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Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Hurricane Hazel

October 15, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)

(Credits: CBC Archives, “Hurricane Hazel: 'A wind with a woman's name'”; Medium: Television; Program: CBC Television News; Broadcast Date: Sept. 29, 1959; Duration: 2:25)




(Credits: CBC Archives, “Hurricane Hazel floods Toronto”; Medium: Television; Program: CBC Television News; Broadcast Date: Dec. 16, 1954; Guest: Paul Williamson; Host: John O'Leary;
Reporter: Ian MacIntosh; Duration: 9:14)


On October 15 and beyond, take a moment to reflect upon the destructive power and aftermath of Hurricane Hazel that struck southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area on October 15, 1954 after affecting various Caribbean countries and several American states along the eastern seaboard. Hurricane Hazel merged with a strong cold front over the state of Pennsylvania and turned northwest towards Ontario. 95 people in the United States lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Hazel. Consequently, Hurricane Hazel (a category 1 hurricane) hit southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area as an extratropical storm, resulting in major flooding from overflowing rivers and streams and an already saturated water table. 81 people in Canada died from Hurricane Hazel, including 35 individuals who lost their lives when much of Raymore Drive and 32 adjacent houses in Etobicoke were swept away. 1,868 families in Toronto were left homeless due to Hurricane Hazel out of a total of 4,000 families in southern Ontario. One of the lasting legacies from Hurricane Hazel was the creation of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) in 1957 that used land use planning and regulations to encourage the creation of parkland and dam construction along floodplains to avoid future occurrences of the magnitude of damage and loss of life that resulted from Hurricane Hazel. For example, the Scouts’ Camp of the Crooked Creek in Scarborough closed down in June 1968 and was taken over by the then-Metropolitan Toronto Conservation Authority that did not permit people to inhabit flood-prone areas. This area is now the Morningside Park area of the Highland Creek Park.  

Consider the following non-fiction titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Rain tonight a story of Hurricane Hazel

Rain tonight: a story of Hurricane Hazel / Steve Pitt; illustrated by Heather Collins, 2004. Children’s Non-Fiction.  J 363.34922 PIT.

The author was born the evening that Hurricane Hazel struck and parlayed his fascination with the subject into this book. Follow the account of 8-year old Penny Doucette and her family and their elderly neighbour clinging to a house roof as the neighbouring house floated away on the Humber River.


Hurricane Hazel Canada's storm of the century

Hurricane Hazel: Canada's storm of the century / Jim Gifford, 2004. Adult Non-Fiction.  363.34922 GIF

Read a fiftieth anniversary account of the destruction and loss of life wrought by Hurricane Hazel. 81 people died in southern Ontario, including 32 residents of Raymore Drive in Etobicoke who had to contend with an eight foot rise in the Humber River in the span of one hour, and five volunteer firefighters who drowned attempting to reach motorists trapped in their automobiles.


Hurricane Hazel / Betty Kennedy, 1979. Adult Non-Fiction. 551.552 K / 971.3 KEN

Broadcaster and journalist Kennedy authored this book to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Hurricane Hazel striking southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.


Consider the following novel from Toronto Public Library collections that encompasses Hurricane Hazel in the storyline:

The carnivore a novel

The carnivore / Mark Sinnett, 2009. Adult Fiction. FICTION SIN. Also available in eBook format (2011).

A young police officer named Ray Townes emerges as a hero in saving trapped Humber River residents from the wrath of Hurricane Hazel. Meanwhile, Ray’s wife Mary, a nurse, is wracked with doubts about Ray’s heroism when she meets a disoriented woman near death in the emergency room at the hospital whose recollection of events differ from Ray’s story.


Children wishing to read a story including Hurricane Hazel can try the following easy-to-read title:

Written on the wind / Anne Dublin and Avril Woodend, 2001. Children’s Easy-to-Read. ER DUB

This story is set in the 1950s around the time of Hurricane Hazel. Sarah is afraid when her Ouija board forecasts that terrible things are going to happen.


Please visit the TPL History: Hurricane Hazel hits Toronto (October, 1954) page to view additional images about Hurricane Hazel.


(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering John Kenneth Galbraith )

(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Kenneth Taylor)


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