“Vacuuming” Snow

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We had a lot of snow this winter: each winter storm brought 30 centimeters of the white stuff and we were literally snowed under every time. Fortunately, we had signed up for a snow shoveling service to clear the driveway and they did an okay job every time—I don’t mind shoveling ten or even fifteen centimeters of snow, but when it’s wet and heavy, clearing the driveway is almost impossible.

One of the questions my family asks me most often is: “But where do you put all that snow?”

Well, anywhere we can—on the lawn, on the side of the road, at the end of the driveway… The result is massive snow piles scattered in every neighborhood. They can get pretty high and it’s dangerous when they block part of the street, since you can’t see the traffic when you back off your driveway. They also block the drains and create floods everywhere.

So, once in a while, the city “vacuums” the snow.

Huge trucks and machines are dispatched in every neighborhood. Large snow blowers “cut” the snow banks, and “vacuum” the snow, which is loaded into a large truck. The snow is then hauled into one of the many “snow dumps”—yes, there are such things in Canada.

No wonder the snow removal budget for Ottawa amounts to millions of dollars every year!

You can see the full Win­ter – Ottawa on Flickr.

Just Came Back From The Supermarket... Walking in the Blizzard!

Just Came Back From The Supermarket… Walking in the Blizzard!

Massive Pile of Snow in Front of the House

Massive Pile of Snow in Front of the House

Vacuuming The Snow

Vacuuming The Snow

Hauling Winter Away

Hauling Winter Away


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. Wow, Canada sure knows its snow! I’ve never heard of snow being vacuumed though, even in Buffalo. I guess living in that part of North America toughens up people; winter here is meh compared to my 7-year-experience of Buffalo winters. I am sure Ottawa winters are a bigger deal!

    • Really, they don’t vacuum snow in Buffalo? Maybe a budget thing… Ottawa is the capital and is richer I guess. Cause I think Buffalo gets a lot of snow too!

  2. Salut Zhu,

    We are really not in France!
    You saw the “piddly” ammount that we had a few weeks back( in one of my photo challenges). Just a few inches where I am. When it snows, the cities salt the roads for the drivers. But, you guys really have much more hasardous driving conditions.

    It’s nice to see your smiling face. I hope that life is good!

    • Life is busy and challenging at times… but fun! 😉

      I think I only saw “snow” (really, just an inch of it!) in Nantes once, back when I was a kid.

  3. I heard that in Montréal (and maybe in many other canadian cities), they used to dump it in the rivers. That’s crazy! Thank god it seems forbidden now…

  4. I was so happy to see that Ottawa is very snow-clean compared to Quebec. Here in la ville not as much money is spent on snow vacuuming (I don’t know the numbers, I see t every day lol).

  5. It’s funny, but I don’t remember these trucks at all during my childhood. When I was in Canada at Christmas I saw them everywhere, though.

    I sure don’t miss having to shovel snow in Ottawa…and then having it blow back in my face. No, I don’t miss that.

    I think my parents should hire the services of a snow removal company as well. They come with their big bulldozer truck and remove the snow really quickly.

    I like a snowy landscape, but I sure don’t want to clean it!

  6. When I was a child in Ottawa I used to be afraid of drowning in the snow, hahaha.

    I figured that there was so much of it that if I stood on top of a mound of snow, that I would fall right through.

    Another great childhood memory: sledding down the hill in Mooney’s Bay. Great times!

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