The 16 September, 1732, Montréal earthquake

The following description is taken from:

Smith, W E T. 1966 Earthquakes of eastern Canada and Adjacent areas 1534-1927 Publications of the Dominion Observatory, vol. 26, no. 51962.

Readers interested in this earthquake should also read two modern papers on this earthquake:

  • Leblanc, Gabriel, 1981. "A closer look at the September 1732, Montreal earthquake". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 18; 3, pages 539-550.

and

  • Stevens, A., 1991. "Damage associated with three early Eastern North American earthquakes", 6th Canadian Conférence of Eartqhuake Engineering, Toronto. 807-814.

1732 SEPTEMBER 16. 11:00 A.M.

At Montreal, Que., chimneys fell and walls were cracked. Three hundred houses were damaged. One girl was killed.2.

"The Mother Duplessis of St. Helen, Superior of the Hotel Dieu at Quebec, after speaking in a letter of October 20, 1732, of the fire at Montreal which had destroyed 185 dwellings adds:

'One month ago an earthquake caused unexpressible consternation. The first shock which lasted two or three minutes damaged 300 houses, many chimneys tumbled down; walls cracked; people were wounded and one girl was killed2; showers of stones spread everywhere seemingly thrown by invisible hands; finally there was such universal fright that the houses were deserted, people slept in the gardens and beasts were shrieking thereby redoubling the fears of men ....

Many have fled and have come to Quebec having a fear of being buried alive under the ruins of that poor city. What is worse, all is not yet finished. There are no days when it is not felt; some wells are extremely dry and roads appear plowed.


  1. Leblanc (1981) suggests a Modified Mercalli intensity of VIII. ↩ [1]

  2. Leblanc (1981) did not find any evidence of this casualty. ↩ [2] ↩ [2]