May 15, 2021

Abandoned – Saint-Jean-Vianney, Quebec

Saint-Jean-Vianney, Quebec
Saint-Jean-Vianney, Quebec

Unusually, there is little information about the disaster that devastated the tiny village of Saint-Jean-Vianney in Québec on May 4, 1971. What is known tells us that following a period of extremely heavy rain, the notoriously unstable Leda Clay—upon which the town had been built—liquefied and collapsed. This created a thiry-meter high abyss, which consumed as many as forty houses.

Prior to this cataclysm, the townspeople reported a number of strange occurrences: the foundations of several houses sank six to eight inches into the soil, large cracks appeared in streets and driveways, and people reported hearing heavy thumping noises (as well as the sound of running water) coming from underground. Nevertheless, in the five minutes that it took for this landslide to occur, thirty-one people were killed—a figure which would have been much higher if it had happened later at night. Unsurprisingly, the village was later abandoned by the remaining residents, who were rehoused in the nearby city of Arvida.