Here is the church. There goes the steeple.
The spire of an historic Ailsa Craig church was blown off late Sept. 12 during an intense thunderstorm that caused a swatch of mild destruction across Southwestern Ontario.
“It does certainly look like it could have been a tornado,” said Ailsa Craig resident Barb Morrissey, who lives two doors east of Trinity Chapel, owned by the North Middlesex Historical Society. It uses the now-topless structure as a meeting hall and archive.
Ron Walker, the society’s assistant curator, estimates the damage to the building at about $85,000.
“There’s no damage (inside the church). It’s just the steeple is off,” he said. “Our big problem is going to be finding somebody that can restore (the steeple).”
Walker said he believes the topper is aluminum on the outside, with a wooden frame on the interior.
Morrissey said the northern edge of Ailsa Craig was hit harder than the southern part of the community.
Walker said the storm also toppled a number of trees. “It’s a hell of a lot of damage,” he said.
Dave Sills, head of Western University’s Northern Tornadoes Project, said one team of researchers went the next day to Parkhill and Ailsa Craig to look for evidence of a tornado, and another was dispatched to Mt. Brydges.
“We’re just doing surveys of some of the most significant damage from that storm,” Sills said. “With these kinds of storm, that are widespread storms, it’s mostly likely that the damage is downspout damage.” There is always the possibility of a quick, weak tornado among the downspout, he added.
Damage caused by the powerful thunderstorm that lashed Southwestern Ontario forced seven London-area schools to close for a day, the Thames Valley District school board said. The storm, packing lightning, high winds and driving rain, caused the schools – including North Middlesex District high school and Port Burwell elementary – to lose power.