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Canadian Stories of Lightning –  Historical Events Snapshots

From the Canadian Weather Trivia Calendar by Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips

British Columbia

  • January 14, 1919

    For nearly an hour, Vancouver experienced a riveting thunderstorm, with vivid lightning. A brilliant blue flash of flame, followed by a loud thunderclap, scared many residents. The storm severed two of BC Electric Railway’s four high-voltage transmission lines, paralyzing the system. Thousands of workers walked home in the rain and afternoon theatre crowds had no way to get home. 

  • January 16, 1935

    During a dazzling display of lightning, about 25 cm of snow fell on parts of Vancouver, its multicolored effect rivaling any sunset or rainbow. Almost 250 tobogganists had fun sliding down a steep city street, often stopping motorists to get a tow up. Two city workers shoveled and sanded the surface, thus spoiling the hill for sleighing. The sleigh-riders retaliated by sweeping away the sand.

  • March 9, 1918

    Weather experts were surprised by a winter thunderstorm in Vancouver. Experts couldn’t remember anything of the kind happening on the west coast so early in the year. Even the Aboriginals who viewed lightning as a reminder to children that there was “a brighter eye and a mightier voice than humans,” said they would have to sit down and think out an explanation for the phenomenon.

  • June 21, 2005

    In Burnaby, lightning struck a runner listening to religious music on his mp3 player. It ruptured his eardrums, fractured his jaw, inflicted first and second-degree burns from his chest up into his ear channels, and burned his left leg and foot, then obliterated his sneaker. He suffered 50 per cent hearing loss in both ears and could no longer play in the church orchestra. The mp3 player was burnt to a crisp. 

  • June 27, 1931

    A bolt of lightning struck a home in North Vancouver. The electric charge travelled down the side of the house and tore a large hole in the ground. The electric meter and basement windows vanished without a trace, but most mysterious of all was the disappearance of the copper wiring in one circuit; the rubber insulation of which showed no trace of char or burn.

  • July 13, 2004

    An editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, reported that his stove had exploded in a blinding white flash. Lightning had indeed struck an aluminum stack on the top of his house and travelled through it before discharging out the stove. Wrote the editor: “…had it happened a few seconds later, I would have been electrocuted while cooking up a batch of Kraft Dinner. What a way to go!"

  • August 15, 1932

    Vancouver sees far fewer lightning strikes than most Canadian cities, averaging six thunderstorm days a year. On this date, Vancouver had 12 hours of the most spectacular lightning in years. At times, the sun shone brightly through magnificent clouds, as thunder roared, lightning flashed and rain fell. At times the lightning gave the mountains the appearance of erupting volcanoes.

  • September 1, 2004

    In Southern BC, September roared in with high winds and driving rain. Winds gusted to 100 km/h, kicking up thick clouds of dust, uprooting trees, and cutting power to parts of Kamloops. The same storm triggered a lightning bolt that hit a construction worker in the Lower Mainland. The thunderstorm also set off alarms in a dozen buildings in Vancouver and seriously reduced visibility for drivers.

  • September 18, 2007

    A “sniper storm” hit Burnaby, cutting power to 4,000 homes and flooding four buildings. On a Coquitlam playing field, lightning struck three coaches. Said one: “There was a big flash of white and a boom….my hair stood up. My watch didn’t stop…neither did my heart.” Another said, “I…bought a lottery ticket but didn’t win so…getting struck by lightning and [winning] is…bunk.”

  • October 19, 1920

    Around 11:00 p.m. lightning struck the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, at the exact same point it had struck just a few weeks before. Fortunately, this time it did not set fire to the building, a few shattered shingles and two broken windows in the nursing home was the only damage. Patients were a little perturbed, but the staff soon ascertained there was no cause for alarm.

  • December 22, 2005

    A rare winter lightning strike in Victoria that left about 1,800 customers in Saanich without power, and more than 12 intersections without operating traffic lights. Lightning occurs in Victoria about three times a year.

Alberta

  • April 30, 1923

    In Drumheller, lightning struck the powder house at the ABC Mine during a severe thunderstorm. Fortunately, only one can of explosive  , containing about 2.5 kg of powder, exploded. Some employees boldly entered the building and tossed out the fuse.

  • May 9, 1908

    While a thunderstorm passed over Edmonton, a lightning bolt struck a young boy, leaving him unconscious and partially paralyzed. The charge damaged the kitchen of the house, ripping up the floor in five places. His father ran next door for assistance, but found a lone occupant lying unconscious on the dining room floor from the effects of the same lightning stroke. Both victims recovered from the shock.

  • June 16, 2007

    A lightning strike in Pigeon Lake ended in tragedy. A group of seven took refuge under some poplars, but a lightning bolt arced down and hit the trees, ripping bark off in long strips and causing smoke to rise from the branches, leaving six of them unconscious and one dead. Adding to the tragedy, the victim’s pregnant wife miscarried. This area is one of the most lightning prone in Canada.

  • June 28, 1898

    During a severe thunderstorm, lightning struck a house near the Hudson Bay Company store in Edmonton. Entering the chimney, it travelled down the stovepipe into the stove (shattering it), and across the floor to a wall, filling the house with smoke. It badly burnt a child’s foot, tore his shoe off, and knocked him senseless. Another child, a young man, and four women were also knocked down.

  • July 2, 1909

    Lightning struck within a metre of a man and a teenage boy near the exhibition grounds in Edmonton,  shattering a telegraph pole and striking both victims unconscious. The blast threw the man a few metres into the air. He was badly burned about the neck and chest and assumed dead when, 45 minutes later, came a faint flickering of the eyelids followed by groans of anguish.

  • July 19, 1927

    A violent thunderstorm, accompanied by heavy rain, struck Drumheller. In a freak incident, a bolt of lightning entered a residence by the window and split a pencil, after going through a layer of paper about 75 mm thick. The paper was set on fire but was soon extinguished with no further damage.

  • July 21, 1909

    A vicious storm with three hours of non-stop lightning struck Lloydminster. Wind twisted heavy wagons and farm machinery into interesting shapes, and carried one cultivator 200 m into a field. It also lifted pigs out of corrals, turned houses upside down, and caused a barn and house to collide in mid-air. A man who had just finished building a new house lost all trace of it after the storm.

  • July 24, 2006

    A record heat wave gripped Alberta. Increasing power demands for air conditioning and irrigation led to power-conserving 30-minute rotating outages, so when lightning struck a major transmission line, Calgary’s afternoon rush hour turned chaotic. Traffic signals were off, part of its light-rail transit system shut down, major roads became parking lots, and commuters were stuck downtown.

  • August 19, 1911

    Near Edmonton, lightning set ablaze a well-known cattleman’s stock barn, consuming it in less than one hour. His prize stock (four stallions, 10 brood mares, one Jersey bull, and one heifer) were put in the barn a mere half hour before the bolt struck. The stock was saved, but the stallions resisted being taken out of the burning building. Once out, they made every effort to return.

