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The twister - a reprise of '85

Web posted on August 27, 2005

Last week's twister that forged a path of destruction through Centre Wellington was an awesome force of nature, but it's certainly not the only tornado to have caused devastation in the Elora-Fergus-Belwood area. A friend of The Fountain Pen who has asked that he not be identified, supplied the following pictures and story about the 1985 tornadoes that tore through the neighbourhood one warm May day.

May 31st 1985:

"At first I thought a jet was coming down in the back. I don't remember heavy rain. I went to the frosted window in the bathroom and opened it and there was a tornado in the field across our bush. I ran down to the living room (behind the window covered in black plastic in the photo above)where my mother was reading. I yelled that there was a tornado."

"She didn't absorb it until there was some incredible sound, likely the house next door(seen above)being hit. It certainly was a deafening sound. My mother grabbed me and dragged us both down the two additonal flights to the basement of the split level house. She pulled heavy blankets over us. A continuous barrage of debris sucked or thrown into the basement pelted us for what seemed like two to three minutes."

"After the tornadoes passed, we got up. My mother was concerned that we were in the eye of the storm, but soon realized it had passed. We went to find my father who was in the small shop for his manufacturing business. Out back everything was chaos and hundreds of gallons of gas and diesel fuel from our tanks were mixed with a few feet of water in the low areas. My father, it turns out, had heard the tornado. He held onto the steel bending equipment (seen in the photo above with the drive chain on it) which was bolted to the floor. He was miraculously ok, though stunned and with his legs banged up. The dog who was tied by a chain to that building was also oddly fine. The roof to that building was lifted off and landed 100 metres away on the neighbour's property. I think we drove him to the hospital right then and I don't remember much else except clean up."

The properties shown in these photos were all one mile south of Belwood and within 300 metres of each other. The house of Florence and Elwin May sustained a partial hit, but the workshop on the property was destroyed. The gray house (in the second photo above)was destroyed. Norm and Bernice Lindsay are still at the same address. The other house was owned by Bill Lindsay. It was severely damaged.

The stone home of Bill Woods and his wife, almost entriely destroyed, hit by both tornadoes.

Norm and Bernice Lindsay's daughter Denise (6-8 at the time) was on the main floor alone with her younger sister and pulled herself and her sister under the kitchen cupboards. This is probably the only reason they survived. The front wall of that house and many of the interior walls were entirely destroyed.

Don Vallery (owner) and a couple of employees were in the main office building of Highland Pines Campground when it was destroyed. They held onto a heavy oak desk and thrown around pretty severely. The campground suffered heavy damage.

The most severe damage was in Grand Valley and Barrie. My grandmother's house in Grand Valley was destroyed along with many houses, the library, church and other buildings. Norm Linsday's large garage door which was pink/mauve or something odd was never seen again. Not one strip of the odd covered metal was ever found.

Track of the May 31 1985 Tornados

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