Stratford Blackout 1950  by  Ellen Thomas,  Stratford -Perth Archives

Stratford Beacon Herald, September 25, 1950 "Smoke from Alberta Causes a Blackout"

Many thought it was the end of the world, others credited it to the atomic bomb, some believed it was an eclipse of the sun, but most Stratford people were at a complete loss to explain the eerie midnight blackness that descended on the city Sunday noon.

Ontario Street  photo taken at 1:30 p.m.,1950  Stratford- Perth Archives

Until the official report came through from the Dominion Weather Bureau at Toronto that the phenomenal condition was caused by forest fires in Northern Alberta, panic-stricken and curious residents were frantically phoning the police and to the Beacon Herald to find out what was wrong.

There were various reactions. One husband went home to find his wife glued to the telephone with only one light on in the house. He asked why she didn’t go into the living room and turn on the lights. “I thought it was the end of the world,” she said, “and at least you wouldcall me to say good-bye.” Other wives became hysterical as they found themselves alone in the house encompassed in darkness and called their husbands to come home before something earth-shattering befell the city. Their spouses hastened to their firesides.

Late sleepers were befuddled when they awoke and discovered it was still night. The Bell Telephone Company reported several calls asking what time it was and then meekly,” A.M. or P.M.?”

City street lights were turned on for part of the afternoon (as seen at about 1:30 p.m., in this Beacon Herald photo, from the Stratford-Perth Archives Beacon Herald negative collection).