June 30, 1912, was a Sunday. Regina was decorated to celebrate Dominion Day the next day, but the flags hung listlessly in the still air in a temperature of 100 degrees F° (37.7 degrees C°). The sun was a crimson glare in a sullen pink sky.
Regina had made great progress since the days when it was Pile O’Bones, and was enjoying a real estate boom — business lots were selling for $35,000, and houses for $12,0000. With prosperity had come lower moral standards, and a large crowd was listening too a sermon on this subject in the Anglican Church of St. Paul‘s. It was so hot that scores of people fainted. Others tried to escape from the blistering heat by paddling canoes on man-made Wascana Lake near the Legislature. Most people were just sitting at home, sipping lemonade and fanning themselves.
At about 4:30 p.m. two grey clouds were seen racing towards each other, one from the south-east, the other from the south-west. There was a rumble of thunder. The sky began to glow an eerie green, while blue-red flashed of lightning snaked along the ground.
At 4:50 p.m., the two clouds collided with a roar just over the Legislative Building. They formed a funnel looking like a greasy ice-cream cone, the tip of the cone pointing towards the earth. It swept through the city, writhing and shrieking like 1,000 wailing banshees. Later, someone described it as being like “the black hand of the devil clutching down for us poor mortals.” It slashed a path of death six blocks wide, tearing down houses and twisting the steel girders of a building so that they looked like Taffy.
A man paddling on Wascana Lake was lifted half a mile in his canoe, and sailed through the third storey window of a building. He was killed. Another paddler flew through the air in his canoe for three-quarters of a mile, and was deposited gently in Victoria Park. He lived to tell the tale.
It was all over in five minutes, but the tornado killed 41 people and injured 300 others. Hundreds of homeless people were sheltered in Albert Public School, or in 250 tents put up by the royal Northwest Mounted Police. About 500 building were ruined with damage rising over $6 million.
Terrible. If you like more than just what I included here, I’ve lined up a few places to go to. Such as the Saskatchewan Archives, and Regina: The Early Years, as well as the Regina Tornado Legacy Group Inc.. You will find amazing photos if you do an image search on Google, and videos on YouTube. All good places to start.