67. Vancouver Island Earthquake (1946)

Vancouver Island Earthquake 1
 Vancouver Island Earthquake 2
 Vancouver Island Earthquake 3

Canada's largest historic onshore earthquake occurred at 10:13 a.m. Pacific time on Sunday, June 23, 1946. The epicentre was in the Forbidden Plateau area of central Vancouver Island, just west of the communities of Courtenay and Campbell River. The earthquake caused damage on Vancouver Island, and was felt as far away as Portland, Oregon, to the south and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to the north. It triggered numerous landslides across central Vancouver Island and on the mainland.

The earthquake knocked down 75% of the chimneys in the closest communities of Cumberland, Union Bay, and Courtenay, and did considerable damage in Comox, Port Alberni, and Powell River. A number of chimneys were shaken down as far away as Victoria, and it frightened people in both Victoria and Vancouver, causing many to run into the streets. The earthquake caused two deaths – one due to drowning when a small boat capsized in an earthquake-generated wave, and the other, in Seattle, caused by a heart attack.

As a result of this earthquake, seismologist W.G. Milne was transferred to Victoria, new sensitive seismometers were installed, and the systematic location and study of Canadian earthquakes began in earnest.

Category: Buildings and Places

Decade: 1940s


Hodgson, E.A., 1946. The British Columbia earthquake, June 23, 1946; The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, v. 40, p. 285–319.

Rogers, G.C. and Hasegawa, H.S., 1978. A second look at the British Columbia earthquake of 23 June, 1946; Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 68, p. 653–676.

GSC 175 - CGC 175