Disasters of Ontario: 75 Stories of Courage and Chaos.


256 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-1-894864-14-5
DDC 971.3




Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto broadcaster and public relations


Divided into three sections, “Natural Disasters,” “Accidental Disasters,” and “Wartime Disasters,” this book is a carefully researched document that details the tragic events that have befallen the province of Ontario from as far back as 1600 to as recently as late 2005.


The author dedicates the book “to all those who have died in Ontario’s disasters … and those who may die in disasters of the future.” The 75 short chapters that describe these disasters and their dire consequences include examples of many sinkings of ships on the Great Lakes, including the sinking of the Fitzgerald, which has been memorialized in song; devastating fires such as the toxic Hagersville tire fire that took 17 days just to contain; train wrecks, airline crashes, disease epidemics such as cholera, polio, SARS, and E-coli; and the cruel aftermath of vicious storms, such as the ice storm of 1998, tornadoes, and hurricanes like Hazel.


These events offer a wealth of information to readers who were not involved in the events and evoke vivid memories for those who survived them. Author René Biberstein’s journalism background and his two-year stint as a “walking tour guide in southern Ontario” provide him with the tools that render this book of interest to multiple generations. Laurel Christie’s meticulous research is acknowledged by the author and brings an added level of immediacy and authenticity to the work.


It is humbling to consider that Ontario has not been and will not in future be exempt from major disasters. Biberstein’s book reminds us of the tragic human and economic costs to us all as a result of these disasters. There is much food for thought and reflection in these pages.


Biberstein, RenĂ©., “Disasters of Ontario: 75 Stories of Courage and Chaos.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28600.