That time it rained frogs in Toronto
The weather forecast on the front page of The Evening Star for June 8, 1898 read: "unsettled, with showers and thunderstorms." Whoever wrote that sentence forgot to mention the possibility of frogs. According to a story on the paper's front page, "Langley Avenue [was] covered with thousands of them" following a day of deeply unsettled weather. The "small fellows came with yesterday's rain," it said, tumbling from the heavens.
The fierce winds on the day in question were strong enough to upset boats in the Toronto Harbour. North of the city, between Newmarket and Holland Landing, powerful winds uprooted trees, washed out the Grand Trunk Railway line, and blew down telegraph poles.
"'Twas a cyclone," read the headline.
But there, two columns to the right, the title that caught everyone's eye: "a shower of little frogs."
"This is true. It is not a fairy tale," the story started, perhaps overdoing the sincerity. "The sky had been overcast, but gave no indication that it had anything unusual for the residents of that locality until, with a peal of thunder, the shower came. And it couldn't have been altogether a shower of rain either; it was a deluge of frogs."
The creatures that slapped onto the ground were appeared to be young, "not old and tough," and were so numerous they could been seen along the street. They were grey and about the size of the end of a thumb, according to the un-named eyewitness who wrote the story.
"The tires of my bicycle committed several dozen murders at each revolution until I could wheel away from the gruesome place ... they stayed on the ground for some time under the espionage of a crowd of East Enders, and then in dozens they hopped to the ditches and pools, and we all hurried away to church."
Was it true? We have no way to know for certain. The story doesn't appear to have been repeated in any other publications, but animals, especially frogs, have been recorded falling from the sky for centuries. The little creatures the Evening Star recorded, which likely weighed no more than a few grams, were likely tossed into air by a waterspout over the Don River or other nearby body of water. Sadly, there are no photos of the incident.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
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