June 19th, 2024

The Latest developments on the total solar eclipse that crossed parts of Canada

By The Canadian Press on April 8, 2024.

The rotating message on a digital signboard advises people to expect traffic delays, a day before a total solar eclipse will be visible in Kingston, Ont., Sunday, April 7, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A total solar eclipse passed through parts of Central and Atlantic Canada today, bringing darkness and a moment of celestial awe to massive crowds gathered in its path.

Here are the latest developments from across affected regions (all times eastern):

4:05 p.m.

The crowd in Kingston, Ont., quickly dispersed following the total eclipse, which turned on street lights and halted city buses.

People are discarding their gently-used eclipse glasses and packing up their blankets, coolers and kids.

Seagulls have returned to the skies and ducks in the lake, as the temperature begins to warm up again.

4 p.m.

Some cheered, others clapped, and people screamed and gasped as a bit of cloud blocking the sun moved away just in time for the moment of totality in Fredericton.

An ethereal darkness and silence fell over the crowds as people took off their solar glasses and gazed at the blackened sun.

Birds flew low, seagulls cawed and the temperature dropped noticeably.

As the moon moved and the diamond ring shone, people started clapping again.

“The sun is back,” someone screamed.

3:50 p.m.

In Ottawa, a public inquiry looking into foreign interference in Canada’s elections paused its proceedings so the assembled lawyers, witnesses and journalists could watch the eclipse.

They stood outside the Library and Archives building in downtown Ottawa as the sky darkened, some sharing their eclipse glasses.

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3:47 p.m.

The 2024 total solar eclipse has exited North America.

It passed through parts of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Canadians and visitors gathered in all six provinces to witness the celestial event, which won’t be seen in this country again until 2044.

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3:35 p.m.

Jurors in a high-profile murder trial in Toronto were given an early break this afternoon in case they wanted to see the eclipse.

Court took its recess at 3:12 pm instead of 3:30 pm.

Inside the courthouse, people gathered at the windows as the sky gradually grew darker.

Outside, dozens of people in suits stood staring at the cloudy sky, most of them without protective eyewear.

Across the street, a crowd also watched from the rooftop of the U.S. consulate.

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3:30 p.m.

The darkness of totality reached Kingston, Ont.

People in Lake Ontario Park began cheering and howling at the eclipse.

The full eclipse lasted four minutes, with people cheering as the sun began shining over the crowd.

Volunteers for the city frantically started telling people to put their glasses back on over a megaphone as the sun began to show itself again.

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3:20 p.m.

The streetlights came on in downtown Toronto as the moon passed in front of the sun, blocking its light.

Canada’s most populous city is just outside the path of totality.

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3:12 p.m.

The total solar eclipse has now entered Canada in southwestern Ontario.

This according to the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The solar eclipse’s path of totality will pass through parts of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada before exiting North America at 3:46 p.m. eastern time.

3:10 p.m.

As the partial solar eclipse sets in over Kingston, Ont., the temperature is dropping, fewer birds are flying around and the ducks are swimming closer to shore.

Patty Hone from Orillia, Ont., says she bought her glasses one year ago, and that today’s eclipse is so far exceeding her year-long anticipation as the sun’s visibility has been reduced to a sliver.

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2:50 p.m.

Six-year-old Temperance Martin is among the crowds of eclipse-watchers out in Fredericton.

She brought with her a tiny clay model of the Earth, moon and sun, which she held in the palm of her hand.

She and her three-year-old sister Millicent were dressed for the celestial event in matching black and starry gold tutus.

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2:45 p.m.

A crowd of about 100 people in Gander, N.L., cheered as they watched the moon edge into the path of the sun.

Six-year-old Eva Halliday held a pinhole camera that she’d made out of a shoe box as she stood with the eclipse-watchers at the local College of the North Atlantic campus.

She said she was “very excited” about the eclipse.

She was also very excited about her pinhole camera, which she’d painted with bright coloured planets and stars.

