Two newspaper stories on the 1952 tornado that struck west of the village of Crieff, one from the Guelph Mercury and the second from the Toronto Star, are presented.
from the Guelph Mercury newspaper for Saturday July 19th 1952.
Cyclonic Storm Hits Puslinch
Homes, Barns Badly Damaged
Scores of Trees Uprooted in Surprise Crieff Twister
Not since 1933 has a storm hit this area as severely as last night’s miniature tornado in the Crieff area, 12 miles south of Guelph. Scores of trees, as in the photo on the right, were torn from the ground, roots and all, and strewn over roads and fields, and in one case over a shed.
Roads were blocked leading in and out of the district, and damage was estimated in the thousands of dollars. Hydro and telephone poles were also smashed to the ground as were field after field of crops, some ready to be harvested.
Knifing a fearsome, roaring path across the rich farmland near Crieff, a black, cone-shaped cyclone last night blasted trees, lifted roofs, overturned sheds, and damaged homes and barns on half a dozen farms. In a few minutes, the 700 foot high twister had blocked three roads, frightened a number of families and done thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Developing west of Crieff in the Puslinch area at about 6:15 p.m., the howling and inky-black spiral descended on the farms, wreaking havoc. It cut a path of destruction that ranged from 50 to 100 yards in width. Huge four-foot trees were torn up and flung about, cars were thrown 50 feet, roofs and verandas picked up bodily and crops ruined. It was no respecter of property but luckily no one was hurt.
It first seemed to appear in the swampland west of Crieff. Following a meandering path, it struck the farm of Martin Paddock on the Guelph Highway creating heavy losses. This farmer recently lost cattle in the last storm that struck the area. Then, it completely destroyed Fred Paddock’s barn, 300 yards east. Continuing for another six miles, the twister barely touched the Archie Fraser farm, missed C. J. Awde’s property, damaged that of William McCormick, severely wrecked the barns of Donald Stewart, ex-reeve of Puslinch, dispersed a wheat field of Alan Connell, and hit the farm of Russell Wyse.
Before 7:00 p.m., near Crieff, the twister suddenly lost its tail and broke up into a whirling wind. In its less than a half-hour course, it caused wide destruction. Most severely damaged were the farms of Martin Paddock, who also lost 11 cows recently when a tree was struck by lightning, William McCormick, and Donald Stewart. A number of people saw the cyclone, most of them wisely running for cover. It was vastly more destructive than a lesser one that hit the district in 1933. At that time, only trees, shingles, and some crops were damaged. This one was a monster that sucked up everything in its path.
“I happened to see it when it was about two fields away, to the west,” said Mrs. M. Paddock, who was still shaken this morning. “It was like a huge, black cylinder, coming fast. I was at the back of the house and screamed at my husband to shut the doors and hide. He was at the cow stalls, some distance away. Then it hit us, with the whole house shaking in a loud humming roar.
The twister ripped much of the roof from the main Paddock barn, from above the owner’s head. It wrenched the garage loose and sucked it up, to spread it over three fields. It pushed a large truck 20 yards and swung an auto over behind a tree. In the midst of the whirlpool of air and debris, part of the house roof was taken, while giant trees along the Guelph Highway, 100 feet away, were flattened across the road.
It was a strange scene, with the cyclone tracing an eccentric course. From an upstairs bedroom, it took one pair of curtains, leaving another. It lifted a car owned by Bob Wyse, Mrs. Paddock’s brother, but set it down right side up. It destroyed a woodshed but left most of the boards flung across the field.
Curving in a south-easterly direction, it struck at the Fred Paddock barn and demolished it. Stooked wheat was dispersed, lying in clumps in several fields. Boards and torn trees were everywhere. After 6:30 p.m., the twister moved along the first Puslinch concession road and brought down trees on both sides of the Fraser farm and the road. It upended an outhouse and removed some shingles but did little damage. It acted like an undecided kittenish demon.
Still going southeast, it descended hard on the McCormick and Stewart farms. At the former, parts of both house and barn were removed, along with crop and tree damage. Red-painted steel roofing from the McCormick’s farm was whirled through the air for a quarter of a mile and flung on the Stewart property.
