Though the enormous storm that hit the GTA this past July may have dumped more rain on the city than the “storm of the century,” Hurricane Hazel made an indelible mark on Toronto. The storm officially hit the city at 11pm on October 15th, 1954, with winds that reached up 110 kilometres and 285 millimetres of rain that fell within 48 hours.

Once the storm was over, 81 people in Southern Ontario were killed (mostly in Toronto). Among the many scenes of destruction, the overflowing Humber River flooded Raymore Drive and swept away 14 homes. Across the region, 1,868 families were left homeless.

Afterward, the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority was founded to co-ordinate floodwater management. The city also took over a number of the floodplain areas and kept them as green spaces to help absorb future overflow.

To mark the 59th anniversary of the hurricane, we’ve put together some archival images of the famous storm:

Humber River House Hurricane Hazel

The Humber River, looking north from Islington Avenue, near the Woodbridge-Highway 7 bridge in Vaughan. A dam had been washed out.

hoggs hollow hurricane hazel

A collapsed bridge in the Don River, in Hog’s Hollow.

Humber River Hurricane Hazel

Uprooted trees and high water levels in the Humber River, as seen from the Bloor Street bridge.

old mill hurricane hazel

In the Kingsway neighbourhood, looking south on Humber Boulevard between Old Mill Road and Dundas Street West.

humber river highway

The Humber River, looking west to the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway (Highway 401) bridge. The bridge had just been built at a cost of $225,000 and had yet to be used. The larger replacement span cost $300,000.

humber river albion hurricane hazel

The flooded bridge over the Humber River, looking west across Old Albion Road.

All photos courtesy of the Toronto Public Library Digital Archive.

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