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2:25 p.m.

The clouds are parting in Kingston, Ont., just as the partial eclipse is setting in, attracting cheers from a crowd gathered in Lake Ontario Park.

Volunteers are reminding people through megaphones to wear their sunglasses while looking at the sun.

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2:20 p.m.

Traffic is heavy around Montreal, particularly heading toward the Eastern Townships, where the total eclipse will last the longest.

Cameras show traffic moving at a crawl on Highway 10 east of Montreal, and a Transport Quebec official says some routes are more congested than usual.

The city’s subway system is also crowded, particularly heading to the station at Parc Jean-Drapeau on the former Expo 67 site, where hordes have gathered to watch the eclipse.

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2 p.m.

The partial solar eclipse is now visible in parts of Canada.

It’s set to cross into totality at about 3:12 p.m., starting in southwestern Ontario before moving through Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

It will exit Newfoundland at about 3:45 p.m. eastern time.

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1:40 p.m.

City of Kingston volunteers have showed up at Lake Ontario Park to hand out eclipse glasses for those who need them.

Auxiliary parking lots are being opened to allow more people into the park.

Skies remain partly cloudy and benches and tables are being claimed quickly.

The partial eclipse doesn’t begin until 2:09 p.m. in Kingston but many people are already wearing their glasses and playing with their telescopes, most looking at the sky.

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1:40 p.m.

The crowd at Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau includes a number of international tourists who have come for the solar eclipse.

Michelle Crotteau says she came up from Virginia with a handful of family and friends to spend her 60th birthday “in the path of totality.”

She says she witnessed the total eclipse in the United States in 2017, and calls the experience “magical and awe-inspiring.”

Roger and Sandra Kirkham, from the British island of Jersey, off the French coast, are in Montreal celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

They admit they hadn’t know about the eclipse until recently, but say they’re loving soaking up at the atmosphere at the park, which includes the presence of many children.

Sandra Kirkham says the last total eclipse she saw was in Britain in 1999 – the year the couple married.

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1:35 p.m.

Len Seals, an optical engineer who works on NASA telescopes, including the James Webb space telescope, says the eclipse is a chance to see the natural phenomenon as it happens, in person.

Seals travelled to Montreal for the eclipse from Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

He says he’s used to looking at things through a computer screen and not with his own eyes, so this is a different experience.

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1:30 p.m.

In western Prince Edward Island, near a lighthouse at the tip of North Cape, hundreds of people gathered at the Wind Energy Interpretive Centre, which is normally closed at this time of year.

The centre’s parking lot, flanked by more than two dozen wind turbines, was jammed to overflowing.

Dozens of eclipse-chasers set up lawn chairs and strolled along a rocky spit that juts into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which was decidedly calm despite a stiff westerly breeze.

Spirits were high as the sun shone through a thin layer of high-altitude clouds.

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1:20 p.m.

Galina Sherren, an undergraduate physics student at Memorial University, came to Gander, N.L., from St. John’s to view the eclipse with a group of her fellow students.

She says the eclipse provides a unique opportunity to understand more about the sun.

She says the next opportunity people in Newfoundland will have to see a total eclipse will be in 2070, which means today’s eclipse may be a once-in-a-lifetime event for the 22-year-old.

Sherren says the excitement of the event really hit home when she arrived in Gander, where a large community viewing event is planned today.

She says she’s heard that witnessing a rare astronomical spectacle such as a total eclipse can be quite emotional, and she’s prepared for it.

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1:10 p.m.

Carole Giangrande and Brian Gibson have been eclipse chasing for 45 years.

The Toronto couple is in Kingston to witness their fifth eclipse, their first being in Gimli, Manitoba in 1979.

Giangrande says so much in the world right now “is so rotten” but watching an eclipse together brings feelings of positivity and wonder.

She says “there’s no human experience that can match it.”

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1:05 p.m.

