface?

    COABM: I think I’d like your weather! Wonder if it can be imported, along with the grapes and the oranges?

    Andie, L, Susan, Angela, Kimmy: We have street sweeper/washers here, too, and though the kids enjoy them as well, this operation is one of the best things this city has to offer.

    Oh! Except for perhaps the “amphibex” – the boat/backhoe thingy that goes down the river in the spring, breaking up the ice to prevent ice damming and flooding. If I can manage to get the pictures, that’d be a set of photos I’d have to post!

    (Did you show the pictures to the boys, Susan? Or do you want to prolong the idea that computers are boooorring as long as possible?)

    Rob: Happy Christmas to you, too! Nice to see you again – haven’t seen you round here in forever. Perhaps I should post more big machine pictures to draw you in? 🙂

    Comment by Mary P. | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  12. L. Garbage trucks are fun. We have all sorts of equipment working here and the girls are still young enough to watch it all. Me too – I need to get a life.

    No snow here although Yosemite, about 80 miles away, gets a lot. I still remember the first rotary plows that appeared in central New York when I was little. They were the marvel of the age. Snow went everywhere.

    I just stumbled across Angela’s blog. Now I know two nannies.

    Comment by Granny | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  13. I’ve only seen the melters on the news and never in person, but I think the snow gets dumped into trucks or dumpster-style containers that actually do the melting. It doesn’t happen where the snow lies. But I’m not sure what they do with the water–I would guess it goes down the storm drains.

    Comment by Sharkey | December 29, 2005 | Reply

  14. Big northern city snow removal is so neat! I never saw this kind of operation in my small-town childhood, even though we got plenty of snow. By the time the spring melt came, the banks were much taller than me! I loved to walk along the tops. I have seen the giant snowblowers, though–they use them to clear the interstate.

    One thing that is weird to me about living in an area where snow is fairly common but not high volume is that home owners are expected to clear their own sidewalks. My hometown had a small fleet of sidewalk plows that made the rounds, tearing up everyone’s lawn, since the town employees who drove them seemed to be drunk.

    Comment by Mrs. Coulter | January 2, 2006 | Reply

  15. MrsC: Hello, and Welcome!

    One reason to shovel your own sidewalk would seem to be to avoid the drunken sidewalk plowmen!

    I used to live in Toronto where, as you say, snow is common but not too high volume, and we were indeed expected to shovel our own walks. Even after thirteen years in Ottawa, I shovel my own sidewalk, in part just to get me out of the house, but also because you can do a much better job with a shovel than the machines do. Can’t have clientele taking a header on your sidewalk, particularly when there always seems to be one who’s pregnant!

    Comment by Mary P. | January 2, 2006 | Reply

  16. […] is being plowed today! And not just plowed, no, today we’re getting the whole deal! Today is SNOWBANK REMOVAL! First, a pass with the […]

    Pingback by Something exciting this way comes… « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | February 8, 2012 | Reply

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