  • August 20, 2004

    A couple and their two boys were driving toward Edmonton on Highway 16 when a giant bolt of lightning struck the ground beside them. The charge bounced up and hit their minivan, deploying the airbags and cutting power to the vehicle. No one was hurt.

  • August 30, 1926

    A farmer from Mundare was leading his horse to pasture when a bolt of lightning struck and killed both him and his horse. In Edmonton, drenching rain accompanied thunder and lightning. For three and a half hours rain fell in torrents, sending water coursing down streets in streams. Lightning struck the city’s electric light system, blowing fuses, throwing switches, and burning transformers. 

  • September 4, 1926

    While two men drove between Entwistle and Evansburg, lightning struck their car, shattering the steering gear and turning the auto upside down. Both men escaped serious injury.

  • September 6, 1905

    Two ranchers from Clover Bar narrowly escaped death by lightning. Inside, there was a sudden flash and a fireball the size of a mug, followed by an explosion that filled the house with gas. The “ball lightning” came down the stove pipe and ripped open the stove door. It splintered the floor in five places, a metre from where one of the men sat. Both men recovered completely from the shock.

Saskatchewan

  • May 14, 1951

    Lightning struck the roof of an unoccupied farmhouse in the district of Dunleath. The bolt twisted the walls, reduced furniture to rubbish, and scorched every electrical wall switch. Every window was blown outwards, scattering glass 100 metres. A cabinet’s doors were broken into fine splinters and china and glassware dumped nearby; trinkets and photos sitting one metre away were untouched.

  • May 26, 2003

    Golf pros at a Regina course sounded the horn alerting golfers to the presence of severe thunderstorms, but not before lightning had struck three golfers. The most seriously injured victim was conscious, but disoriented. Those attending him initially worried about being struck again, but they thought it was unlikely, since lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. Not!

  • June 11, 1924

    A cyclone destroyed a house and several granaries near Lafleche. A farmer near Gravelbourg was killed instantly by lightning as he carried a pail of milk from the barn to his house. An area about 8 km wide and 35 km long was covered in 5 cm of hail. An unoccupied house became a heap of splintered wood after being lifted off its foundation, carried 15 m aloft, and dropped 400 m away.

  • June 11, 1931

    Before unhitching his horses, a farmer near Kipling was standing behind his binder. In the distance, his wife of two months stood watching him. Suddenly, she saw a bolt of lightning strike nearby. When the flash disappeared, she rushed over. The team of horses were still standing, but her husband was dead. Lightning had struck his head, and the current had grounded him through his spinal column.

  • June 17, 2005

    High winds, intense rains, lightning strikes, and tornadoes tore through southeastern Saskatchewan. At Stoughton, lightning struck an oil tank and blew it 60 m into the air. At Melville, 100 mm of rain fell in 40 minutes, flooding streets and basements. Tornadoes near Maple Creek destroyed homes and garages, damaged construction trailers and trucks, and toppled a 120-m-tall crane.

  • June 20, 1895

    A large hailstorm with copious amounts of rain struck Ellisboro. The hail spared crops but killed a yearling steer, broke the backs of a few pigs and smashed windows. The largest stone found was 25 cm around, as big as a baseball. One victim blamed the lightning for turning what was a full head of hair, bald.

  • June 25, 2005

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders’ regular-season opener at Taylor Field in Regina was delayed 30 minutes due to frequent lightning strikes that lit up the sky. The teams took to the turf amid rain and lightning for their pre-game warm-ups, but headed back to their respective locker rooms after the flashes became more common.

  • July 3, 1934

    Knocked unconscious when struck by lightning, a man in McLean recovered to find his wife lying a short distance away, killed by the same flash. The hoe she had been using had been splintered by the flash, the rims on her spectacles had melted, and her shoes had been ripped from her feet. The couple had been hoeing potatoes during a dry-lightning storm.

  • August 23, 1896

    A Lizard Lake farmer very narrowly escaped death. As he was cutting hay with his new steel mower, a thunderstorm suddenly arose and lightning struck the machine, momentarily stunning him. On coming to, he found the electrical charge had removed all the paint from the metal and coated it with a yellow sulphurous dust. The machine had no other damage and the horses were unhurt.

  • September 4, 1922

    A severe thunderstorm swept through Moose Jaw, killing one person and injuring five. Hail smashed windows and destroyed standing crop. A teenage boy was killed by lightning while stoking a field 20 minutes before the thunderstorm. The lightning also set fire to stokes on a neighbouring farm, but rain soon extinguished them. The storm also felled transmission poles over a stretch of 4 km.

  • September 5, 1922

    In Semans, lightning killed two Westboro, ON, brothers who were working as harvesters. They had crawled under a wheat stock when the electrical storm broke. Their companion was stunned by the bolt; when he regained consciousness, he found them dead, locked in each other’s arms. The first telegram sent to their parents in Ontario said that lightning had struck them in bed.

Manitoba

  • April 22 1932

    During an electrical storm, 52 wild geese were struck by lightning as they flew over Elgin. The jolt killed the birds, sending them crashing to the ground. Those collected were distributed to townspeople for goose dinners. Severe thunderstorms during the day dropped up to 35 mm of rain.

  • May 7, 2006

    Seconds after being struck by a lightning bolt, a Manitoba Youth Centre counsellor ushered six female inmates to safety. There was no warning flash before he heard a big thunder boom and saw a bolt shooting to the surface. The ground shook and the girls screamed. He came to, five metres away and composed himself, and then guided the girls into the cafeteria before collapsing.

  • June 17, 1953

    A fast-moving storm, accompanied at times by rain, hail, and cyclonic winds, tore across the Prairies. Near Glenlochar, winds ripped farm buildings off foundations and damaged tractors, while lightning electrocuted several farm animals. At Yorkton, lightning struck a farmer as he drove his tractor across his field on his way home.

  • July 1, 1881

    At least one home was destroyed when a tornado moved through a Mennonite settlement near Niverville, scooping up everything in its path. The tornado unroofed a house and its outbuildings and lifted a reaper from the field, destroying its gearings. Eyewitnesses saw the tornado lift a boy into the air where he was hit by lightning while aloft. He died several days later.

  • July 2, 1904

    A disastrous storm broke loose across southern Manitoba. It featured winds up to 90 km/h, fearful crashes of thunder, vivid forked and sheet lightning, and an apparently perfect tornado. Lightning struck a train station, a drill hall, several houses, and a disabled streetcar. Electric charges also fused telegraph wires.

  • July 27, 1953

    A lightning bolt blasted the Winnipeg Electric Company substation in Transcona, melting the coils and pipes after creating a huge arc between building and transformer. The flash lit up the sky for miles.The sub-station lay in shambles of blackened, high-voltage electrical equipment; accompanying rains turned nearby market gardens into a morass.