A scene of nature’s wrath was evident at the Stewart farm, some three miles from the Paddock’s farm. Cutting over the field, the cyclone took another barn roof. It also lifted heavy boards from the floor of the barn, throwing some of them out through the wall like a javelin. A small shed was turned upside down and a cart chassis overturned.
Metal roof sheets were all about the farm. One shed was completely hanging up in trees. A mass of trees was down, blocking entry to the farm. One shed was completely covered by the fallen boughs. Here, the width of the twister was close to 150 yards. At the McCormick’s, the roof was taken off of one house with another remaining intact. Grace Stewart, sister of the owner of the Stewart farm was alone in the when it struck. She was terrified.
Some nearby residents knew nothing about the cyclone. “I saw something black and moving, with what appeared to be crows flying around,” said one. It was only after discussion that we decided that the “crows” weren’t birds at all but the pieces of trees, debris wheat, and roofs, which were twirling about in the deadly funnel. A second man remarked that it seemed like a “cloud airplane” and I didn’t think anymore about it.
Donald Stewart luckily has wind insurance but some of the others aren’t so lucky. It seems likely that the nearby residents and neighbours of those that were hardest hit will be pitching in to give a hand in clearing the trees and debris. It is impossible to estimate the damage loss with any accurate figure, but it is heavy. Puslinch Township will have sizeable expenses clearing roads of big trees and telephone and hydro wires.
The people of Crieff district won’t forget for many a day the twister of July 18th 1952 which caused such wanton destruction.
from the Toronto Star newspaper for Saturday July 19th 1952.
Tornado Rips Through Farming District East of Galt
Smashes Buildings, Tears up Grain Fields
Twister Hurls Buildings in Air, Rips up Crops
(Special to The Star)
Crieff, July 19th---- A cyclone that lifted buildings high into the air and then spewed them out of its funnel like matchwood, ripped grain from the fields and carried house roofs away, swept through a narrow path in this farming district 12 miles east of Galt last night. Performing the usual freaks of such twisters, it picked clothing from bedrooms and sucked them into the air, tossed an automobile 50 feet, but injured no person in its 12 mile course.
Half a dozen farms along the way were battered but only three suffered serious damage. This morning it was impossible to estimate the total damage but it was expected to amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
Bedroom exposed as part of roof ripped off by twister.
At the farm of Donald Stewart, a former reeve of Puslinch township, a metal barn roof was smashed and scattered into trees 150 yards from its original location. A smaller barn was destroyed. The Stewart farm is about four miles from the Martin Paddock farm, the first farm struck.
Damage was also done on the farm of William McCormick. Three concession roads were blocked by trees, including the road to Guelph. Alex Connell, looking out over his farmlands, saw the black funnel coming from a mile away.
The worst damage was on the farm of Martin Paddock but the family of Mr. and Mrs. Paddock and their six young sons escaped injury. Some of the lads, who had been indoors, were found after the blow had passed, hiding under their beds.
Coming at about 6:20 p.m., the twister was seen by Mrs. Paddock as she stood at the back door of the farm home. “It came like a huge black cylinder,” she said, “and I first saw it when it was two fields away. I yelled to my husband who was in the cow stalls, telling him to shut the door, but I don’t think he heard me.”
“I grabbed one of the boys and jumped back into the house and crouched against a wall. The twister shook the whole house and I thought that it would blow away. The roof was torn from two upstairs bedrooms,” Mrs. Paddock said. “Clothing was sucked up into the skies. Curtains in one room were whipped from the windows but in the other they were unharmed.”
Inside the cow shed, Mr. Paddock huddled with the frightened animals and said later that he thought that the shed would come crashing down around him.
In front of the Paddock farm a dozen huge trees at the roadside were uprooted and flung across the highway. Some were four feet thick. The roof of one barn went sailing into the air and a garage was completely destroyed. Planks were scattered about the fields. A passenger car was lifted and carried 50 feet but was put down right side up and undamaged.
Two hundred yards along the road, the barn owned by Fred Paddock was smashed to bits.
From the Connell place, the funnel went off in the direction of Russell Wyse’s farm where its tail seemed to twist loose.