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CTV News Barrie | Remembering the Tornado




On May 31, 1985, 14 tornadoes swept across the region, leaving a trail of destruction and devastation.

The most powerful tornado touched down in Barrie that day, with winds topping 400 km/ h. 

By the end of it all, Environment Canada says 14 tornadoes struck central Ontario over six-hours.

The first tornado, an F2, touched down briefly in Hopeness in the middle of the Bruce Peninsula at 3 p.m. Just over an hour later, another F2 touched down in Hopeville, just northwest of Shelburne.

 Then at 4:15 p.m., a deadly F4 tornado with winds between 330 km/h and 410 km/h hit Grand Valley. At exactly the same time, an F-3 tornado hit Alma, just northwest of Fergus.

Within minutes, another F3 tornado touched down in Corbetton, northwest of Melancthon. At 4:50 p.m., an F-2 tornado touched down in Lisle, just west of Base Borden. Seven minutes later, there was another touchdown, this one an F1 just a little farther east.

At 5 p.m., a powerful F4 tornado hit Barrie, touching down in an industrial area, rolling across Highway 400 and up into neighbourhoods before blowing out over Kempenfelt Bay.

An F2 swept through Wagner Lake in Uxbridge, another in the Village of Reaboro southeast of Lindsay just after 6 p.m. Twenty minutes later, south of that in Ida, another one struck – at the same time, the storm formed another F2 tornado further east at Rice Lake.

Another F2 hit just after 6:30 p.m. a little further east at Minto, north of Trenton. The final tornado that day was recorded at 8:10 p.m. at Grippen Lake, northeast of Kingston.

In all, 12 people were killed, including eight in Barrie, two people in Grand Valley, and two people in Tottenham. More than 150 people were injured, a thousand buildings were destroyed or damaged, and lives were changed forever. 

It was one of the worst tornadoes to ever hit central Ontario, and, in fact, there hasn’t been a tornado as strong as the ones that hit Barrie and Grand Valley since that day. 


Somber anniversary: 32 years since tornadoes touched down

On the 32nd anniversary, Barrie residents who lived through the 1985 tornado share their tragic stories.