  • July 29, 1951

    After being struck by lightning, the United Church near Basswood, burned to the ground, but its contents were saved thanks to heavy rain.

  • August 3, 1909

    Southern Manitoba had brilliant lightning, heavy rain, and large hail. At Dauphin, lightning struck a home’s roof but those inside did not know it until a neighbour checked to see if anyone was hurt. Nearby, lightning killed a $3,000 horse. 

  • August 17, 1935

    In Victoria Beach, lightning struck an elderly woman, burning her 5 cm above the heart. The bolt hit a large birch tree, jumped to a metal clothesline connected to the house, and darted along the eaves trough into the building. It then travelled through the couch on which the woman lay, burning holes in the mattress and welding the sofa’s metal springs.

  • August 27, 1938

    Lightning played freakish tricks on two government employees engaged in survey work on the shore of Lake Wallace. Both men were struck by a bolt of lightning while in a tent, and rendered unconscious. Lightning hit the roots of a tree just outside the tent. All their chest hairs were burned. Images of root branches were etched on one man’s body.

  • September 5, 2005

    Many Manitobans spent a good part of their Labour Day holiday cleaning up from a vicious storm that toppled sheds, uprooted trees, and cut electricity for hours. The Selkirk area was hardest hit, with intense lightning, hail up to 3 cm in diameter, and winds gusting to 113 km/h. Just north of Selkirk, the wind flipped over five planes, including one tied down to a 3/4-tonne concrete block.

  • September 12, 1952

    Wind, rain, and hail combined to wreak havoc on crops in the Oak Lake area. The storm shattered windows, ripped a metal garage from its foundation, and cut hydro-electric services. In some places, hail lay 8 cm deep. At Fork River, MB, lightning severely damaged a Federal Grain company building. A volunteer bucket brigade saved a grain elevator from catching fire.

Ontario

  • January 20, 1951

    A rare winter thunderstorm disrupted 500 young mental patients at the Ontario Hospital in Orillia, when lightning struck and set on fire the roof of an adjoining building. After calling the fire brigade, staff roused the children and, after explaining the sudden fire drill, used flashlights to guide them through the darkness in pairs, without panic. The fire took two hours to put out.

  • March 22, 2007

    An early spring thunderstorm struck parts of central Ontario. Environment Canada had issued a rainfall warning and a caution about isolated thunderstorms for Parry Sound and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, two workers repairing the roof of a Parry Sound high school were struck by lightning and one died. A lightning death so early in the season is unusual.

  • March 25, 1910

    During a thunderstorm in Rideau Ferry, lightning struck a woodshed and ran along a passageway between two large woodpiles, ripping two boards off the floor and standing them on end. The lightning then entered a house, blowing out every window with the exception of one in the bedroom where a woman lay seriously ill. To keep the rain out, blankets were hung at every casement.

  • April 11, 1941

    Three years earlier in 1938, lightning struck a barn in West Montrose. Two years later, it was rebuilt. Then, on Good Friday, lightning struck and burned it again. A farmer purchased the remains and moved them to his farm, where 200 men helped him raise the frame. Thirty women prepared food to feed the gang of men in an old fashioned barn raising.

  • April 23, 1909

    Lightning struck telephone wires near the Ontario Powder Company’s office in Tweed. The electrical charge ran into the building’s engine room, knocking a big hole in the wall and shaking up workmen. A few metres away stood a carload of dynamite, but fortunately it was untouched. Lightning also damaged the town’s electric plant, telephone office, and outside telegraph communications.

  • April 26, 1854

    During a thunderstorm, lightning struck the chimney of the Catholic church in Newmarket, scattering brick and mortar in every direction. Nearby, another lightning bolt hit a highly respected, elderly farmer as he walked from house to barn. In the newspaper it said: “When found he was quite dead. His hair was all burned off his head, and his cap was still on fire.”

  • April 26, 1939

    An unusually early thunderstorm struck near Cochrane in northern Ontario. One lightning charge hit a man on the back of the head and shattered both eardrums, deafening him permanently. He also suffered severe burns and shock. Despite the injuries he managed to drive his team of horses to a nearby farm for help.

  • April 29, 1909

    A late-winter “thunder snow storm” surprised western and central Ontario. London got 30.5 cm of snow; Toronto 8.6 cm. In Petrol, lightning damaged the town hall and stopped the tower clock. Lightning-triggered fires were numerous. At Chatham, the local collegiate institute was struck and burned. Railway and streetcar services were also seriously affected.

  • April 30, 1942

    A severe electrical storm damaged buildings and homes in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario. In Thornbury, lightning struck and levelled an apple storage plant, crushing machinery and 12,000 cases of canned apple juice. In Clarksburg, a man, his wife, and three children barely escaped when lightning gutted their home. A heavy downpour kept the fire from spreading to nearby homes and a school.

  • May 2, 1933

    Lightning struck three children walking home from school near Peterborough, killing two of them. The sole survivor, a little boy named Elmer, was lying in the ditch when he came to; his sister and a friend were lying dead on the road. The girl’s hair was burned and her stockings torn, there was no other visible sign of injury. Her companion’s skin was discoloured.

  • May 8, 1878

    A severe thunderstorm passed over Kingston. Rain poured in torrents and lightning flashed long and often. One bolt of lightning entered the office in the Dominion Telegraph Office and set fire to the switchboard, completely severing the connecting wires. A passing cabman gave the alarm. His promptness restricted the damage to less than $50, without interruption of service.

  • May 10, 1936

    A severe electrical storm passed over Hopetown. Lightning struck a home, demolishing its chimney before travelling through stovepipes and along the floor, ripping up floorboards and baseboards. Two boys were standing at a window watching the storm. Lightning tore off their boots and pants and severely burned their feet and legs.

  • May 10, 2004

    For drivers in Amherstburg, it was a scene right out of a horror movie. About 20 dead and 12 injured seagulls littered the ground near River Canard. Amherstburg police figured the birds died during an overnight storm, possibly as the result of a lightning strike. One motorist said when she saw the birds it was a frightful and horrible scene.

  • May 15, 2007

    In Ontario, wind and rain assailed the Waterloo region, damaging homes, blocking roads, and causing car crashes and power outages. Lightning struck a communications tower, leaving emergency crews without radio contact. In Toronto, when winds caused a 140-kg marble slab to plunge 60 floors off First Canadian Place onto a 3rd-floor mezzanine above a food court, the street below was closed.

  • May 23, 1912

    A severe thunderstorm swept across Manitoulin Island. A tugboat captain was struck by lightning as he stood in the wheelhouse but he lived. In Burpee, lightning ignited a Union Jack flying over a town office. 

  • May 23, 1960

    Lightning set off a fire that gutted a home in Brighton. It fused a bolt in the home’s cold water pipe, leaving the water in the pipe boiling. The family returned to find their bedroom furniture smoldering in the driveway. One resident was briefly blinded and thrown to the floor. Another saw a bright glow behind his television and then a fireball shooting across the room into the kitchen.

