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2. One Kid’s Story

The Regina Cyclone, June 30, 1912

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Regina was hit by a deadly funnel cloud that killed 28 and injured about 1 out of 10 people in this quiet prairie city of 10,000. 

Here is one kid’s story: “As tall tales go, it's tough to beat the one about Bruce Langton's wild canoe ride through Wascana Park. Not many people can claim to have ridden a flimsy canoe in the crest of a tornado, hurtling through the air and landing in relative safety in a park hundreds of metres away, still clutching a paddle. But it happened to Langton 80 years ago...

The funnel narrowly missed the newly completed Legislature Building, danced across Wascana Lake and began cutting a swath of destruction through Regina's downtown. Suddenly, as we watched it, it appeared to form a wedge shape and rush towards the city at a tremendous pace. It was possible, even at a distance, to hear the noise. It can best be explained as that of a heavy freight train crossing over a bridge.

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Whole neighborhoods were flattened, brick buildings collapsed and even three sturdy, stone churches were gutted by the tornado's fury. More than 60 buildings in all were destroyed or badly damaged. ‘It's quite a story, isn't it?’ says Bud Allen, a white-haired retired salesman who was seven years old on that sweltering June 30 in 1912 when the twister blew through the booming frontier town of Regina. ‘Bruce was a couple of years older than me, in the same school, and I recall he never tired of that story.’

Langton, 12 at the time, was paddling a canoe across man-made Wascana Lake near the legislature when the storm blew in. He and a friend, Philip Steele, headed for shore as fierce winds and driving rain swept across the shallow lake.They almost made it. But a few meters from shore, the water heaved and the tornado lifted the canoe high in the air and spun it like a piece of straw.

Steele was flung from the canoe and killed instantly. Langton hung on as his craft rode the wind. A few hair-raising moments later, the twister deposited the canoe -- with Langton still inside -- in a park hundreds of meters away.

When rescuers found him later, Langton was sitting stunned in the canoe, a vise-like grip on his paddle.”  (Source:  Saskatoon Star Phoenix. June 29, 1992. p. A7)