During the early of January in 1998, three consecutive ice-storms devastated eastern Canada. Trees and power lines were knocked down, streets and sidewalks were coated with ice, and thousands of Canadians found themselves facing the winter chill without power. On January 8, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick declared a state of emergency and requested the aid of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Many of the Ontario soldiers were on Christmas leave when they were recalled to Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. Within 24 hours the troops had assembled at the military base and were ready to move out. When they arrived in eastern Canada’s devastated communities they found that the roads had been blocked with fallen trees and that some people hadn’t had power for three days.
The troops quickly got to work clearing roads for emergency vehicles, restoring telephone communication, removing debris, delivering badly needed supplies, assisting the local police, and visiting homes to identify at-risk individuals. Two soldiers even helped a dairy farmer milk his cows!
Over 14,000 Canadian troops participated in Operation Recuperation making it the largest peacetime military deployment in Canada’s history.
Photo: A Convoy of troops from Petawawa arrive in Ottawa to assist their fellow Canadians during the state of emergency, January 9, 1998. (Credit: Sgt Marsha St-Dennis, DGPA/J5PA from the Canadian Armed Forces Imagery Gallery/ISC98-002-13)