A Creepy Winter Night

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A Creepy Winter Night

Canada experiences a dramatic change of scenery between the two main seasons, summer and winter. But snow doesn’t just change the landscape, it also affects the overall atmosphere and mood.

During summer, days are long, humid and sunny and people make the most of it by engaging in as many outdoor activities as possible. But once a blanket of snow falls and the days get shorter, we all become hobbits. Suddenly, nothing is more appealing than a cup of hot chocolate, a movie and layers of clothes and blankets. People are less chatty and more reserved—like if the cold had drained all the energy from them and what little they have left was used to fight winter.

This story took place in the peak of winter, in January 2008. I was very scared that night, and the winter atmosphere I just described was a creepy setting.

We live in a semi-detached home in Ottawa’s suburbs. It’s a typical Canadian suburban neighbourhood. Houses all look identical and are neatly lined up along a small street. We all nod at each other when we pass in the street, but I can’t say people really know each other. Canadians are very polite but also quite reserved.

That winter, we experienced a record snowfall. A series of snowstorms had left piles of snow everywhere. It was also very cold, probably around – 30°C.

We didn’t have anything to do that night. Around 6 pm, Feng decided to drive to the video store to get a movie. I stayed in to take a warm shower and I locked the door behind him.

I emerged from the shower twenty minutes later. Time went by and I suddenly realized Feng had been gone for a while. I put on my winter coat and stepped out to see if it had started snowing again. I can see our driveway and the main street from our tiny porch. It took me a couple of seconds to process the scene.

Five or six police cars had parallel parked along the street, one of them blocking our driveway. And a bunch of guys in uniform were getting out of them.

I stood there for a minute and stepped back in the house. I paused by the door and stepped out again, unsure of what to do. I looked at them from the porch. They weren’t regular cops, they looked like a Canadian SWAT team with their shields, masks and guns. They didn’t look too friendly either.

Eventually, one of them spotted me. “Get back in the house, NOW!”, he yelled. “But my husband is out and…” I protested. “Nobody goes out, nobody goes in”, he yelled back.

I locked the door behind me and ran upstairs, in the bedroom facing the road, to see what was going on. The cops were gearing up and had set up a roadblock in our quiet residential neighbourhood. They were very quiet and I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if I hadn’t stepped out. Most houses had the curtains closed at this time of the day and snow muffles everything.

A moment later, I Feng showed up at the door. He had driven right into the roadblock and had been told to stay away. He had left the car and discreetly walked home. “What’s the hell is going on here?” “I have no idea”, I shrugged. “I hope they know what they are doing! It looks liked we are right in the middle of something”.

I brought another chair upstairs and we both sat by the window, watching the scene unfolding before our eyes. It didn’t take long before we got some action.

About twenty cops, all geared up with their shields, marks and guns, walked to a neighbouring house, down the street. They brought back to their cars two guys, shirtless and handcuffed. Some cars drove away, most of them stayed there.

The whole thing didn’t take long and went smoothly, as far as we could tell. We didn’t hear any loud noises anyway.

Then, the rest of the cops proceeded to remove every single piece of furniture from the house, putting in by the curb. The roadblock remained in effect for a few more hours, and the police eventually left.

We read the paper the following day to see what had been going on but we couldn’t find any mention of the incident. It was just so weird. I assumed the guys must have messed up pretty bad to justify this kind of arrest but we never learned what happened.

A creepy winter night, really.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. That’s eerie!
    It’s most intriguing…

    I actually love winter, but I think the pub culture makes things easier in Ireland. While it’s lashing rain outside, we sit in the pub by the fire and have a chat. I remember finding winters quite depressing in Nantes, which would have the same weather as Ireland, but here I actually find winter comforting.

  2. do me a favor
    and if you hear gunshots, don’t run to your window
    to see what is happening like almost everyone else does.
    don’t move your chairs upstairs to see better
    the shirtless guys in -30 degree weather who,
    if they hadn’t been wrapped in blankets, might have
    fired their guns wildly at anything or nothing
    because they were scared, or didn’t give a fruit
    when the police broke down the doors.

