Killer Snow: Avalanches in Newfoundland and Labrador.


216 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-897317-02-0
DDC 551.57'84809718





Reviewed by Melvin Baker

Melvin Baker is an archivist and historian at Memorial University of
Newfoundland, and the co-editor of Dictionary of Newfoundland and
Labrador Biography.


David Liverman is a geologist who works for the Geological Survey of Newfoundland and Labrador and has been researching geological hazards in the province for many years. In this interesting and informative account, Liverman dispels the popular notion that avalanches generally occur in Western Canada and not Eastern Canada. On the contrary, Liverman notes, the earliest known avalanche recorded in Canada took place in Labrador, in the colony and dominion of Newfoundland (before 1949 when Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province).

Avalanches, he notes, are comparatively unknown in the province and his main purpose with the book is to raise public awareness of the dangers they pose. The book documents over 40 instances of avalanches that have resulted in at least 60 known deaths. The most deadly was the one in Nain, Labrador, in 1781, which claimed 22 lives and, like most of the deaths Liverman explains, these were the result of houses being erected too close to hills and cliffs. On the island of Newfoundland, many settlements were established close to the shoreline for fishing purposes and this often meant near hilly terrain rising sharply from that shoreline, such as in a section of St. John’s Harbour known as the Battery.

In the book’s introductory chapters, Liverman explains how avalanches are created and concludes with useful information on how the public can practise greater safety to avoid them. As people are using the countryside in greater numbers for recreational enjoyment during the winter, it is more important than ever that people recognize the signs of a potential avalanche in the area they are visiting and how they can survive if caught in the “Killer Snow.”


Liverman, David., “Killer Snow: Avalanches in Newfoundland and Labrador.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,