Thousands of people are already gathered at a viewing site in Montreal’s Jean-Drapeau park for what organizers have billed as the “eclipse of the century.”

It’s a bright, sunny day, and people have spread out across the site with picnic blankets, sun hats and small telescopes.

Eight-year-old Albert Duchéné can hardly contain his excitement for what he’s calling an “unforgettable moment.”

He says he wanted to come to the viewing site so he could watch the eclipse with people from across Montreal, Canada and from other countries.

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12:55 p.m.

This will be Kevin Fitzpatrick’s third total eclipse.

The Nova Scotia resident drove up with his wife and two sons to Fredericton to see the celestial event.

He says it was a lucky case of “being in the right place at the right time” in the past – in Africa and Australia – when he happened to see two previous total solar eclipses.

But this time is special because he wants to see the reaction of his sons – three-year-old Rourke and seven-year-old Connor – as the sun slides behind the moon.

The family wore eclipse-themed T-shirts for the special day.

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12:45 p.m.

Tommy Donovan drove up to Fredericton from Lantz, N.S., last night to see his first total solar eclipse today.

He came equipped with a camera fitted with a solar cover so he could get a few pictures of the sun, sun spots and the partial eclipse.

He says as soon as totality sets in, he’s looking to take photos of the sun, streamers and magnetic loops – shards of light shooting out from the corona.

Donovan says he wants to “feel” and “immerse” himself in the eclipse and not just take pictures of the event.

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12:25 p.m.

Scott Rhind travelled up to Niagara Falls, Ont., from just south of Detroit to see today’s solar eclipse.

He saw the most recent one in 2017 from his brother’s place in Tennessee, and he says he’s not sure he’ll make it to 2044 to see the next one, so today might be his last shot.

Rhind has been parked in a lawn chair right in front of the Falls since 8:30 a.m. to secure his spot.

He’s been planning this trip since last July.

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12:10 p.m.

Greg Slater, a dentist from Toronto, has been planning for today’s solar eclipse for a while.

He says he booked the day off from work at the beginning of the year so he could travel somewhere along the path of totality.

He landed on Kingston – a last minute pivot from Niagara Falls, where clouds are in the forecast.

Slater says it seems to be paying off, as clouds are clearing and offering a better chance to view the eclipse.

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12 p.m.

Benoît Reeves, a science communicator and son of late Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, travelled from Paris to Quebec just to see the eclipse.

The Montreal-born Reeves says he’s already witnessed eclipses in the past and it was such a moving, powerful experience, he simply had to attend.

He was attending an event at the Astrolab in Mont Mégantic, east of Montreal, where 2,500 people got tickets to watch the eclipse today.

Reeves says the conditions are magnificent, there is good weather and the path of totality passes right over Mont Mégantic.

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11:45 a.m.

Seven-year-old Avalon Gardner-Duffy, who drove up to Fredericton with her parents and siblings from Nova Scotia, says she’s very excited to see her first solar eclipse.

She says she’s looking forward to the “black bump” of the moon blocking the sun, and “the shine coming up from behind.”

Her mother told her and her siblings to make sure they didn’t miss the eclipse by having to use the washroom at the moment the sun is blocked by the moon.

They laughed and agreed it was an important point.

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11:30 a.m.

Two friends from York University are among those flocking to Niagara Falls to witness this afternoon’s solar eclipse.

Iyalie Russell and Gabby Gregor met in a history of astronomy class last year, and their professor told them about the upcoming eclipse.

They woke up at 3 a.m. to drive from Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ont.

Gregor says they’ve watched lunar eclipses together before, so they wanted to continue their eclipse-watching tradition.

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11 a.m.

An 89-year-old resident of Kingston, Ont., says this won’t be his first solar eclipse, but it will be pretty special.

Tom Rance says for some people, it may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – “almost like watching the Leafs win the Stanley Cup.”

Rance is among the first people to head to Lake Ontario Park, where the city is holding a viewing.

