A wall of water blocked the entrance to Ecole Emilie Tremblay Monday afternoon, flooding the school’s main hallway.
Outside, a fountain of water sprayed from the roof — coating the sidewalk in ice.
“We’ve been having trouble here all day,” said the school’s engineer, hurrying into the building.
Outside, firefighters ran back and forth with big plastic recycling bins, trying to catch at least some of the water before it turned to ice.
The school children were nowhere to be seen.
The hallways were empty, except for firefighters who were trying to contain the growing lake with large squeegees.
When principal Helen Saint-Onge, who’d been away at a downtown meeting, arrived, she requested a moment in private with the firefighters.
Then she explained the problem.
“We had trouble with the boilers this morning,” she said.
“One of them was down.
“So, when we got here, the school didn’t have much heat.”
The lack of heat probably caused the pipes above the door to freeze, she said.
And Emilie Tremblay’s 150 students were all at the daycare next-door.
“It’s our emergency plan,” she said.
But at minus 40 Celsius, even walking that couple hundred metres was an adventure for some of the students.
“We were in gym when the fire alarm went off,” said Grade 8 student Richard Galloway, noting that lots of kids had to head out in shorts and T-shirts.
“And I had to carry my friend, because he only had his socks on,” he said.
“It was Canadian torture,” joked Grade 8 student Martin Eyolfson.
Tuesday morning things were back to normal, although kids have been using the school’s side doors, because the main entrance was like a skating rink.