Avalanches involve the rapid downslope movement of snow or ice, with or without
sediment and rock. Avalanches require a combination of steep
slopes and a heavy snowfall. A common trigger is the deposition of
wet snow over ice or a hard crust, with failure occurring at the base of the snow.
Alternatively, high winds can produce a
cornice, which may break off, causing an
avalanche on the slope below.
Incidences of avalanches in Newfoundland and Labrador
are shown in the following map. The larger version provides pop-up information on
locations, dates, deaths, and injuries, along with other comments and an
Tilt Cove, Baie Verte Peninsula
The larger version of this map shows the locations of all recorded
avalanches in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1833 to 1997. Moving the
mouse over any location will call up information on the landslide occurring
in that place.
Map adapted by Don Walsh and Tina Riche, 2000.
with more information. (46 kb)
In the late part of the 19th century and the first few years of the 20th century,
several serious avalanches affected mining operations and communities on the Baie
Verte Peninsula, and in the Bay of Islands. Sixteen people were killed in these
disasters; the most complete documentation is for the March 11, 1912
avalanche that occurred at Tilt Cove. An avalanche struck two houses built at the
head of the cove at the foot of a steep slope, one belonging to Mr. Francis
Williams, manager of the Cape Copper Company, and the other belonging to a Mr.
Cunningham, JP, the telegrapher and customs officer.
with more information (48 kb).
with more information (40 kb).
| The Home of Francis Williams.
On the left is the Williams' home at Tilt Cove, ca. 1910. On the
right are the remains of the house following an avalanche in March
Left image courtesy of Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and
Labrador (PANL A24-100).
Right image courtesy of the MacKinnon family.
In each home, the families were sitting down to tea when the avalanche struck. Vera Alcock,
the daughter of Mr. Cunningham, was interviewed in 1996, and recalled that a heavy
snow fall had followed freezing rain the previous day. Both houses were smashed
by the avalanche, and Mr. Williams and his 13-year-old son were killed instantly.
Two servants in the Williams household were also killed. Mrs. Williams and her two
daughters were rescued after three and a half hours of burial, without serious
injury. In the Cunningham household, most survived with minor injuries, but Edward
Cunningham, aged 3, and a servant, Emily were buried, and crushed against the wood
stove. They were rescued after two hours of digging. Edward survived with minor
burns thanks to the efforts of Emily to keep him safe. Emily, however, was severely
burned and died later.
||Gravestone of Francis Williams.
and his son were killed by an avalanche in Tilt Cove in 1912.
Reproduced by permission of the Government of Newfoundland and
Labrador © 1992.
information (40 kb).
Images and text reproduced by permission of M. Batterson, D.G.E.
Liverman, J. Ryan and D. Taylor, The Assessment of Geological Hazards
and Disasters in Newfoundland: An Update. (St. John's: Government of
Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of Mines and Energy, Geological
Survey, © 1999) unless otherwise noted.