  • May 24, 2006

    Lightning penetrated three points of the metal roof of a provincial government building in Red Lake, which housed forest-fire officials. It ignited the wooden rafters before engulfing the entire roof. No one was harmed.

  • May 30, 2007

    Around 6:00 p.m., lightning struck a soccer field in Fort Francis, killing a teenage boy. Other children were treated for minor injuries in hospital. A  game had been cancelled much earlier than 6:00, due to the youth soccer league’s strict policy of halting games due to lightning.

  • June 1, 1925

    An intense lightning storm in central Ontario was at its worst along the Spanish River. While driving their animals to shelter, two men from Sudbury were struck by a bolt of lightning. It killed one man instantly. The other was blinded and doctors doubted he would recover his sight. Close by, another man escaped uninjured but the single bolt killed four horses and several cattle.

  • June 2, 1920

    During a thunderstorm, a woman in Maberly went to close the kitchen door when a flash of lightning struck a nearby milk-can cover, burning the solder and giving her a severe shock. The charge of electricity paralyzed her left arm and side.

  • June 2, 1920

    A terrific storm broke over Ottawa, interrupting telephone and electric services, smashing windows with hail, and blowing down awnings and trees. In the twenty minute rage, a record 35 mm of rain fell. Lightning burned down a large barn containing hay worth $1000 and also levelled a warehouse filled with farm implements, fodder, and garden supplies.

  • June 10, 1880

    Near Brantford, lightning killed four cows lying under a tree. Strangely, only a limb of the tree showed the ill effect of the lightning. At Goderich, the storm struck a lighthouse, burning the storehouse to the ground including its contents, and breaking 20 panes of glass.

  • June 15, 1906

    In Ontario, several people died during a storm near Springfield and Inwood. They were killed either by lightning or by wind-whipped debris. An 87-year-old woman near Chatham died from heart failure caused by the excitement. Just outside Brantford, winds lifted a windmill 15 m and blew it over a 7-m-high shed, where it landed upright and undamaged.

  • June 23, 1913

    At noon, 13 settlers gathered at the Crown Lands Office in Hearst to beat the next day’s rush filing claims for farms. They burned smudge fires to ward off mosquitoes. At about 10 p.m., one of the most severe thunderstorms ever in the north struck. Lightning lit up the bush for miles, and thunder shook buildings. The small crowd huddled under tarpaulins and blankets; not one left the line.

  • June 23, 1944

    Eastern Ontario received between 20 to 50 mm of rain. In Ottawa, cellars flooded and lightning cut power, leaving the police radio off air for 20 minutes, and hit a streetcar, searing the driver’s neck and right arm. In Morrisburg, a bolt struck a metal weather vane atop St. Paul’s Lutheran Church belfry, ripped a hole in the roof, and then went to ground through the knave’s metal-lined walls. 

  • June 23, 1950

    Days of high winds wrecked boathouses near Sioux Narrows, and carried away docks on Lake of the Woods. Lightning ripped a path akin to spring plowing and damaged a cottage, heaving up a floor, badly splintering it and an adjoining wall. The storm peaked with 30 minutes of torrential rain. Well-soaked fields and gardens delayed already late fieldwork. 

  • June 24, 2002

    A stormy day in eastern Ontario triggered a series of mishaps. Lightning either struck a 62-year old motorcyclist or he fell off his bike when a nearby tree was struck in Stittsville. One of five parachutists caught in the storm soared upwards instead of down and landed in Orleans. A rain-fed wall of water slammed over a 10-m-high cliff near Calabogie, killing a mother and her son.

  • June 29, 1856

    Lightning struck the open door of a home in West Woolwich, near Kitchener, injuring two occupants and knocking eight others to the floor, leaving them stunned. One man’s pantaloons were burnt and torn off, and the lower portion of his body was literally crisped and denuded of skin. One toe was split as with a knife. His elderly father burned both arms, his skin hung in shreds.

  • July 1, 1956

    The summer’s fiercest storm cut a swath of death and damage across Ontario, whipping up lakes crowded with holidayers, toppling trees, and disrupting power and phone services. At least 13 people died including seven picnickers who were crushed to death when lightning and wind toppled a giant elm on their car near Keswick. On Lake Simcoe, wind-waves tossed boats up on the shore.

  • July 3, 1883

    In Stayner, lightning hit the chimney on a photograph gallery, demolishing it and scattering bricks everywhere. Three men standing in its doorway were dazed and somewhat scorched, though not severely. An umbrella held by one of them broke into pieces.

  • July 6, 1955

    When the rain stopped, a farm wife from Dundalk opened the front door. Her husband and baby were close behind. Lightning struck a large tree and travelled along a clothesline to the house. The bolt hurled the three into the yard. The husband woke up in the mud, partly paralyzed. The baby sat up crying. And the wife/mother lay unconscious face down in the mud. The electrical charge changed the colour of the wash line from silver to copper.

  • July 8, 2008

    During a severe thunderstorm, lightning struck and killed a man in a Toronto park. He had taken shelter under a huge maple tree at Christie Pitts ballpark. The deadly bolt also shook nearby homes. The storm drenched the city with some 52 mm of rain within an hour. During the same period, Environment Canada detected 430 lightning strikes.

  • July 9, 1926

    Lightning struck the chimney of the Orange Hall in Rednersville, instantly killing a father and son and injuring 30 others. The son had just been initiated into the Orange Lodge when a terrific bolt of lightning hit. Remarkably, the father and son were sitting on opposite sides of the room, 10 m apart, when they were struck simultaneously. Not a mark of any kind was found on them.

  • July 10, 1883

    During a colossal rainstorm, lightning struck and set the Imperial Oil Company paraffin works in London on fire. Strong wind gusts scattered the fire, igniting small treating houses and tanks used to produce waxes and machine oils. The brilliant flames, blinding lightning flashes and rattling thunder put on a spectacular “sound and light” show for thousands of drenched spectators.

  • July 12, 2007

    Lightning injured seven people in Ottawa and Gatineau, including five teenagers on a putting green who took shelter under a nearby tree. A bolt struck the tree and fanned out through its roots, inflicting minor injuries on four of the teens and knocking the fifth unconscious. He spent the night in hospital on a heart machine, tired and concerned by the faint spiderweb marks on his hips.

  • July 14, 1885

    St. Thomas experienced one of its most fierce electric storms in history. One lightning flash entered a local newspaper office, knocking the telephone out of order and stunning a reporter. Another flash came into a house and ran into the cellar where only two out of 40 pots of preserves were left whole.

  • July 15, 1961

    A boy in Ontario survived when lightning killed his Labrador dog. The teenager was in a deckchair when a lightning bolt struck a nearby tree and travelled along a chain to the dog’s collar. The dog died instantly. The boy, who was stroking the dog’s head, went rigid and passed out. Revived in about two minutes, he recalled hearing a loud bang, described by his father as the sound of cannon.

