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Total solar eclipse has Ontarians gazing skyward in awe


Here’s how the province experienced the eclipse

On Sunday, April 8th, inhabitants of the Greater Toronto Area, as well as regions in Eastern Canada and the United States, were presented with a unique chance to observe a total solar eclipse. The previous occurrence of such an event dates back to 1925, a time when most of us were not yet alive. The prospect of witnessing such a phenomenon won’t arise again until 2144.

Total Solar Eclipse experiences across Ontario
Total Solar Eclipse in Burlington Ontario Canada, photo by Samuel Hiltz-Shane

Excitement buzzed within my family, particularly my son, who harboured a deep fascination for space exploration. Despite the anticipated traffic jams and the brevity of the event, we were resolute in our determination to witness this celestial spectacle. Embarking on a journey from Thornhill to Burlington, we disregarded warnings of potential emergencies stemming from the massive influx of spectators into Toronto. Eventually finding parking in a grassy area, we made our way to the beach. Though the sky was veiled with clouds, the air carried a comfortable warmth. As the clock approached 2:20, beams of sunlight penetrated the clouds, signaling the imminent celestial alignment. With bated breath, we donned our special glasses, eagerly observing the gradual progression of the moon as it obscured the sun.

The clouds opened up and eclipse onlookers in Burlington rejoiced as the Moon began to creep across the Sun.
photo by Terry Lankstead

Cold & Dark

On any typical sunny day, it’s almost instinctual to don sunglasses and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. But as you approach the midpoint between first contact, marking the start of the eclipse, and second contact, the onset of totality, the need for sunglasses diminishes, and the sensation of the sun’s heat fades into the background. It’s a realization that often dawns only after the fact, as you search for your sunglasses and find yourself amid what now feels like a pleasantly cool, cloudy day.

Total Solar Eclipse moments at Spencer Smith Park, Burlington, Ontario

Above: Total Solar Eclipse gathering at Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario. Top 3 images by Terry Lankstead, Bottom two images by Sam Hiltz-Shane

As the moment of totality draws nearer, the world around you undergoes a remarkable transformation. Instead of the usual daylight, the ambiance shifts to a dusk-like hue. Birds take flight and retreat, replaced by the rhythmic chirping of crickets. And perhaps most notably, the bothersome presence of insects seems to vanish, providing a welcome relief. Unlike us humans, wildlife doesn’t receive weeks of advance notice about the impending eclipse, so they simply respond to the sudden change as if it were the natural conclusion of their day. It’s a fascinating and unexpected spectacle, witnessing nature’s spontaneous reaction to this extraordinary celestial event.

3:20 pm

At approximately 3:20 pm in Burlington, ON., the moon fully eclipsed the sun, casting the surroundings into a surreal darkness. My son, deeply passionate about space, diligently captured this mesmerizing moment in photographs for over an hour. It was an undeniable spectacle, destined to remain etched in our memories forever.

The atmosphere crackled with significance, as if we stood at the threshold of an otherworldly event. As the sky turned pitch black and our shadows vanished, it seemed we were poised for an encounter with extraterrestrial beings, or perhaps witnessing the emergence of figures of mythic proportions from the lake’s depths.

Total Solar Eclipse, Burlington, Ontario. The moon moves across and away from the sun. photo by Sam Hiltz-Shane

Around Ontario

Throughout Ontario, the total solar eclipse captivated spectators as it traversed the sky on Monday, extending its awe-inspiring display to Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Social media platforms buzzed with a flood of photos and images capturing this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

Thousands eagerly congregated at various vantage points along the path of totality, anticipating the moon’s passage between the sun and the earth. In southwestern Ontario, the eclipse made its grand entrance, drawing spectators to parks, stadiums, and prompting workers to step outside their offices for a glimpse.


In Toronto, despite cloudy skies obscuring the full view of the eclipse, some residents turned to social media to share their disappointment. Nevertheless, as the city experienced a momentary darkness and streetlights flickered on, the moon successfully obscured 90 percent of the sun.

Niagara Falls State of Emergency

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati pinpointed two major obstacles that thwarted the anticipated gathering of one million people in the city to witness the eclipse on Monday: inclement weather and the region’s declaration of a state of emergency. In an interview with CTV News Toronto on Tuesday, Diodati emphasized the significant impact of the state of emergency, stating that it had a substantial downward effect on attendance, with concerns among people regarding bringing their families into an area under such circumstances.

Although over 200,000 individuals still attended the rare celestial event, it was only a fraction of the crowd size initially expected by the city.

Niagara Falls, being in the path of totality, was hailed as one of the prime locations globally to observe the eclipse. The decision to declare a state of emergency on Mar. 29 by the Niagara Region was characterized as a precautionary measure to bolster available resources and ensure the safety of residents and visitors amidst the potential influx of visitors. While the measure was lifted without incident after the eclipse event concluded, Mayor Diodati expressed the adverse impact it had on tourism in a city striving to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Time Was It?