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10:45 a.m.

The eclipse prompted the Canadian women’s soccer team to train earlier today, ahead of tomorrow’s SheBelieves Cup final against the U.S. in Columbus, Ohio.

The shift also allows the players to watch the eclipse with protective glasses purchased for the entire group.

The city is just outside the path of totality. At the peak of the eclipse, the sun will be about 99.6 per cent shrouded in shadow.

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10:10 a.m.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques says a total solar eclipse is a rare chance for people to have a direct connection with what’s happening in space.

He says getting to feel the moon’s shadow on Earth is a reminder of the “cosmic ballet” that’s constantly playing out in space.

While total solar eclipses happen somewhere on earth almost every year, he says there hasn’t been one in his home city of Montreal since the 1930s.

He says eclipses also provide scientists an opportunity to learn more about the sun and to study its properties.

9:50 a.m.

People are slowly trickling into Kingston’s Lake Ontario Park, unpacking blankets, chairs and coolers filled with drinks and snacks.

One man from Toronto says he’s considering driving to Montreal, which he says has clear skies forecasted, as he eyes the cloud coverage coming off from the lake.

City of Kingston workers at the park were all given free glasses to view the eclipse.

9:15 a.m.

Residents of Burgeo, N.L., woke up to clear blue skies as they prepared to celebrate the solar eclipse, which holds particular resonance in the town.

British cartographer Cpt. James Cook experienced a partial eclipse in 1766 on Eclipse Island, which is just off the shore from Burgeo.

Michael Ward, the fishing village’s town clerk manager, says the town will celebrate today’s spectacular solar event while honouring its special place in eclipse history.

He says there are songs and smudging ceremonies planned with the Burgeo First Nation, and the local fire department will sound an alarm when the moon blocks the sun completely, signalling that it’s safe for everyone to remove their eclipse glasses.

9 a.m.

Officials in Kingston, Ont., have blocked off several streets near downtown to accommodate throngs of eclipse watchers.

Locals are debating whether the city will see more people today than they did in 2016 when The Tragically Hip played their final show there.

As of this morning, just a handful of people were on the shore of Lake Ontario Park waiting for the eclipse.

8:40 a.m.

Eclipse watchers in Niagara Falls, Ont. are lining up to try to break a Guinness World Record.

The city is trying to get 300 people to dress up in sun costumes.

A sign by the falls reads those participating must be wearing black, yellow or white pants.

Officials say it’s a fun way to celebrate the solar eclipse – which will be on full view in the border community.

Niagara Falls is in the path of totality – a swath of North America which will see the skies go completely dark.

8:25 a.m.

The city of Niagara Falls is reminding residents to “prioritize safety” as crowds gather to witness the eclipse.

The border community is one of the best places in North America to view the eclipse.

Officials are warning of traffic congestion and long lines.

Niagara Regional police warn that many roads will be closed due to the celestial event.

The city is urging eclipse watchers to “make smart choices.” It is not safe to look at the eclipse without special glasses.

8 a.m.

The downtown area of Niagara Falls, Ont., is quite lively this morning. Several people are strolling by the falls, and many were seen lined up outside a Tim Hortons.

A row of portable washrooms are sitting across from the falls where the cruise operates. The city has set up a stage next to the portable washrooms. A big and bright sun is peeking through mostly cloudy skies every few minutes by the falls.

A shisha lounge with a tent set up outside has put out a sign saying eclipse glasses are being sold here.

4 a.m.

Forecasts suggest cloudy skies may spoil the view for some eclipse chasers in southern Ontario.

Sean Akiyama, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, says the Niagara region is forecast to see mainly cloudy skies, with better conditions expected on the eastern and southwestern edges of the province.

Eclipse chasers in Quebec and the Maritimes are in better shape, with the forecast showing clear or mostly clear skies in those areas.

A low-pressure system looming over Newfoundland is also expected to bring some cloud cover to some parts of the island.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2024.

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