  • July 23, 1920

    An intense summer rainstorm hit St. Catharines, cutting telegraph and telephone service for 24 hours, and flooding homes and businesses. The storm killed three men in freak accidents and damaged a 90-year-old giant tree that had been brought as a sapling from Napoleon’s grave. Lightning shocked two telephone operators in Thorold while they were trying to restore service.

  • July 27, 2006

    A downpour sent three golfers in Emeryville dashing for cover. As one loaded his clubs into a van, lightning struck him and threw him into the vehicle. Never losing consciousness, when put in an ambulance he was amazed to see the image of his best friend’s father, who died three weeks before. The golfer had severe burns and nerve damage to his feet, one foot turning purple almost instantly.

  • July 29, 1898

    Lightning killed a young farmhand near Almonte. He was walking to afternoon tea when a single bolt of lightning hit him. The odd thing was that his straw hat was literally torn to pieces, but the marks on the right side of his head were scarcely discernible. The current passed through his body, melted some of the silver in his watch, and passed through his foot, cutting his boot to pieces.

  • July 29, 1941

    In Waterloo, lightning struck the home of a family grieving their young daughter, who had died two days earlier. The bolt struck as their son turned off the cellar lights. The shock held his hand to the switch and his arm went stiff. All of the cellar’s light bulbs exploded, the switch box and meter blew from the wall, two windows broke, and a chunk was dug out of the concrete wall.

  • August 2, 2005

    Air France Flight 350 landed in a driving rainstorm at Lester Pearson International Airport in Toronto. The jet overran the runway, slammed into a ditch, and burst into flames, but, miraculously, the more than 300 people aboard survived. Shifting, shearing winds with strong gusts, a downpour that reduced visibility, and frequent lightning flashes may have contributed to the accident.

  • August 3, 1931

    Lightning struck a house near Timmins twice in minutes. The first strike hit the kitchen tearing a gaping hole in the roof and slashing the linoleum. When a mother and son ran to the kitchen to see the commotion, a second bolt struck the front of the house. Although erratic with multiple hits, lightning failed to do any material damage to the furniture.

  • August 4, 2003

    A brief but violent thunderstorm swept through London. Lightning sounded like a gunshot, causing many residents to duck for cover, and made roofs shake. A bolt set one house ablaze; inside, firefighters found the family cat. After being told by neighbourhood children that hamsters lived there too, the fire crew emerged from the burning house with a hamster cage.

  • August 9, 2005

    A Concordia University professor hiking in a remote area of Killarney Provincial Park near Sudbury, was killed when lightning hit the ground near his tent during a violent thunderstorm. Paramedics and police rushed to the area, but then had to hike about 600 m through dense bush and up craggy slopes to reach his campsite. The victim was found lying on the floor of the tent.

  • August 13, 1956

    On a cottage at Chandos Lake, near Peterborough, lightning struck a Florida tourist. She was washing dishes while her husband and son were on the veranda. A bolt of lightning tore into the side of the frame cottage after hitting a pine tree and splitting a rock. When the man and boy rushed to the kitchen, the woman fell dead at their feet.

  • August 19, 1898

    Lightning set fire to the largest lighthouse on the east pier in Port Dalhousie. It also struck and burned down many barns, and all of the season’s crops. Further, winds knocked down several derricks and shade trees. Farther south in Petrolia, the storm blew down a circus tent and upset several animal cages. Management quickly recovered the freed animals.

  • August 25, 1951

    In Tory Hill, lightning hit the chimney of a farmhouse. It tore through a living-room outlet into a bedroom, passing under a child’s cot and through a wall above the sleeping parents. The charge tore the bobby pins from the hair of the mother, who felt aflame. Ceilings cracked, windows broke, and bricks were strewn about. Light bulbs shattered and plugs and outlets were bent.

  • August 31, 1881

    An area from Ingersoll to London to Lobo was victim to an unusually deadly, wicked, and greenish-coloured lightning. Barns and silos recently filled with crops were highly combustible and few could be saved when struck; many animals also died. At one farm, lighting hit the lock of a rifle behind a door, shattering its stock into matchsticks and propelling the barrel into the ceiling.

  • September 1, 1951

    Flashes of lightning in Windsor sent a frightened girl to her parent’s bedroom. One spectacular charge tossed her into the air and a streak of flames shot from her hair, rendering her semi-conscious. The odour of burned hair remained strong after 16 hours. The girl’s only injuries, miraculously, were entry burns on top of her head and where the charge exited.

  • September 2, 1970

    Near Portland, in eastern Ontario, a bolt of lightning struck and instantly killed two hunting dogs. It also set a barn on fire, burning several farm animals alive. In Harlem, lightning started a fire, completely destroying a barn with ducks, rabbits and 600 bales of hay.

  • September 4, 1882

    At about 3:00 p.m. in Ottawa, a thunderbolt set Central School’s cupola on fire and 400 panicky pupils ran outside. A bolt also broke the fourth class’s window and grazed the teacher’s neck, severely burning her to her heels before knocking her “senseless.” The “electric fluid” (the name for lightning then) resembled a large fireball. A school inspector who was also hit did not recover quickly.

  • September 8, 1940

    Two lightning bolts struck a Toronto church within a minute, destroying the organ control box and ripping shingles from the steeple. Another put out traffic lights and disabled at least 15 streetcars for 10 minutes. In Erindale, lightning struck a tree and set fire to hay intended for an elephant kept in a farm’s private zoo.

  • September 10, 2003

    The bow plate of a boat plying in Lake of the Woods was hit by lightning, which burned a huge hole in the metal. Unbelievably, none of the four fisherman aboard was seriously hurt. One of them managed to paddle the boat to an island where there was a cabin. Luckily, the cabin owner was at home. He gave them pyjamas and found a fuse for their motor.

  • September 13, 1962

    A vicious electrical storm, packing 120 km/h winds, lightning, and 25 mm of rain in 20 minutes, flooded parts of Toronto causing widespread damage. Rising waters trapped motorists stalled in submerged underpasses. The storm left large sections of the city without hydro when lightning struck transformers and winds blew trees across power lines.

  • September 15, 2002

    In Komoka, lightning shook an entire house. Battery-operated toys started up on their own; the lightning charred and melted some toys and a stroller. A neighbour and the mother used any liquids they could find, including milk and juice, to douse the flames. The electrical energy from the lightning strike likely charged the air and the house contents with static electricity. 

  • September 22, 2005

    A spectacular thunderstorm raged over the Windsor, knocking down trees, flooding yards and roads, and sparking widespread power outages. The wind picked up a tall, 115-kg man and hurled him more than 2 metres. Lightning split a 30-m century elm down the middle, toppling a lamp standard and power lines that crushed three vehicles. Cars had to be towed out of flooded viaducts.

