Abstract

Most catalogs on earthquakes felt in eastern North America list, as a first entry, an earth tremor of intensity IX to X (MM scale) reported from the region of Les Éboulements in the St. Lawrence Valley (Québec) some time between the summers of 1534 and 1535. This statement is based in part on a Huron oral tradition which states that, before 1637, an earthquake was felt in Old Huronia. The date of the earthquake, the location of its epicentral region, and its size are not mentioned and cannot be inferred.

An analysis of the evolution in the interpretation of this Huron tradition reveals that R. G. Thwaites (ca. 1900) is at the origin of an erroneous understanding of this earthquake: its date, size, and location. The present study aims at correcting the misinterpretation of the original tradition and suggests the following statement thought to be in better accord with Le Jeune's Relation:

Prior to 1637, an earth tremor of intensity such that it could be remembered in a local oral tradition was reported felt in Old Huronia at the southeast end of Georgian Bay, Ontario. The exact date, location, and size of the earthquake that caused it are unknown.

Old Huronia is 800 km west of the presently accepted site of Les Éboulements (Québec).

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