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Ontario GenWeb Project: Disasters
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Below is a listing of known Disasters. If you know of any that aren't listed, please send them in


  • 1804 - On the way to Presqu'ile Point, the Schooner 'Speedy' sank in Lake Ontario causing all aboard to drown, including some of Upper Canada's leading citizens

  • 1853 - Steamer 'Ocean Wave' burned and sank (more...)

  • 1857 - Steamer 'Montreal' burned and sank (more...)

  • 1857 - The famous train wreck at Des Jardines Canal, caused by a bridge collapse, which killed 66 people on 17 Mar.1857. Submitted by Tim Lowrey

  • 1884 - Grand Trunk train wreck in Toronto on 2 Jan.1884 which claimed 30 lives. Submitted by Tim Lowrey

  • 1898 - Apparently the floor of City Hall in London, Ontario collapsed on 3 Jan.1898 killing 30. Submitted by Tim Lowrey

  • 1907 - Nitro-glycerine explosion in Essex County (Explosion Shattered Essex in 1907). Submitted by Sharon Mulcaster.

  • 1910 - In Sudbury a CPR passenger train crashes and 43 people are killed

  • 1915 - Streetcar slid off the tracks at Queenston Heights (due to heavy rains) and rolled down the escarpment on 7 July 1915, killing 15. Dead all members of 2 Toronto churchs attending picnic. Submitted by Tim Lowrey

  • 1953 - Near Morrisburg 20 people drown when the bus they were travelling in plunges down an embankment into a canal in the St. Lawrence River

  • 1941 - Near Armstrong, 12 people are killed as their Trans-Canada airplane crashes into the bush

  • 1980 - Gas Explosion in Essex County. Occured on 14 Feb 1980 when a gas meter was hit by a car eventually causing a huge explosion, levelling buildings and causing extensive damage in the town. Young man was buried in the rubble but his burned hands were spotted sticking up and he was rescued. He did however lose both his hands and lower arms. Submitted by Sharon Mulcaster.

  • 1989 - In Dryden, 24 people are killed when an Air Ontario plane crashes during takeoff


  • 1788 - Famine hits Upper Canada (Ontario) when crops failed the previous year

  • 1819 (Summer) Denise Both states: I was reading the "Historical Atlas of Lincoln & Welland Ontario" - by H.R. Page (1876), and found reference to a disasterous fire. On page 9, in the 3rd column, 1st full paragraph, there is mention of a f'ire in the summer of 1819: "that swept through part of the Counties of Lincoln and Welland, destroying the forests and in many instances the out-buildings and homes of the farmers. Owing to the drought which had continued some months everything was as dry as tinder, and at night the flames sweeping everything down before them could be seen for many miles; many of our oldest citizens remember the "big fire" and say a most desolate scene greeted the eye whichever way it might be turned. Scores of people lost nearly all they were worth by the devouring element, which held sway for several days."

  • 1904 (19 Apr 1904) - Great Fire of Toronto
    Submitted by Debbie Byers

  • 1911 - In Northern Ontario (near Cochrane) a forest fire kills 70 people and destroys the town of South Porcupine

  • 1916 - In Northern Ontario, the worst forest fire in the history of Canada kills close to 300 people and destroys several small communities

  • 1922 - In Haileybury close to 50 people lose their lives in a forest fire

  • 1949 - September 16, 1949 the S.S. Noronic burned in Toronto Harbour. 118 passengers lost their lives. Submitted by DeckerCommand

  • 1954 - (15 Oct 1954) Hurricane Hazel hits Southern Ontario killing 83 people. Toronto is the hardest hit.


  • 1812-1815 - War of 1812. Attacks were mostly on the Detroit River, Niagara River & St Lawrence River

  • 1866 - Fenian Raids into Canada from the US

  • 1899-1902 - South African War. Because Canada was part of the British empire, Canadian troops were sent to South Africa to fight. This is also known as the 'Boer War'. 135 Canadians are killed

  • 1914-1918 - First World War. Over 60,000 Canadians are killed

  • 1939-1945 - Second World War. Over 40,000 Canadians are killed

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