The total solar eclipse made its entrance into Ontario from the south just before 2 p.m. EDT on Monday, bidding farewell to Newfoundland just after 5 p.m. EDT, or 6:30 p.m. NDT.

In hotspots like Niagara Falls, Kingston, Montreal, and Fredericton, spectators eagerly awaited the moon’s passage between the sun and Earth, with some lucky enough to witness it for as long as three and a half minutes.

Here’s a closer look at what unfolded at some of the most popular viewing spots:

Fort Erie

Experiencing the longest duration of darkness in Ontario, Fort Erie saw maximum totality of 3 minutes and 43 seconds between 3:18 p.m. and 3:21 p.m. EDT. Despite the cloudy skies, attendees gathered on Waverly Beach, mesmerized by nearly four minutes of darkness. Visitors, including those from Sarnia, marveled at the experience, deeming it time well spent.


With maximum totality lasting 1 minute and 47 seconds between 3:18 p.m. and 3:20 p.m. EDT, Hamilton witnessed a break in the clouds just in time for several thousand spectators at Tim Hortons Field to experience total darkness. The crowd cheered as the temperature dropped and darkness enveloped the stadium.

Niagara Falls

As the eclipse hit totality for approximately 3 minutes and 32 seconds between 3:18 p.m. and 3:21 p.m. EDT, spectators in Niagara Falls anticipated a picturesque view. Despite cloudy conditions, the crowd erupted in excitement as the clouds briefly parted, offering a glimpse of the eclipse. A concert was held in Queen Victoria Park, headlined by Kington rockers, The Glorious Sons.



With maximum totality lasting 2 minutes and 52 seconds between 3:22 p.m. and 3:23 p.m. EDT, crowds near the waterfront and around city hall cheered as totality arrived right on schedule at 3:22 p.m. EDT. Attendees marveled at the glowing ring in the sky before the sun reappeared, signalling the end of the eclipse.

Other parts of Canada


Meanwhile, in Quebec, where the weather promised optimal visibility and was anticipated to be the best in North America, spectators found themselves far from disappointed. Describing the event as “one of the coolest moments” of their lives, they were treated to a spectacular view of the eclipse.


Thousands gathered at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with some arriving as early as 7 a.m., to witness the eclipse. With maximum totality lasting 1 minute and 26 seconds between 3:26 p.m. and 3:27 p.m. EDT, the crowd experienced an electric atmosphere as darkness fell and cheering rang out across the city.


In Fredericton, the eclipse began its partial phase at 3:23 p.m. ADT, with maximum totality lasting 2 minutes and 12 seconds between 4:33 p.m. and 4:35 p.m. ADT. Spectators in areas like Woodstock, Florenceville-Bristol, and Miramichi witnessed the sun’s light covered by the moon for just over three minutes, creating ideal viewing conditions.

P.E.I. and Newfoundland

Northern Prince Edward Island, a sliver of the northern tip of Nova Scotia, and central Newfoundland were also part of the path of totality, with maximum totality lasting 3 minutes and 15 seconds in northern P.E.I. and 2 minutes and 54 seconds in eastern Newfounland.

The History

History records instances of solar eclipses dating back to antiquity, with ancient civilizations crafting myths and legends to explain these awe-inspiring events. From the ancient Chinese, who believed a celestial dragon devoured the sun, to the Norse tales of wolves chasing the sun across the sky, eclipses have stirred the human imagination for centuries.

Last Total Solar Eclipse Seen in Ontario Was 1925

A total solar eclipse, like the one that occurred on Monday had not been seen in eastern Ontario since 1925. Orbax, a physicist and science communicator at the University of Guelph’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said the upcoming eclipse marked a “legitimate once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The eclipse’s path cut its way through eastern Ontario and eastern Canada for the first time since 1925, and this won’t happen again until 2144,” Orbax acknowledged.

A solar eclipse occurs approximately every 18 months somewhere on Earth. However, the frequency of total solar eclipses at any given location is much lower, with some locations experiencing a total eclipse only once every few centuries.

The last total solar eclipse visible from Earth occurred on December 4, 2021. This eclipse was visible in parts of Antarctica, the southern Atlantic Ocean, and southern Africa.

Final Thoughts

As the curtain closed on the celestial spectacle of the total solar eclipse, it marked not just a convergence of astronomical phenomena but also a profound convergence of a generational milestones. Under the shadow of the moon, we bore witness to the cosmic ballet, a spectacle that had last graced the skies of eastern Ontario almost one hundred years earlier. It was indeed a fusion of once-in-a-lifetime experience. As we reflect on the rarity of such occurrence we’re reminded of the fleeting nature of time and the enduring wonder of the universe, leaving us humbled and enriched by the shared experience of generations past and present gazing skyward in awe.

by Myles Shane

lead photo Total solar eclipse Bronte Beach, Ontario, photo by Kevin Kowalchuk

second lead photo Total Solar Eclipse captured in Burlington, Ontario Canada on April 8, 2024. by Samuel Hiltz-Shane

More images and social media posts to come – article still being updated

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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