Remembering Hurricane Hazel: October 15: Snapshots in History

October 15, 2016 | John P.

Comments (0)

On October 15 and beyond, take a moment to reflect upon the destructive power and aftermath of Hurricane Hazel which 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. Ninety five 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 extra-tropical storm, resulting in major flooding from overflowing rivers and streams and an already saturated water table. Eighty-one 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. More than 1,800 families in Toronto were left homeless due to Hurricane Hazel out of a total of 4,000 families affected in southern Ontario.

One of the lasting legacies from Hurricane Hazel was the creation of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) in 1957. TRCA used land use planning and regulations to encourage the creation of parkland and dam construction along floodplains to avoid future occurrences of the 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, which 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

(Children's Non-Fiction Book)

The author was born the evening that Hurricane Hazel struck and parlayed his fascination with the subject into this book. Follow the account of eight-year-old Penny Doucette, 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

(Adult Non-Fiction Book)                        (Adult Non-Fiction eBook)

Read a fiftieth anniversary account of the destruction and loss of life wrought by Hurricane Hazel. Eighty-one people died in southern Ontario, including 32 residents of Raymore Drive in Etobicoke. The latter 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

(Adult Non-Fiction Book)

Broadcaster and journalist Kennedy authored this book to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel striking southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.

Consider the following novel which encompasses Hurricane Hazel in the storyline:


The carnivore a novel

 (Adult Fiction Book)

 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 Book)

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.




Please consider viewing the following blog posts on weather-related local history topics:

Remembering the Toronto Islands: April 13: Snapshots in History

Remembering the “Great” Snowstorm of 1944: December 11-12: Snapshots in History

Remembering the December 20-23, 2013 Ice Storm: Snapshots in History

Remembering the Toronto Flood of 2013: July 8: Snapshots in History