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Unseen footage of 1985 tornado hits big screen Wednesday (9 photos)

'What’s remarkable is only eight people were killed. It should have been far worse'

A man who says he had a front-row seat as the tornado swept through Barrie 32 years ago is giving new residents and long-time residents alike a chance to see previously-unseen footage of the 1985 tornado.

Travis Doucette, chairman of the Barrie Historical Archive, said the online organization will share more images and memories from the legendary tornado as it screens unseen footage from CKVR news crews at a special event at the Uptown Theater Wednesday night.

Tornado Tales will hit the big screen at 8:15 and 9:30 p.m., with Kevin Frankish (now a Breakfast Television host) and cameraman Steve Miller sharing their memories of being first on the scene. Miller will also share footage of the aftermath, video that never made it to air.

“Most people, especially those new to Barrie, don’t understand the severity of what happened on May 31, 1985 at 4:45 p.m. It was one of the worst natural disasters, apart from Hurricane Hazel, in southern Ontario in the 20th Century.

“Although I was only three, we had a front-row seat to the damage living on Cumberland St. and it’s forever etched in my mind,” Doucette said.

“What’s remarkable is only eight people were killed. It should have been far worse. Most importantly, our focus as we approach this sensitive topic is telling the story on how our community came together to love each other and rebuild Allandale and Tollendale in a matter of months.”

The evening event, which is free but which has limited seating, will also give people an opportunity to remember those who died.

Doucette noted the F4 tornado, which had winds as high as 418 km/h, leveled 600 homes and 200 businesses.

“The original unedited footage we’re screening immediately after the tornado hit that Steve Miller filmed for CKVR on his first day of work is very fascinating,” said Doucette.

“Also, the original newscast that aired the day after – power was out Friday night so there was no newscast – is fascinating, as you can tell people were still coming to grips with what happened.”

To reserve a ticket, go here.