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Quebec shaken in 1988 earthquake

The Story


Late in the evening of Nov. 25, 1988, a major earthquake occurs near the Quebec cities of Chicoutimi and Jonquière, with aftershocks felt as far away as Toronto, Halifax and Boston. The 6.2 magnitude quake lasts for two minutes, catching thousands of people off guard and leaving buildings damaged and power out for hundreds of thousands of Quebecers. This CBC Television clip looks at the aftereffects of eastern North America's largest quake in 50 years. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Nov. 26, 1988
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Diana Bishop, Craig Thompson
Duration: 4:15

Did You know?


• This 1988 earthquake occurred in a remote area of the Saguenay region of Quebec, which is considered Canada's biggest quake centre outside British Columbia.

• Since the epicentre was about 35 kilometres south of Chicoutimi, the destruction that typically results from a quake of this size was greatly lessened.

• As it was, vibrations from the quake shook bricks from buildings, shifted soil from underneath railway overpasses and caused a toxic leak at an aluminum plant.

• A larger disaster at the Alcan Inc. plant in Jonquière, Que., was averted after workers sealed the leak. But as an Alcan employee says in this clip, they were just "lucky there was no wind."

• The quake shook loose light fixtures, scattered items from grocery store shelves and sparked panic. Dramatic surveillance camera footage in this clip catches a cashier and a male customer fleeing a convenience store.

• Rumblings from the quake were felt hundreds of kilometres away, as far west as Toronto and St. Catharines, Ont., as far east as Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley and as far south as Boston, Mass.

• As a seismologist in this clip explains, the aftershocks reverberated far and wide because they traveled along the Canadian Shield.

• In Montreal power was out for more than a day and bricks were shaken loose from several older buildings. A concert hall in Quebec City sustained significant damage and a chapel in La Baie incurred $100,000 in damage.

• In Toronto and some New England cities people reported feeling strong aftershocks, but no structural damage or injuries occurred.

• It's estimated that between 115 and 210 quakes with a magnitude higher than 6 occur each year across the globe. The majority of these take place at sea or in uninhabited areas.

• A Dec. 26, 1989, earthquake in Quebec's far north Ungava Bay region registered a magnitude of 6.3 and was felt in James Bay. No casualties resulted and little damage was reported.


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