This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Regina Tornado that on June 30 of that year cut a mega-swath through the city from Wascana Lake north along Lorne Street through the Downtown to the Warehouse District, where it finally petered out.

At peak intensity, winds were estimated to have reached 420 k.p.h. Twenty-eight people lost their lives, another 200 were injured, several thousand were left homeless, and property damage was in the neighbourhood of $1.2 million (in 1912 dollars).

This fall, retired University of Regina English prof Sandra Bingaman published a book called Storm of the Century: The Regina Tornado of 1912 that commemorated the tragedy and the aftermath, which saw governments and individuals from across Canada send precious donations to Regina to help its citizens rebuild from the devastation.

Last Friday, a press conference was held to announce that Regina Downtown Business Improvement District, the Regina Warehouse BID and the Regina Plains Museum had partnered to create a non-profit corporation called the Regina Tornado Legacy Group.  With funds obtained from various sources, the RTLG will be commissioning a number of art works that will be installed in the area that was impacted by the tornado (that’s the remains of what’s now known as Knox-Met Church above, by the way). Plans also call for the creation of educational signage and a walking tour to shed further light on this historic event.

“We will be distributing a call for artists submissions to artists throughout Saskatchewan and Canada and determining locations for these pieces in conjunction with the City of Regina in the coming months,” Regina Downtown BID executive director Judith Veresuk said in a Jan. 6 press release. “The finished pieces will be unveiled at a special celebration the last week of 2012.”

Hopefully, the legacy we’re left with won’t just be a bunch of bad public art. The tornado was one of the defining moments in Regina’s growth and evolution as a prairie city and it would be nice to see some inspired art come out of this project.