Audio Maps: the great North American Blackout of August 2003

Thursday, 14 August 2003, Toronto.

Another torrid day of August at my office in Mississauga, the city neighboring Toronto at the West.

The SARSStock Concert was two weeks ago but we’re still talking about it at the office. And about SARS as well. We all agree that nothing worse can happen to Toronto in the summer than an epidemic.

Good thing the weekend is almost here! It’s the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) opening weekend and the first-day tickets are always a deal!

By 4 PM I begin wrapping up my work at the office but…at 4:11 PM the lights go out in my basement cubicle! And not only, but in all building.

Our boss steps in and sends us all home.

I have a long commute ahead to my apartment on Avenue&St Clair in Toronto, so I turn the radio on AM 680 News, to check the traffic. And…surprise!


All of Toronto, no, all of Ontario, no, ALL OF NORTH-EASTERN AMERICA is without electricity!


Day 2 of the North American Blackout: Friday 15 August 2003

10 million people are affected in Ontario, and 45 million in USA (spread over 8 states).

It’s the second largest blackout in history and I just found an old tape player with batteries in it!

Why not recording this historical event?

August 2012

I shared the blackout recordings from August 2003 on

Inspired by Krissy Clark and her audio maps on Stories Everywhere, I built a Google Map using those recordings. The radio jocks I recorded those days did a great job taking the pulse of a nation. Enjoy the stories and share your own memories by leaving a comment.


Leave a Comment

    • What a beautiful song, Sean. Takes me back to the times when historical events inspired the likes of Woody Guthrie. THANK YOU for sharing!

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