Hurricane Hazel

Overview

On October 15, 1954, Hurricane Hazel battered southern Ontario, leaving in its wake a terrible toll: thousands homeless, million in property damage, and, worst of all, 81 people dead. Hazel destroyed bridges, submerged towns, and drowned unsuspecting Ontarians in their homes and cars. Raymore Drive in Weston was decimated when the Humber River swelled by eight feet, taking the lives of 32 residents in only one hour. In Etobicoke, five volunteer firemen drowned while trying to reach marooned motorists. Towns and villages from Toronto north to Timmins felt Hazel’s fury.

After the storm, people walked the now-surreal streets of their towns: cars upside-down and wrapped in power lines, iceboxes and dead cows hanging from trees, houses flattened, toys and furniture floating down the street.

On the 50th anniversary of the storm, Jim Gifford has captured that fatal night in the voices of those who survived it, from residents who lived along the surging Humber River to a policeman who rescued families from their rooftops to firemen and Boy Scouts who searched for victims along the riverbanks. Including more than 100 never-before-published photographs, Hurricane Hazel: Canada’s Storm of the Century documents one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history.

Reviews

"Of interest to history buffs and storm junkies, Hurricane Hazel: Canada's Storm of the Century ... is Jim Gifford's homage to one of the worst natural disasters to hit Toronto."

Quill and Quire (September, 2004)

"Hurricane Hazel is a deftly-woven, heart-wrenching tale that sweeps readers through remembered history of the night, or drops those who were too young for the experience into the horror of massive detritus, death and disease."

Destinations and Discoveries Reviews (January, 2004)

About the Authors

Jim Gifford

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Jim Gifford

Jim Gifford is a freelance writer and a professional book editor. A frequent guest speaker in the publishing industry, he has written for several publications, including Where Toronto magazine and The Beaver. He teaches creative non-fiction at the University of Toronto. Gifford lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Mike Filey

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Mike Filey

Mike Filey was born in Toronto in 1941. He has written more than two dozen books on various facets of Toronto's past and for more than thirty-five years has contributed a popular column, "The Way We Were," to the Toronto Sunday Sun. His Toronto Sketches series is more popular now than ever before.