  • October 2, 1956

    In Gananoque, lightning struck and paralyzed a veterinarian from the waist down when the charge hit the barn where he was attending a cow. The bolt killed the cow and then knocked down, but did not injure two other persons. An eyewitness dragged the doctor to safety before the barn burned to the ground.

  • October 8, 1939

    Intense lightning, unusual for this time of year in northern Ontario, struck a Haileybury sub-station, causing a small fire. Lightning also hit several farm buildings, reducing them and the year’s crops to ashes. At another farm, a strike instantly killed a Holstein bull in its stall. The charge hit the bull on the head but singed the entire length of its body. Nothing else in the stable was touched.

Quebec

  • March 26 1907

    An early and remarkably severe thunderstorm tracked across Québec’s Eastern Townships. Lightning struck a barn at Thetford and everything in it burned, including nine head of cattle, a prized two-year-old colt, and six sheep. It was quite a loss to the owner as there was no insurance.

  • April 22, 1902

    Lightning struck a building in Hull, during a morning electrical storm. The ensuing fire destroyed a business block and livery stable. The fire cremated all six members of one family. In the livery stable, under the blackened carcass of a horse, officials uncovered the body of the hired man.

  • April 30, 1910

    Repeated lightning struck Echo Vale in the Lac Megantic district of Quebec, shattering thousands of trees and scattering wood fragments. The fragments ranged from the size of a toothpick to over 0.5 m long. Lightning also entered the ground, tearing up both soil and tree roots. In at least one incident, lightning peeled bark from a tree in a spiral form, curling off 10 m of bark.

  • May 8, 1901

    At noon, lightning struck the Bullock School, about 8 km from Beebe-Plain. The teacher was at dinner and escaped. About a dozen people in the building were all injured. Two girls who were sitting together had their hair burned and their shoes torn from their feet, they remained unconscious and paralyzed in their lower limbs for some time.

  • June 6, 1925

    Lightning struck a home near Racine. The bolt killed one girl and injured her sister so badly that the storm left her “a life of despair,” as described by her family. Another sister miraculously escaped injury. The injured girl was to have been married the next day.

  • June 15, 1897

    Lightning struck a fruit store in Georgeville, entering the building through an attic window and travelling down the wall, peeling off plaster. It shot across to the nearest electric light wire and burned out a switch. The blast stunned some occupants, but they recovered and ran out of the smoke-filled building. Hail in places was over 30 cm deep.

  • June 18, 1907

    During a thunderstorm in Sutton, lightning struck and killed a valuable mare and a fine colt. The owner had two mares, each with a colt, in his pasture, but the colt that was killed belonged to the uninjured mare. Lightning also struck and completely demolished an old cheese factory. A passerby received quite a nasty shock.

  • June 26, 1952

    A fisherman near Cowansville died when a thunderstorm swept southern Quebec. In Montreal, a quick-thinking conductor kept passengers from panicking as he rolled his smoke-filled streetcar to a stop after lightning hit its pole and blew the switch box. Lightning also killed a man watching the storm on his veranda. Before the storm, Montreal Harbour river traffic was stalled by thick fog.

  • June 27, 1911

    In Montreal, lightning struck the Church of L’Enfant Jesus. It also struck and set fire to the lovely church of St. Jean Baptist, its great dome collapsing two hours later. The flames coloured its towers and crosses burnished gold, but left only blackened walls and marble pillars.

  • July 23, 1956

    The Montreal Star reported: “Mayor Jean Drapeau, whose election 21 months previous hit his opponents like a thunderbolt, was himself on the receiving end of a lightning strike…Lightning hit his home’s chimney. The mayor said, ’There was a terrific crash and the lights went out.’ The wiring in the house was damaged, as were his television set and the controls for the garage doors.”

  • August 1, 2006

    Lightning struck a seniors’ residence in Gatineau, and 80 tenants scurried to safety. At about 3:00 a.m., a loud bang and acrid smoke woke a resident, who shouted and pounded on doors until his knuckles were sore, to wake everyone up. Firefighters broke down the doors of those who were hard of hearing. Despite the smoke, everything went smoothly as the residence has regular fire drills.

  • August 3, 1938

    Following a scorching day in eastern Quebec, a violent storm broke. One of the worst storms the province had ever seen, it caused three deaths and extensive property damage. Lightning killed one man when it struck the carriage in which he and his niece were driving. In St. Thecle, winds blew down the twin spires of the Roman Catholic Church and unroofed more than 45 buildings.

  • August 4, 1845

    A storm described as a hurricane passed over a house in Ste-Genèvieve, where five young men were staying. Two occupants ran to the garret to shut the window when they were struck dead by lightning. A second lightning charge passed downstairs, killing another man and severely injuring the remaining two; one succumbed later.  

  • August 6, 2007

    In Montreal, thousands of Scouts at an international jamboree kept to their tents as 44 mm of rain fell. On the Island of Montreal, about 1,300 homes lost power when lightning took out transformers and falling branches brought down power lines. Some drivers abandoned their cars when water rose above the wheels. Heavy rains also stranded commuters, and air and rail travellers.

  • August 22, 1916

    Dynamite stored in a shack in Montreal blew to smithereens after lightning hit the shack. The ground shook violently, shattering windows and ripping roofs from houses. The district was in an uproar, men’s shouts mingling with the screams of terrified women and children. A German invasion was feared, but police rushed to reassure the frightened citizenry that it had been lightning. 

  • September 24, 1907

    During a thunderstorm, lightning struck a small barn used as a sheep shed near Massawippi. Forty tonnes of hay went up in flames, as did a mowing machine, horse-rakes, a buggy, and two sleighs. In Compton, lightning travelled along telegraph wires, causing two fires. Had the station agent been at his telegraph key he surely would have been electrocuted.

  • October 17, 1914

    A widow claimed $2,025 in damages under the Workmen’s Compensation Act when her husband was struck by lighting and killed while working for the CPR near Drummondville. Permission to sue Workmen’s Compensation was granted by a Quebec judge. It was the first case in which lightning had been involved and the hearing attracted much interest among lawyers and justices.

  • November 17, 1819

    Around noon in Montreal, the sky turned inky black, a sooty rain fell, and later, a tremor shook the city. Frightened citizens went to church. Suddenly, a lightning bolt struck Notre Dame and hundreds tried to save the spire which began to smoke and burn. Volunteer fire-fighters and others operated a bucket brigade to battle the flames. Around 8 p.m. the iron cross fell to the ground with a crash.

  • December 14, 2006

    Christmas shoppers in Montreal experienced an unusual but not rare thunder and lightning storm.

New Brunswick

  • March 24, 1858

    Lightning tore a 61 m gap in the Reversing Falls Bridge in Saint John, but did not set it on fire. Shortly after, a stagecoach from Fredericton filled with passengers started across it. Miraculously, the horses stopped part way and a lightning flash allowed the driver and passengers to see the huge gap, down 21 m into the falls.

