Newly published murder mystery includes events of Hurricane Hazel, the storm that devastated Toronto

The murder/mystery “The Reluctant Virgin” is a tale of a fictional serial killer in Toronto during the 1950s. It is a chilling tale, as the blood is drained from the victims by the demented killer. The two detectives assigned to the case, as well as the teenagers who are involved in the plot, endure the turmoil created by Hurricane Hazel, which hit the city in October of 1954. The events of the disaster are woven into the story in such a way that they become a part of the plot. The reader is exposed to a realistic account of the hurricane, as seen through the eyes if the fictional characters.

From “The Reluctant Virgin”   

The morning after Hurricane Hazel hit Toronto, the skies remained cloudy. The winds had abated, and an eerie calm engulfed the rain-soaked city. In the Hudson home, the oatmeal was bubbling on the stove and the coffee was perking when Tom’s mother turned on the radio. As she placed the cereal bowls on the table, the aftermath of the previous night’s storm came across the airwaves.

The announcer said, “As many as thirty people might be dead, and the search for bodies continues. It is impossible to estimate the extent of the property losses, but authorities are estimating that it will be in the millions.

“Fifteen military groups and eight army reserves, totalling over eight hundred men, are being called in to assist the city. The streets of Toronto are littered with debris and hundreds of homes have been flooded. Some remain under water. The city requests that residents remain off the streets to allow crews to clean up the debris.


The flooded Humber River as seen on the morning after Hurricane Hazel swept through Toronto.

                City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series1057, Item 2001

“Throughout today and tomorrow, the bridges on the west side of Toronto will remain closed. The east end of the city has not been as severely hit, as the clash between the remnants of Hurricane Haze and the cold air from the west, collided to the northwest of the city, over Brampton, where the two storm systems spilled their massive water contents. The Humber Valley acted like a funnel, channelling the water southward through the city.

“Toronto has never suffered such devastation from a storm. It was unprepared for the fury of the onslaught of Hurricane Hazel.”

The aftermath of the storm:

Eighty-one people lost their lives, most of them in Toronto. On Raymore Drive alone, thirty-six had perished. In all, the damages totalled a hundred and thirty-five million dollars, which would be over a billion in today’s dollars. Many people lost everything, and were never reimbursed by their insurance companies, due to a technicality in their policies. They were covered for “damages from wind, rain, and hail,” but not for “high water overflow.”

Many families never recovered from the financial loss.

Raymore Drive, the Eglinton Flats, and the floodplains of the Humber Valley were to become of part of the Metropolitan Toronto Conservation Authority. Never again would they allow homes to be constructed on land that was in danger of being flooded. Millions of dollars, as well as clothing and food supplies were donated by residents of Toronto to assist those who had suffered losses.

Hurricane Hazel was a storm that was never to be equalled.

More information on the book, “The Reluctant Virgin.”:

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