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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—and it was entirely encrusted in ice. Ten years ago this month, the infamous ice storm (actually, a devastating succession of three such storms) lashed Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, killing at least 25 people and leaving millions without power, some for weeks on end. For those of us who lived through the storm and its aftermath, the images will remain forever, be it hydro towers violently crumpled like so much tin foil or the haunting beauty of ice-encrusted Montreal, blacked-out and illuminated only by moonlight.
Like the rest of the city, McGill was hit hard. But while the university closed for a week, the McGill community did not rest. Under the leadership of managers and building directors, dozens of electricians, mechanics, plumbers, foremen, grounds-keepers and cleaners toiled around the clock to minimize the impact of lengthy power outages and to restore the damaged campus to working order as quickly as possible.
Above all, McGill's spirit shone through. There was large-scale altruism such as the group of law students who ignored their own privations to help coordinate the donation and delivery of much-needed supplies to Quebec's hardest hit areas; and then-Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Deborah Buszard, who spearheaded the effort to buy generators for local farmers and get them in their hands before their farms were lost. And, of course, there were those smaller acts of kindness—Marc-André Langlois, manager of the Gault Nature Reserve, scrounging up kerosene heaters to help 75 research chipmunks survive the cold; and Patrick Blue, Supervisor, Mac Campus Security, housing a dozen snakes from the blacked-out Ecomuseum in his office along with a colleague's two pet cockatoos. Big or small, we took care of them all.