Coldest Night of Your Life

Coldest Night of Your Life

This year, as a fundraiser we are participating in Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY), a 2-5 km walk on February 26 aimed towards raising awareness and funds. The idea is, by walking just 2 Kilometers, we will have a better glimpse at what people living on the streets during these cold times deal with.

The exact wording their website uses is:

‘By walking in the cold, you’ll feel a hint of the challenge faced by those experiencing homelessness during winter. By fundraising, you’ll be contributing much-needed money to a charity in your town that is bringing hope and help to people in your community who need support.’

The thing is, I have lived through cold temperatures, I grew up in Canada, I know what winter feels like. Yet I have no recollection of the coldest night of this year or last year, or the year before that, or any year before that. I can remember times where I’ve been cold, sure, but the coldest night? I’d have no idea what to list. So I started asking myself why that is? Why can’t I remember the coldest night of my life. I asked my coworker Kristina and she was in the same boat. She could not remember her coldest night. We have been fortunate enough to feel cold but not have it impact our lives in a way that made it memorable.

I decided to then ask some of our friends at Helping Hands and everyone I asked had a personal memory of when they believed it was coldest. I asked everyone the same question, ‘what is the coldest night you can remember?’ and received the responses below. For one reason or another, they remembered their coldest night. Be it because they were working, walking, pregnant or living on the street, some aspect of their life made the coldest night memorable.

The truth of the matter is, I will likely experience my coldest night some time in the future, as will the person reading this, if they haven’t already. It may not be as cold as Sean’s experience or as hard as Sarah’s but it will be cold and it will be memorable. In recognition of that, and to gain some much needed awareness, I’m participating in CNOY this year. I encourage you to do the same, either by joining us and walking or donating to us here. Help us support people going through their coldest night.


It was literally up past my knees. It happened in 2008 as I was giving birth to my second son, it was 2008 was the worst storm. It was about minus 30 out but felt like minus 40. And it was February.


You couldn’t walk or see anything. There was a blizzard. I couldn’t see part of my face. I walked to Timmies in it, it was near February. The snow was up to my knees.


When I worked at Salvation Army, we worked one day, it was snowing and blowing everywhere, you know.


The coldest night I can remember? That probably would have been two years ago and two weeks before Christmas, it was really really cold. I know because I almost died that night because I ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks with frost bite and everything. I was sleeping in a tent for two years. The one night I was so cold, I was sleeping in front of the Wesley centre. I used hand sanitizer [….] and a piece of metal […] to start a fire. I used to get the big bottle of hand sanitizer for free.


1986, above the artic circle in Norway, on NATO exercises, it was minus 51. We didn’t dare turn our engines off. The batteries would freeze and rupture because of all the water in it. Yeah, it was cold.


I lived up North for the past couple years. It dropped down to minus 37 at one point. It was an isolated town […] all around the town it was an open area. One time we got – the whole town was warned about 6 hours in advance – within a three hour span we got 4 and a half feet of snow So literally everybody had to get groceries, get everything they needed because nobody was getting anywhere. I was digging out my front door.

written by Samantha Togeretz, outreach worker at Helping Hands Street Mission