The Quinpool Comet

This is a happy story except for the very bad thing that happens in the beginning. The rest is such good news it somehow makes the bad thing feel like… magic? fantasy? It is also an old story from the mid 1990s.

It was a cold winter morning. We had an old, used Volvo station wagon that took a little while to warm up so we drove bundled in heavy gloves and hats. As you drive through the Rotary the morning view is sublime when the low winter sun lines up with the entrance to the Arm. That morning the rush hour traffic was close-packed and moving smoothly. All four lanes on Quinpool Road were full. We were in the inner lane.  At the sharp curve where the road starts uphill I’m always mindful of traffic coming down the hill because it feels like they might slide out of their lane.


As we entered the curve our windshield suddenly disappeared. By this I mean there was no glass left in the opening. A section had folded in on my heavily gloved hands on the steering wheel and we were covered with a million shards of glass but we were driving with nothing but the cold wind in our faces. The X (comic sans) marks approximately where we were.


Because there was no warning or threat, my memory is that I did not brake – it felt like the safe thing to do was keep going. It was a moment before I could/dared look over at Sheila and she at me. Our faces were covered with tiny glass cuts but otherwise we appeared to be unharmed and astonished.

The reasonable thing to do was drive to emergency and in those days there were two choices. The old Infirmary tended to be less busy so with care we drove there. I remember at red lights looking straight ahead realizing how strange we must look and not wanting to engage people in other cars.

It was kinder gentler times so there was a parking place across from the Emergency entrance on Queen Street (sort of where the back plaza of the new Library is located). The medical folks looked at Sheila first because she had some glass in an eye and then cleaned my tiny facial scratches. While in Emergency our friend Karen came in looking very worried. She had seen our parked and windshield-less car and came looking for us expecting the worst.

Then we were able to go outside and survey the damage and try to reconstruct what had happened. The major evidence was that the back of the station-wagon was filled with ice – hard, jagged, old looking ice. There was a small dent in the centre of the chrome strip at the top of the windshield.

We really saw nothing but this feels like the best explanation: a transport truck coming down Quinpool had ice on the roof of the container.  As the truck entered the downhill curve the ice released and kept going straight.  This comet of ice dropped on our windshield at precisely the right place to remove the glass and then hurled between Sheila and I into the back of the car.  Neither of us saw the ice- there were many things happening in that instant. The wire rimmed glasses I was wearing were totally distorted so the comet was that close but didn’t actually touch me.

See what I mean about things going magically right? If the comet had been one way or the other we could have been like a Kids in the Hall sketch (generational humour). If the windshield had not disappeared completely I could easily have driven blindly into vehicles that were moving quickly on all 4 sides.

We called our mechanic who said he’d take care of the car. Karen drove us to get my glasses straightened out and dropped us off at work by about 9:30.

Whenever I recall this experience it reminds me to celebrate my existence and when I see a car or truck on the highway covered with snow I get out of the way.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.