Throughout history, the world has experienced a number of deadly disasters. These events range from natural disasters to pandemic diseases. Canada has been no exception to this occurrence. This article takes a closer look at the top 5 deadliest recorded disasters that have ever happened in Canada.
1. Spanish Flu – 50,000
The Spanish Flu of 1918 ravaged Canada and to date is the worst disaster in the country's history. It is also referred to as the 1918 flu pandemic, and it lasted from January of 1918 until December of 1920. The disease not only affected the Canadian populace. This H1N1 influenza virus infected over 500 million individuals and killed between 3% and 5% of the world’s population. It is believed to have caused more deaths than the Black Plague. In Canada, an estimated 50,000 people died.
2. Newfoundland Hurricane Of 1775 – 4,000
On September 9, 1775, a hurricane hit the island of Newfoundland, which makes up part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The communities along the coast relied on the fishing industry as their main economic activity. When the storm hit, it destroyed the vast majority of the fishing boats as well as 2 armed ships from the British Royal Navy. In addition, the winds and rains caused a storm surge of between 20 and 30 feet, flooding the shoreline. The Newfoundland Hurricane is the first one on record for Canada and its deadliest natural disaster. It caused at least 4,000 deaths.
3. Cascadia Earthquake Of 1700 – est. thousands
The third deadliest disaster to hit Canada was the Cascadia earthquake on January 26, 1700. This earthquake registered between 8.7 and 9.2 off the coast of British Columbia and as far south as present-day northern California. It was so strong that it caused a tsunami in Japan. Because written records were not common in North America at this time, most of the information surrounding this disaster has been estimated. Scientists have relied on Japanese records of the tsunami as well as tree ring studies from the coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada. Additionally, oral stories told by the indigenous peoples throughout this area all refer to a destructive earthquake complete with coastal flooding. Exact numbers are unknown, but estimates suggest that at least several thousand individuals died during this disaster.
4. Halifax Explosion – 2,000
On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the Narrows strait between Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The SS Imo, a Norwegian ship, steered into the SS Mont-Blanc, a French ship carrying explosives. The accident caused the cargo to explode. The explosion was so strong that it reached the town of Halifax, located in the province of Nova Scotia. It is recorded as the largest man-made explosion in the world to occur prior to the invention of nuclear weapons. The entire Richmond district was ruined, including buildings and trees. Additionally, the force caused a tsunami in Tuft’s Cove, killing the entire Mi’kmaq First Nations peoples. In total, approximately 2,000 people were killed.
5. Tseax Cone Eruption – 2,000
The Tseax Cone volcano erupted sometime between 1668 and 1714. The resulting lava flow blocked the Tseax river, creating the Lava Lake. Written records of this event do not exist, however the Nisga’a tribe has an oral tradition which tells the story of the eruption. According to these stories, two villages were completely destroyed. The ash and carbon dioxide that were released killed approximately 2,000 people. This makes the Tseax Cone volcano eruption the worst geophysical disaster in Canada’s history.