The Regina Cyclone of 1912 damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in the city, including several churches.

The Register Archive: Regina Cyclone brings church to its knees

  • June 25, 2018

On June 30, 1912, a tornado dubbed the Regina Cyclone swept through the city and became the deadliest in Canadian history, killing 28 people. Much of the city was damaged or destroyed, prompting a front-page plea to The Register’s readers in the July 11, 1912 edition from a priest who experienced the storm first-hand:

We have just received this heart-rending letter from good Fr. Mollier, well known here in Toronto and pastor of a Saskatchewan mission in which Mr. A.A. Hirst built the church, and gave the altar and statues in memory of his dear dead daughter Margaret. Fr. Mollier is a true missionary, and we mistake much if his old friend and many others will not assist him in his dire necessity. We print his letter here — as it is written. It is the most important article in this number. All should help him. We shall guarantee him help by mail, and you will send your contributions in here promptly. God will reward you.

Very Rev. and Dear Father Burke:

It is with tears in the eyes that I write you today. Sunday last we had the visit of His Lordship who came for the first time to visit our poor mission. Our small chapel, crowded with people, was splendidly adorned. On that bright Sunday morning, amidst such impressive ceremonies, little did I dream that today I would have to write you the pitiful tale that follows.

On Thursday evening, that is last night, I was come just back from Exany, where I had accompanied His Lordship, who was going back to Prince Albert to take a few days of rest after the long and tiresome journey to St. Marguerite.

During the whole day the heat had been almost unbearable. In the evening the wind rose and towards eight o’clock an immense tornado was seen advancing from the north towards our place. 

In a few moments the dreadful tornado had reached our poor chapel. The immense roof gave way first and was projected on the ground. Then in the interior of the church everything was in a few seconds smashed to pieces; our beautiful statue of St. Margaret, the fine little altar, the neat and decent pews, our organ, all the draperies, candlesticks, flowers, everything was broken into a thousand pieces.

Hardly was I able in the midst of the storm and the darkness to save a few vestments and my chalice, and this morning when the sun rose over this heart-rending sight I could hardly restrain the tears that blinded me. O my God! Why did You allow such a desecration of Your house? What shall we do now?

Our poor people, in spite of their goodwill, cannot do much to restore the temple of God. For three years here crops have failed and this year the heat has already destroyed half of the wheat. Many of my parishioners will have very likely to leave this ungrateful land to go elsewhere to look for their living. What shall we do?

However, the 300 Catholics that make up this parish cannot live and die without a priest or a church. As for me, I will stay at my post. I have so far lived in dire poverty. I do not care. I can live and die like my Divine Master, deprived of all this world’s comforts, but these souls entrusted to my care ought to have a home to pray to their God. And since everything is to be commenced over again, we ought to build a bigger chapel, able to accommodate them all for a few years at least. Two thousand dollars will not be too much for that end, and I have not a cent to start with.

What shall we do? Oh dear Father! In the name of these 300 poor Catholics of St. Margaret, I call for assistance through the medium of your Society and the valuable paper.

If it is impossible for you to help us materially, oh then pray for me and ask the Almighty to give me the strength necessary to bear with courage and resignation this new cross which weighs heavily upon my young and weak shoulders.

Yours in Christ,

C.L. Mollier,

Missionary Priest

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