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Presbyterian Church after Cyclone, c. 1912

Knox Presbyterian Church in 1912 after cycloneAlthough the damage depicted here was quite severe, the building was repaired within a year. (The church was demolished in 1952 and the site is now the location of SaskTel’s Telecommunications Centre.)

By 1912, Regina was the capital city of one of the most populous provinces in Canada. On June 30, 1912, Mayor Peter McAra, Jr. was showing off the city to a visiting group of dignitaries from the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The group was sitting on the lawn of McAra’s Victoria Avenue home when the storm that came to be known as the Regina Cyclone struck.

The devastation was horrible: 30 dead, 200 injured and 1500 homeless in a manner of minutes, $4 million in damage and a good chunk of the city centre in ruins. The Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches were nearly destroyed and the YMCA and YWCA, Central Telephone Office and Public Library also sustained heavy damage.

After a year, the city was almost totally rebuilt, with the help of carpenters from as far away as Winnipeg. The loan required for rebuilding, however, took almost 40 years to repay to the provincial government. (For more information on the Regina Cyclone, see Regina: The First 100 Years by William Argan with Pam Cowan and Gordon W. Staseson.)