  3. Come on now. You can’t tell a story like that and just leave us hanging? I can see arresting a couple of thugs but what about the furniture? Was it picked up and hauled off by the police the next day? Picked up by Goodwill? Let’s have the rest of the story.

  4. Oh gosh this is so thrilling! Like watching a movie like that. Too bad you didn’t know what happen. It could have been a drama.

    To have mobilized the Canadian SWAT and 20+ police… It must’ve been a very serious case. Terrorists using a quiet suburban house as their lair to plan on their next mission? Hmmmm….

  5. Hi Zhu,
    Definately… creep zone.
    I would never forget that if it happened to me. I live in the sort of neighborhood where after 8p.m., passerby dwindle and it gets very still.
    But,it doesn’t snow like on your side in winter, so we could hear if there were trouble. And you know, people are already very curious here…

    That must have really been some hushed up affair to not put it in the paper the next day.

    Bises 😉

  6. Hi Zhu,

    Oh my…that was creepy indeed. And what annoys me is when these things happen in our neighbourhood, they never come in the news!
    When I was 6 years old a neighbour of mine murdered his wife – her body was lying on the ground full of blood and covered with a white sheet (that absorbed all the blood up)…creepy stuff. Never came in the news either…


  7. Glad that Feng managed to come home safely..are you still staying at this house still? Any happenings or unusual things of late in the neighbourhood?

    The latest in Spore now is about gang fights among youths and just couple of weeks ago, one was murdered by a group of youth aged 18 to 21 🙁

  8. I liked what you said about how people’s behaviours and attitudes change with the seasons; in summer we meet our neighbours and stop to chat on street corners, and in winter, we hibernate. It’s very true. I was thinking about that when you posted about how Canadians go all out when it comes to seasonal decorations and celebrations. My thought is that the two are connected. I wonder if putting up Hallowe’en and Xmas decorations, and planting spring bulbs and things like that are a way of sort of taking control over the changing seasons. The leaves fall and I put out a jack-o-lantern. I put up the Christmas lights, and the snow comes. It’s a way of acknowledging something that for us might be more profound than for people in other countries where the weather is less of a part of their lives, don’t you think? Canadian music and literature is full of talk of the changing seasons, often used as metaphors for other things (winter=death, snow=purity, spring=hope, summer=joy etc.) We’re more deeply affected by the seasons, so seasonal celebrations have more of an importance for us, as they did for the agricultural & pastoral societies whence they originate. What do you think of my theory?

  9. @Em – I hated winters in Nantes, they were so damp and depressing! Canada is usually fairly sunny when it’s very cold so at least we have some light.

    @Mr. G – I did take a couple of shots with my old camera but they weren’t very good, I doubt you could have seen anything. The furnitures were all seized by the police, it took all night!

    @Lizz – Could have been I guess. It happens once in a while!

    @Seraphine – We were scared for that exact reason! But as far as we could tell, everything went smoothly. Lucky us. We were right in the middle!

    @Tulsa Getleman – The furnitures were all seized by the police during the night. They put everything outside by the curb and took it all one by one. The next morning it was gone. I wish I had had more info too, we really wanted to know what happened!

    @kyh – Looking back, I’d say it was either a porn case (the computers were seized as well) or a drug bust.

    @Max Coutinho – We really read all the papers to know what happen but had no luck. I guess soemtimes it is better to keep the news quiet…

    @barbara – People are curious here too but given the cold and the snow, it’s not that surprising that barely anyone noticed what was going on outside. I guess the police chose the time on purpose!

    @shionge – Oh yeah, we are still living there. The area i very safe (Canada is a pretty safe place in general). This was out of the ordinary but I guess it could have happened in any neighborhood.

    @Nigel – Yeah, it was a weird neight!

    @Margaret – I agree, I think Canadians are definitely more affected by the change of season than in other countries, probably because the change is so brutal here. Acknowledging it it probably a mental trick to be able to stand it…

    @Cynthia – That’s exactly what happened, I don’t think we ever watched the movie we rented that night after that! 😆

    @London Caller – No, no point, at least everythign went smoothly.

  10. Wow, that was a creepy winter night indeed. Sometimes weird things just happen to us, whether it’s a creepy police scene in the middle of the night, or some other bizarre occurrence that we cannot explain at all.

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