  • April 15, 1834

    According to the Gleaner newspaper, the Isabella was struck by lightning while at berth in the Saint John harbour. The bolt carried away the fore and main topmast and shattered the starboard side of the deck, before exiting under the fore chains. Lightning bolts struck twice, the first time making a sailor insensible.

  • May 21, 1921

    Lightning struck a farmhouse near Tracy, killing a farmer, paralyzing his wife, and stunning their little girl. It also set fire to the house which, in the high wind, burned so quickly that the farmer’s body was consumed before it could be removed. The child recovered consciousness in time to drag her mother to safety.

  • May 29, 1835

    Terrific winds lifted the roof off a Bathurst farmhouse and blew the barn into an adjoining lot. One of the farmer’s children took shelter under a tree. His mother called him to leave the spot, which he had scarcely done when winds felled the tree. In another incident, the Bathurst Courier reported a tree struck by lightning was “shivered to atoms.”

  • May 30, 1831

    Lightning struck the chimney of Henry Lord’s house in Saint John splitting it from top to bottom. It tore off the mantle piece, and completely melted the brass shovel and tongs that stood near the fireplace. A man in an adjoining room was temporarily deprived of speech, but he soon recovered. Out in the barn, the cow Mrs. Lord was milking was knocked down by lightning, but was not injured.

  • June 2 1845

    A couple from Miramichi awoke when rain began dropping through the roof onto their bed. As they moved their bed alongside a stove, lightning struck the stove, shattering it to pieces and killing the woman on the spot.

  • June 18, 1890

    A married couple from Moncton died when lightning ignited their home. The rapid progress of the fire prevented others from helping. Their neighbors were horrified by what they saw through the window. The woman who was in shock, lay down by her burning husband who was sick in bed. The charred remains of the husband and wife were found in the ruins.

  • June 29, 2005

    Tourists often visited the spectacular Ste-Anne Roman Catholic Church, the heart and soul of the 300-strong Acadian community of Ste-Anne-de-Kent. Sadly, the blessed church now lays in ruins after a fire triggered by a lightning strike. Residents formed a human chain to pull religious artifacts from the burning church, but flames devoured more than 60 frescoes and a rare chandelier.

  • July 3, 2003

    The day was hot and humid across New Brunswick. Late in the afternoon, a thunderstorm brought funnel clouds and hail. Lightning struck a transmission line just south of Newcastle, knocking out electricity to 100,000 customers. Environment Canada said it was a "micro burst.”

  • July 9, 1831

    Lightning descended a house chimney in Cumberland Arms, and then exited, cleanly separating window glass from its sashes. The explosion shattered dishes and broke a decanter containing spirits. The editor of the Miramichi Gleaner wrote: “The circumstance of the lightning having smashed the rum bottle, without damaging any thing else in the room, was an argument in favor of Temperance Societies.”

  • July 12, 1864

    Lightning struck a house near Fredericton and destroyed an occupied cradle. The baby wasn’t injured, nor was anyone in the house, but a fine horse died. Lightning also struck a schoolhouse, descending among the children and knocking one of them from a seat. The lightning was so vivid and the flashes so incessant, the heavens appeared to be on fire.

  • July 18, 1856

    Lightning struck a house in Chatham, killing two young girls. The father of one of the girls threw a barrel of flour on the fire from an upstairs window. He then took his injured wife outside, where she told him that both girls were dead. He went back in and saw them standing at a table, holding dishes. As soon as he touched them, they both fell dead.

  • July 20, 2003

    During a soccer tournament in Fredericton, lightning struck and instantly killed a 14-year-old female player from Maine, USA. The blast threw the teenager more than a metre into the air; she came down in a rumple. More than 20 others were injured or dazed and taken to hospital. Eyewitnesses said the thunder and lightning occurred at the same time.

  • August 29, 1854

    A thunderstorm accompanied by spectacular lightning and heavy rain struck Saint John and its neighbourhood. Lightning destroyed several buildings. It shattered the tower of the Valley Church in Portland, removing the bell but not breaking it. It also struck the masts of two ships in the harbour, breaking the iron bands.

  • September 2, 1866

    Lightning struck the old Bixby house in Saint John. It shattered a chimney, tore off shingles, and reduced rafters to splinters. Burning chimneys and ceilings filled bedrooms with smoke and debris. Sealed fireplaces burst open, throwing bricks about the apartments. Of the five families living there, no one was killed or even hurt, which was “nothing else than a Providential escape.”

  • September 26, 2003

    A hot-air balloon adventurer, David Hempleman-Adams, took off from Sussex and landed in Blackpool, England, three days later. He became the first person to ever cross the Atlantic in an old-style, wicker-basket balloon. Shortly after takeoff, he encountered lightning, snow, and bone-chilling temperatures. In the final hours of the flight, he endured hail, snow and thick clouds.

  • November 5, 1862

    Across the New Brunswick border in Maine, a “smart” thunderstorm occurred unusually late in the season. A sheriff’s officer was struck and “rendered insensible from one of the heavy slashes of lightning.” When he came to, his horse was turned in the opposite direction. He took several hours to recover at a nearby house. It seems the electric current had passed around a wagon’s wheels.

Prince Edward Island

  • June 15, 1863

    A lightning bolt entered through the window of a home in Morell, and kindled a fire in the roof. It graced the body of a young man sitting at the breakfast table and split his boots in several places, leaving him temporarily numb and paralyzed. Then passing up between the man and the table, it snatched his porridge spoon out of his hand, and drove it against the ceiling.

  • June 19, 2008

    Lightning killed five cows in South Melville. The electric current first hit nearby trees then jumped to the animals. The damage could have been worse with 20 or 30 cows commonly gathering together during foul weather. The farmer suffered an emotional as well as financial hit: he had milked some of the cows for more than 20 years.

  • July 4, 1898

    During a thunderstorm, lightning struck and shattered a house in Cavendish. Two visitors sitting on either side of the owner were killed instantly. Incredibly, the owner escaped injury, but his wife received a shock. Lightning also destroyed several barns and a lobster factory. 

  • July 4, 1840

    In Hillsborough, a severe thunderstorm drove a flock of 35 sheep to seek shelter among bushes and trees. By 7:00 p.m., shepherds found 14 of the sheep dead. The supposition that they had been struck by lightning was supported by the evidence nearby of shattered trees. However, where the animals were found trees did not appear to have been struck. 

  • August 11, 1843

    An inquest concluded that a woman from Cherry Valley, was struck dead on the spot by lightning. Lightning also damaged the house, shattering its rafters and floor beams immediately above and below the victim. The woman had been kneading dough in the kitchen, four children and a servant girl who were also in the house were fortunate enough to escape injury.

