Atlantic Canada's Greatest Storms

Reviewed by Beverley Tallon

Posted November 19, 2020

A major January 2020 snowstorm produced high winds, power outages, and up to ninety-three centimetres of snow in parts of eastern Newfoundland. It was a reminder of the potential for volatile weather along the country’s east coast.

In Atlantic Canada’s Greatest Storms, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based author Dan Soucoup chronicles the impacts of previous natural disasters, which, in addition to blizzards, included hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and tsunamis. For instance, he takes readers back to the year 1745 and the Grand Armada Tragedy. When an expedition sent from France to recapture Nova Scotia from the British faced intense squalls while crossing the Atlantic, the resulting hardship and illness were so severe that it was France’s final attempt to retake the area.

Soucoup also recounts the 1929 earthquake on the Grand Banks, a series of submerged plateaus southeast of Newfoundland. The quake produced an underwater landslide and a rare Atlantic tsunami that struck the south coast of Newfoundland, killing twenty-eight people and leaving many homeless on the Burin Peninsula.

During the Great Depression, the financial struggles were compounded in Atlantic Canada by a series of tropical storms that ravaged the region in the 1930s. Wind speeds up to 185 kilometres per hour, torrential rains, and flooding produced death and destruction in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.

Photographs, notes, and a timeline help Soucoup’s readers understand both the history of the region and the fury of its storms.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2020-January 2021 issue of Canada’s History.

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