Escuminac Hurricane of 1959

June 19, 1959: a fierce hurricane lashes the Gulf of St. Lawrence, wreaking awesome damage and disaster on the New Brunswick coast.

The storm devastates the small port of Escuminac, as 130 km/h winds and 15-meter waves sink 22 fishing boats and drown 35 men in the deadliest hurricane in Canadian history. The tragedy leaves 19 widows and 83 fatherless children, a catastrophic loss to a town of just 600 people.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the worst work-related disaster to occur in New Brunswick. This catastrophe, known as the Escuminac Disaster, took place during the night of June 19 - 20, 1959. That night a freak storm prevented twenty-two of them from returning. During the gales and swamping wakes of the storm, twenty-two boats were lost to the sea. Thirty-five men and boys drowned, the youngest victim was only 13. Drifting their salmon nets on a calm bay, were violently taken by a storm described as being, “two days and nights of terror”.

Tilly O’Neill Gordon, MP for Miramichi, is feeling very sad on this anniversary. “I grew up in Escuminac and I can still feel the pain all the people felt after that tragic night of June 20, 1959, when we lost 35 members of our community, she said.”

The Escuminac Hurricane (or Escuminac Disaster) is the name given for a rare June hurricane which struck Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence on the night of June 19 during the 1959 Atlantic hurricane season, sinking 22 fishing boats from the port of Escuminac, New Brunswick, Canada, and drowning 35.