It's been 23 years since Toronto called in the army after a major snowstorm

It's been more than two decades since a series of winter storms buried Toronto under a metre of snow, forcing then-mayor Mel Lastman to call on the military to help the city dig out.

The first storm arrived on Jan. 2, 1999 and dropped almost 38 centimetres of snow, causing commuter chaos in the city's downtown core.

By Jan. 4, Lastman had declared a "snow emergency" and banned parking on certain snow routes.

Over the next week it continued to snow, with another 21 centimetres falling on Jan. 12.

The cumulative damage from the snowfall paralyzed the city's roads and public transit system.

With more snow predicted in the forecast, Lastman asked the federal defence minister for aid.

"I'm petrified by what could happen tomorrow," Lastman said, while at a press conference on Jan. 13.

An immediate response unit based out of Petawawa, Ont., which included 540 soldiers and reservists and more than 100 vehicles, was sent to the city.

"Most places we go into, the people don't want us there," one Canadian soldier told CTV News Toronto at the time. "It's a nice thing to help your own Canadian people."

The predicament was a source of humour for newspapers across the country with many poking fun at the city, a situation that didn't sit well with Lastman.

"They can laugh, they can do anything they damn well want," he said. "But come on down here and see what Toronto's going through."

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With files from the Canadian Press and CTV News Toronto