History InSite: 9-13 Oakdale Avenue, S1954.17.28.1

Trees limbs and leaf litter are down on the ground while two men standing centre of the image assess the damage. Houses are in the backgroun along with other undamaged trees. A truck at right is parked and the words on the door read Merritton Hydro Commission.
Residents and crew clean up after the storm. | STCM 1954.17.28.1

On October 15, 1954, the most famous hurricane in Canadian history hit Southern Ontario.  While hurricane Hazel had been expected to dissipate as it traveled north, a cold front over Ontario caused the hurricane to intensify and it struck the province with 110 km/hr winds and dropped an average of 235 mm of rain over a 48-hour period.  Eighty-one people were killed as a result of the storm and more than 4000 families were left homeless, mostly in the Toronto area.

St. Catharines did not experience the worst of the storm and came through with most damage consisting of downed trees and broken branches.  The Standard on the day after the storm noted: “… branches big and small littered roads and yards after gusts of 65 miles per hour (107 km/hr) swept across the peninsula at 11:00 p.m. … town workmen worked throughout the day and night and even the early hours of this morning to meet the demands of every citizen.”

The Big Storm

Coverage of the storm was in-depth which gives us a greater understanding of how local residents coped with the damage. Check out some of the newspaper coverage below:

Newspaper with text and photographs detailing the story of Hurricane Hazel.
Newspaper with text and photographs detailing the story of Hurricane Hazel.

There’s More to the Story

Check out the entire History InSite installation across Merritton, downtown St. Catharines and in Port Dalhousie.

About History InSite

A permanent, site specific installation, History InSite juxtaposes historical photographs with modern streetscapes by presenting the photo in, or close to, the place which it was taken.

St. Catharines has a rich photographic history and when compared to the changing streetscapes around the City, that history becomes much more meaningful, poignant, and relevant to our modern eyes.

The Downtown series was installed in July 2021. The Port Dalhousie series was installed in May 2022. The Merritton series was installed in May 2023.

History InSite is presented by the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre.

Graffiti Report

If you spot any graffiti on our purple History InSite signs, please send us a message a