The Toronto Mirage

At midmorning August 18, 1894, citizens of Buffalo, NY saw an image of Toronto with its harbour and downtown church spires as well as a side-wheel steamer heading from Rochester to Toronto An intense temperature inversion caused straight-line light rays to curve downward over Lake Ontario, creating a "superior mirage" known as a Fata Morgana.The air over Toronto must have been perfectly layered and stable to project such clear detail 180 kilometers away.Image at right is the Toronto Mirage seen from Rochester, New York on April 16 of 1871."

Mirage Seen at Buffalo, N. Y.

Scientific American, August 18 and August 25, 1894

The people of Buffalo, N. Y., were treated to a remarkable mirage, between ten and eleven o'clock, on the morning of August 16, 1894. It was the city of Toronto with its harbor and small island to the south of the city. Toronto is fifty-six miles from Buffalo, but the church spires could be counted with the greatest ease. The mirage took in the whole breadth of lake Ontario, Charlotte, the suburbs of Rochester, being recognized as a projection east of Toronto. A side-wheel steamer could be seen traveling in a line from Charlotte to Toronto Bay. Two dark objects were at last found to be the steamers of the New York Central plying between Lewiston and Toronto. A sail-boat was also visible and disappeared suddenly. Slowly the mirage began to fade away, to the disappointment of thousands who crowded the roofs of houses and office buildings. … A close examination of the map showed the mirage did not cause the slightest distortion, the gradual rise of the city from the water being rendered perfectly. It is estimated that at least 20,000 spectators saw the novel spectacle. 1




1. Originally from Scientific American, August 25, 1894, quoted in Miscellaneous Notes & Queries - see link above.