Historic Tragedy Remembered

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.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your inferior human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

12 thoughts on “Historic Tragedy Remembered”

  1. So ironic-winds down a building: tragic; wrecking ball downs a building: progress. Anyway, great anniversary. Regina has a super rich history…if only there could be more embrace of the Pre-70s era of our city. I’d like to know more about this Trianon Ballroom, where the Trianon Towers now stand. I’ve tried my best to research but there is so little out there about it.

  2. My parents used to party at the Trianon ballroom, as well as the La Salle. I have a vague memory of all the windows being blown out of the Simpsons building downtown by a tornado when I was a kid. Also I remember the Kresge store and various other things, back when downtown had a little more life in it than it does now. I am glad that the city has recognized “OK, we killed downtown, now what can we do about it?” and some progress is being made to make it more vibrant again.

  3. Talbot, re Trianon research: if you’ve already been to the City of Regina Archives and the Regina Plains Museum, and haven’t found much (and it wouldn’t surprise me), talk to the following for leads:

    – William Brennan at the U of R;
    – Will Chabun at the Leader-Post;
    – Ken Mitchell, who wrote a book on the history of jazz in Saskatchewan a few years back;
    – the Regina Jazz Society (there are still some older musicians in the Regina area who would have played at the Trianon, and the Jazz Society would be able to put you in touch with them).

    The problem is that there was little consistent documentation of much of Regina’s history and thus records of such places as the Trianon (a building without government, religious or mercantile significance) will be more anecdotal and personal in nature, and will require more digging.

  4. I asked my mom, who grew up here. Apparently it was past its prime by the ’50s. All she remembers is is that it was where they processed Hungarian immigrants after the Revolution and my grandmother was one of the volunteers.

  5. Did you ever get the details you were looking for regarding the Trianon?
    My grandfather ran it until he died in the 1940’s, then my father and brother looked after it until it was demolished to build the senior home.

  6. Dear Shirley:

    My parents will be celebrating their 50 th Wedding Anniversary this fall. They met at the Trianon in 1964. I am having a very difficult time trying to locate anything at all such as a pic or any other memorabilia . If you could point me in the right direction I would be so grateful . I live in Edmonton so it is difficult to look around antique shops in Regina. Thank you . Lisa Riley

  7. Hi there… Not really sure I can be of much help to Lisa Riley.. Most of the memorabilia has been given away. I just found an old matchbook cover in my drawer!!
    I tried to paste a picture into this message but the software won’t let me.!

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