  • December 12, 1843

    During a rare winter thunderstorm, a farmer in Speke was struck by lightning. The “electric fluid” (older word for lightning) entered through a window. It knocked out several of his wife’s brother’s teeth as he lay sleeping. The charge perforated clothing as if riddled by a shot and shattered a chest of drawers. It also tore up the milk-house floor, smashed vessels filled with cream, but left shelves of crockery untouched.

Nova Scotia

  • January 25, 1924

    Although no serious damage occurred, the terrific storm that struck Stellarton knocked out telephones and main electrical lines, leaving the town in darkness. The roof of the locomotive house was blown off. The storm was accompanied by heavy snow, pelting rain and lightning. Walking was very dangerous and many people fell on the icy streets. 

  • April 1, 1968

    Lightning crashed into a home in Kentville, causing a tremor heard half a kilometre away. The flash struck near the television antenna, blew out a section of the roof, and started a fire that gutted the attic and rear roof.

  • June 15, 1892

    For half an hour, the sky over Amherst was illuminated with lightning. One bolt struck a roof and entered two attached houses. In one structure, the current passed along the wall, destroying pictures along its path. It was the second time this house had been struck. In Milford, lightning split nearly every telephone and telegraph post in the area.

  • June 22, 1923

    Lightning struck under a bed in Glace Bay, NS, setting the house on fire. The family barely escaped in time; the younger children were snatched from their beds as their rooms caught fire. Only a suitcase was saved. The fire had a 30-minute head start before someone sounded the alarm. As it happened, lightning had knocked out telephone service on that street and all callers got was “no answer.”

  • July 22, 1850

    Lightning entered the window of a telegraph operator’s room in Halifax. The charge struck the relay instrument, passed along the connecting wire, fused the coil, and melted the copper wires leading into the battery room. The shock was felt throughout the building, but fortunately the operator was not there at the time of connection. Lightning also damaged 15 poles, destroying two.

  • July 27, 1921

    A thunderstorm broke out across the Maritimes. The storm featured numerous flashes of vivid lightning accompanied by heavy peals of thunder and showers of rain. One bolt of lightning entered a house in Fergusons Cove, and carried away the slats of the owner’s bed. The occupant was left lying on the floor, uninjured but considerably shaken up.

  • August 5, 1846

    Near River John in Pictou, lightning entered a shoemaker’s shop by a stovepipe, shattering the stove. It tore up part of the floor, threw up ceiling boards, and blew out the windows without injuring anyone. The next day lightning in East River killed a man, a boy and a dog. It also struck a woman, rendering her insensible for a time.

  • August 10, 1863

    Intense rainfall drenched Yarmouth. At one house, lightning struck the family’s eldest daughter leaving her senseless on the floor. In Deerfield, lightning entered and damaged the First Baptist meeting house. Parishioners felt it lucky that it took place on Monday, instead of the previous day, when the house had been nearly filled.

  • August 11, 1923

    During a severe thunderstorm at Eastern Passage, lightning entered the chimney of a house and passed through every room. Glass and plaster flying in all directions alerted the startled family to the danger. Boards were ripped from the front of the kitchen sink and the sewing machine. Hinges were wrenched from the piano. The front door was blown into the yard, hinges and all. 

  • August 16, 1922

    The worst lightning in years passed over Yarmouth. At one home, it split a chimney, tore plaster from walls and burst windows. It damaged the outside of a local church before entering it. A barn was set on fire but rain kept it smouldering until morning, when it was put out. A wire fence was struck, shattering fence posts for 35 m, and the town’s telephone system was disabled. 

  • August 20, 1923

    During a fierce thunderstorm, lightning struck the flagpole on the tower of the School for the Deaf in Halifax. The bolt travelled down the flagpole, then entered the building and knocked plaster from the walls of a bedroom. Nails, splintered shingles, and bits of wood littered the roof. The pupils were on vacation, so passersby had to tell the occupants about the lightning strike.

  • August 23, 1839

    A thunderstorm struck Amherst during hay harvest. A boy on a cart was killed, as were the oxen pulling it. A second boy was stunned and stupefied, his hair singed and the skin from his face and body peeling off in narrow strips. His cotton jacket and under clothes were partly burned. Between his first and second toe on each foot, a slight break in the cuticle marked where the lightning charge exited.

  • September 13, 1920

    Over Digby, flares of lightning and cracks of thunder occurred uninterrupted for almost two hours. Constant drizzle was punctuated with occasional heavy downpours. St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, situated atop one of the highest hills, was struck three times and was left with holes in its roof, and damaged walls, windows and frames. Several homes were set on fire and destroyed. 

  • September 18, 1930

    At the height of a squall off Cape Breton Island, lightning split apart a schooner, drowning 10 men. Waves washed the ship from stem to stern as the frantic helmsman tried to bring the vessel into the wind. Trapped below deck, the survivors struggled clear of the submerged cabin and tangled rigging, only to endure 70 hours of harsh wind and salt spray, without food or water.

  • October 24, 1846

    Lightning struck the Episcopal Church on Butler’s Hill in Yarmouth, setting the steeple on fire. At the same time, the lighthouse at the Cape was also struck but only slightly damaged. Prior to the lightning, a huge thick cloud had settled over the town. It was so dark that people used candles in offices and homes at noon.

Newfoundlandand Labrador

  • March 23, 1907

    A rare spring thunder and lightning storm damaged some coastal communities in Newfoundland. In Harbour Grace, lightning destroyed an unoccupied house. Around Placentia, telegraph poles either split or broke in two. Lightning burst through the windows of one home and ignited curtains and some papers that were lying on a table. It also burned a wall switch and wallpaper, and sounded like a cannon.

  • June 26, 1930

    A destructive hailstorm burst over Lumsden, NL, panicking the citizens of the tiny Trinity Bay fishing community. Three men drowned as their boat sank, battered by huge hailstones or by lightning. Thirty boats anchored in the harbour went down in the storm. Eyewitnesses pegged the weight of conglomerates of ice at 4 kg.

Yukon

  • August 14, 2004

    For most of the summer, Yukon experienced record warm, dry conditions. Lightning started wildfires almost every day in early summer which resulted in outdoor burning bans. Smoke from more than double the average number of fires prompted daytime headlight use and prevented pilots from landing in Dawson City. The total charred area was over 18,000 sq/km or three times the size of PEI.

  • August 14, 1902

    Tall story or truth? A horse with a Yukon mining exploration party drank from a copper-laced pool. After a sudden storm, all that was left where the horse once stood was a charred pile of cloth. One miner speculated that the horse was full of copper and that at the minute lightning struck, he walked near some copper. Lightning mistook him for a lightning rod and fried him.

Nunuvat

  • July 13, 2007

    Conservation officers suspected lightning had killed 13 caribou found dead outside of Arviat. They died within 50 metres of each other, about the time a series of rare lightning strikes hit the area. The hunter who found them thought someone had killed them and left the meat to go to waste, but they had no bullet wounds. Decomposition was too advanced to confirm death by lightning.

Northwest Territories

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