Toronto Disasters: Devastation and Tragedies That Made the Headlines.


120 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-1-55439-032-X
DDC 971.3'541




Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Toronto, Canada’s largest city, has been the scene of eight disasters in the last 100 years. While there’s no shortage of general, broad-stroke histories of the city, Horibe’s approach breaks the mould by presenting a short, focused slice of history that moves quickly from event to event as the city develops and matures.


The disasters selected for inclusion include the 1904 fire that wiped out much of the downtown core (98 buildings and 220 businesses destroyed), a cruise ship fire in 1949 that resulted in 118 deaths, and Hurricane Hazel in 1954 (81 dead, 4000 families homeless). More recent catastrophes covered include power blackouts in 1965 and 2003, a plane crash in 1970 (109 dead), the collision of two subway trains in 1995, a record snowfall in 1999, and the 2001 invasion of the city by trillions of soybean aphids.


The work is based both on archival research and contemporary interviews. The style is fast-paced, rich with specific details of names of individuals involved, times, dates, and locations. Background information is limited to just enough to help the reader understand the context, such as the nature of firefighting services in 1904.


Torontonians, history buffs, and anyone attracted to human interest stories will find the work enjoyable.


Horibe, Kathlyn., “Toronto Disasters: Devastation and Tragedies That Made the Headlines.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,