Monday, 23 May 2016

Reaping the Whirlwind: The Regina Tornado of 1912 part 1 of 6

Available farmland in Ontario became scarce towards the end of the 1800's. People started to move into what was then known as the Northwest Territories, setting up farms and towns as they moved west. Some of the movement came from the Canadas but immigration from other countries was also encouraged. As the western population grew, the railway followed and some of the towns became cities.

Regina reached city status on June 19, 1903. It continued to grow rapidly, promoted by its business community. Census figures for 1911 peg the population at 30,213 but growth was so rapid that the Board of Trade quoted a population figure of 40,000 by 1912. With numbers increasing exponentially, housing construction couldn't keep up but Regina boasted of public buildings more in keeping with a larger city. There was a new YMCA, YWCA and library. Overlooking Wascana Lake was the Legislative Building for Saskatchewan, known at the time as the Parliament Building, which had just been finished and already housed the government offices although the building had not yet been officially opened.

Among those attracted to the bustling young city was Harold S. Chambers. After he immigrated in 1911, he ended up working in a bank in Craik, a town in a farming area. By 1912 he was rooming at a home in the prosperous southend of Regina, at 2152 Smith Street, and working at the Union Bank on Scarth Street, an easy walk away. His prior years had been spent in large urban centres in England so he must have felt more comfortable in the city. That would change for him and many other Reginans on June 30, 1912. 

Lorne Street and Victoria Avenue 1911

 City of Regina Archives Photograph Collection, CORARPL-B-205

Bingaman, Sandra (2011) . Storm of the Century: The Regina Tornado of 1912. Regina, Saskatchewan: Canadian Plains Research Center Press

The City of Regina (1978). Regina before yesterday: a visual history 1882 to 1945. Regina, Saskatchewan.   


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