As It Happens

'Windsor Hum' is louder than ever and boy, is it annoying

The Windsor hum is back again. Or, to be precise, it never left. Residents say it's louder than ever — and driving them nuts.
Mike Provost looking out towards Zug Island, where the hum is believed to originate, says the hum is back and worse than ever. (Mike Provost)
Listen5:36

Locals say the irritating noise that bleeds into Windsor from across the Detroit River is louder than ever. The low-frequency rumble emanates throughout parts of Windsor and Essex County, in Ontario. 

Dubbed the "Windsor hum", the 35 Hz tone and vibration is believed to originate from Zug Island, a heavily industrialized island that is home to a U.S. Steel mill.

"Once you hear it, you're done. You'll always hear it," resident Mike Provost tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

"Sunday night ...  you can't explain how intense the hum was. If you can think of thunder, and a constant level of thunder, it lasted about an hour and a half."

You get nauseous, you get stress with your neck and your shoulders, you get a little dizzy- Mike Provost, Windsor resident

The hum was so intense that Provost says he only slept for three hours that night and not much more since.

A Facebook group dedicated to the Windsor hum has a number of posts by frustrated residents talking about the noise.

"You get nauseous, you get stress with your neck and your shoulders, you get a little dizzy," says Provost. He has concerns about what the stress is doing to his body.

Here's a recording of the hum. Because the frequency is hard to hear on computers, we've boosted the audio levels:

CLIP: Windsor Hum 0:11

Although a 2014 report pointed the finger at Zug Island, the exact source of the annoyance has not been confirmed because Canadian researchers were not able to access the site. The island is off limits to the public and cameras are not allowed inside the complex.

Researchers traced the Windsor hum to Zug Island. (Mike Provost)

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been working on the file for years but Provost doesn't expect government officials to fix the hum any time soon.

"They were meeting at a table. I'm hoping they are still at a table," says Provost. "We had a change in government and that essentially put us back at day one because we had to bring everyone up to date."

Provost doesn't know why the hum is so loud lately, but he doesn't target U.S. Steel, "You don't want to point the fingers until you know the source — and that's our struggle right now because we don't know the source."

Zug Island has been producing steel since 1901 when the Detroit Steel Mill built its first blast furnace there. The island was also the final destination of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, made famous by singer Gordon Lightfoot.

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