The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington explained that in this earthquake, “a magnitude 7.3 shock in the Strait of Georgia (between northern Washington and Vancouver Island) caused the drowning of a person who was tossed from a boat by waves created by a landslide. Shaking was strongest in the northern part of the state, but felt over 100,000 square miles.”
Meanwhile, Natural Resources Canada says that it was “a magnitude 7.3 event that occurred at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday June 23, 1946. The epicentre was in the Forbidden Plateau area of central Vancouver Island, just to the west of the communities of Courtenay and Campbell River.” It’s also the largest earthquake to happen on Canadian land.
Here are some quotes from the Seattle Times. W.J. McMahan of the Milwaukee Railroad said this about watching the Sears building (that is, the current Starbucks headquarters building) during the quake: “The movement of the building was not very noticeable because everything else, including the ground and myself, was rocking with it. But the quake whipped the flagpole on the top of the building like a cracking whip. I thought sure it was going to snap off.”
A picture of the building and its bowed brick facing:
The Times added that “a huge crack, 20 feet in width and 80 feet long, was opened in a glacier on Big 4 Mountain in Snohomish County” because of the earthquake, which also rattled loose quite a bit of rock, bricks, and plaster at the Big 4 Inn at the base of the mountain. Because it was a Sunday, a collapsing chimney at an elementary school in Courtenay, British Columbia, killed no one, but a three-inch gap opened up between steel expansion plates on the East Slough Bridge over the east channel of Lake Washington, on the current site of the I-90 bridge. The man in the overturned boat who drowned was Daniel Fidler, who was sailing off Vancouver Island. A 69-year-old Seattleite named Jacob Kingston was said in the Times to have died from a heart attack during the earthquake, but apparently he was not registered as an official casualty.
University of Washington geologist/seismologist G.E. Goodspeed said: “This was an unusual tremblor. It lasted longer than any other we have recorded here. It had a rolling, swaying, motion. It is likely that the earth slippage occurred deep within the crust of the earth and the so-called epicenter might extend all along the coast for about 100 miles north and south, and 40 miles west of Seattle.
“Some persons say there won’t be another quake for a long time, but that was what California Chambers of Commerce contended for many years after experiencing numerous moderate shocks. Then suddenly the state had the severe Long Beach earthquake.
“The quakes are certainly getting more frequent around Seattle. If we had a better setup here we might be able to record some of the foreshocks that always occur, and there would be a possibility of find out what is happening and what might take place later.”
The Times explained that “the University’s present seismograph is about 40 years old. It was constructed by a German, installed by a Japanese and is out of date.” Goodspeed, who was certainly right in predicting frequent large earthquakes around Puget Sound in coming decades, hoped to have new seismographs installed in Seattle, Olympia, and on Tatoosh Island.
Finally, in an instance of the notion of “earthquake weather,” the Times quoted local forecaster Harry Torbitt saying: “Earthquakes have nothing to do with future weather conditions, but some persons even try to blame these shocks on us. People need not worry; the quake isn’t going to cause unusual weather like a midsummer snowstorm. People kept us busy throughout the day, calling to ask about the quake, but that isn’t our business.”