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The 1950 Red River Flood was a devastating flood that took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on May 8, 1950. In that year, the Red River flooded the Red River Valley. Winnipeg was ill prepared for such a huge swell of water. Eight dikes gave way and flooded much of the city. Four of eleven bridges were destroyed and nearly 70,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes and businesses. There was one fatality on May 6, 1950, when Lawson Ogg was trapped in a basement where he was fixing a pump when waters rushed through the door of the house and filled the basement. The final tally in damage was over $600 million. The Red River Floodway was later constructed to divert some of the water of the Red River around the city and lower water levels within Winnipeg.

The shaded area on the map shows the extent of the flooding of the Red River and its tributaries. At the peak of the flood more than 550 square miles in the Red River Valley from Emerson to 60 miles north to Greater Winnipeg were flooded. The depth of the flood waters on the farmland was between 2 to 6 feet. The black line is the normal channel of the Red River.

River Rampant

A booklet published soon after the flood that contains a pictorial record of the 1950 flood

Download (53 pages, pdf, 22MB)

The Red River Flood of 1950

A booklet containing "a series of photographs taken along the Red River from Emerson to Winnipeg during the catastrophic flood of 1950"

Download (52 pages, pdf, 38MB)

CNR Station
CNR Yards
Rover Power Station
Louise Bridge
Winnipeg Overlooking St. Boniface
River Avenue
Notre Dame East
Lombard Street
Lombard Street
Point Douglas
River Avenue
St. John's District
Scotia Street
Scotia Street
East Kildonan
Rupertsland Avenue
Point Douglas
Crescentwood District
St. Cross Street
Evacuation of Scotia Street
Scotia Street
Crescentwood District
Smithfield Avenue
Tired flood refugees sleep off their exhaustion on cots in the gymnasium of the YMCA building in Winnipeg. The men were among hundreds evacuated from their southern Manitoba homes, currently ravaged by the flooding Red River.
Tea is served to Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman B. M. Anderson on traffic duty in Wildwood area of flooded Winnipeg. A Red Cross relief worker does the honors.
Volunteer workers atop sandbag loaded trailer being towed by Caterpillar along Main Street in Winnipeg headed for Norwood Bridge.
The evacuation train from St. Norbert to Winnipeg came to a sudden halt last night when a portion of the road bed was washed out by the flooding of the Red River. It sits between two highways here as it awaits help. Some of the flood victims have been removed when this photo was taken.
Carrying refugess from the now flood-stricken town of Emerson, Manitoba, the last train out forges ahead slowly over tracks deep in flood waters. Men ride at front testing with poles to see if the tracks ahead are not washed out.
Saving the car.
The roof's dry. So Joe Itzkow paints it while water swirls about the first floor of his home under construction in West Kildonan.
Flooded Winnipeg.
Assiniboine Avenue.
Leighton Avenue
Leighton Avenue after the flood
The dike at Wildwood was the first to crumble under the pressure of the river. Bungalows were flooded to the eaves and garages were swept away and became entangled in trees.
Flood Waters
Flood Waters
Morris residents are slowly coming back to scenes as touching as this - their furniture, clothing, and personal belongings mud-caked, soaked and ruined.
Norwood Dike
Osborne and Broadway
St. Boniface evacuees
Workmen continue to strengthen the Glenwood Crescent dike.
291 and 287 Oakwood
302 Oakwood Ave
The Big Pump from Ottawa.
Used to divert flood waters from the storm sewer system.
The Big Pump from Ottawa
The Big Pump from Ottawa
Eaton's Printing - May 1950
Eaton's Printing - May 1950
View from Eaton's Printing - May 1950
View from Eaton's Printing - May 1950
View from Eaton's Printing - May 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
Eaton's Printing on Alexander Ave. - May 15, 1950
St. Vital
St. Vital
All Saints Church
Kingston Crescent
Soldier resting from holding back the flood waters.
Police Force Evacuation
Mrs. Ruby Couch (second from left) scuffles with police who were called to enforce the Flood Control Authority's order that the private sanitorium operated by Mrs. Couch be evacuated in the face of rising water, May 13. At right, Mrs Couch's son, Allan (plaid jacket) is also in the battle.
Caught By Flood They Fled
Stranded by the rising Red River during flight from thier flooded homes, these residents of communities south of Winnipeg make futile attempts to rest in a crowded coach at the St. Norbert Station. Rescue boats later brought them to higher land.
From back of photo: "Water now covers sandbags shown at door of General Steel Wares Building."
From back of photo: "Boats are now landing about 25 feet to left of this picture."
From back of photo: "Taken from top of General Steel Wares Building looking down Victoria St. in front of G.S.W. Building."
From back of photo: "Heavy snow on Thursday May 11th. Flood level rose after this picture taken."
From back of photo: "Truck between General Steel Wares and Crane Building early in the flood."
From back of photo: "From front of General Steel Wares Building towards river. Sandbags in front of building now completely covered".
Norwood Dikes
Kingston Crescent
Elm Park Bridge
Scotia Street
St. Cross Street
East Kildonan
Rupertsland Avenue
Scotia Street
River Street and Main Street
Inkster Blvd and St. Cross Street
CNR Subway
Flooded street.
Lyndale Dike.
One of Canada Packers plants in Whittier Park in St. Boniface.
Lyndale Drive.
South of Louise Bridge.
Marion St. east of Canada Packers, facing west.
Water St. just west of off ramp of Provencher Bridge.
In front of Poulin's Exterminators.
Fishermen Aid
Two fishermen from Gimli brought their truck from Riverton, Man., to docks on the river here to pick up their fishing boat and get it past the bridges. They volunteered for Winnipeg's flood fight.
Food For Flood Workers
Red Cross girls provide food and coffee for hard working soldiers on the dikes. Sapper George Christie pours water out of his rubber boot while Lesia Stebnicky pours. At left are L/Cpl Lorne Gardiner of the R.C.E. and Marucia Kopychanski.
Bridge Approaches Sandbagged
Crews snadbag the approaches to Norwood Bridge. Note the level of the Red River, and its width, double the normal flow.
Piped to Work
Pipers of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders pipe men of the Winnipeg regiment to work on a dike. The Camerons have worked in Glenwood Crescent and on the Maryland Bridge diking.
Race With a River
Soldiers and civilian volunteers labored for weeks to heighten the dikes in the Elm Park area but the Red flood rose steadily.
Glenwood Crescent Dike
Here is part of the dike holding back flood water in Glenwood Crescent, Elmwood. Workman continue to strengthen the barricade which follows the crescent of homes.
To Save a Sanatorium
Volunteer flood workers form a human chain to carry sandbags to a dike protecting St. Boniface Sanatorium in St. Vital.
Water is up to the second storey in these homes in the Elm Park section of St. Vital. High winds dashing waves of water against the houses have added to the flood toll.
Mrs. C. Bleeks sits on a raised platform with her dog, awaiting a boat to take her from her flooded Victoria Crescent home.
Kay Vollet of 381 River St., St. Vital, carts two sandbags in a canoe to the workers in a nearby St. Vital dike.
Evacuation Forced
This photo shows how the overflowing Red and Seine Rivers cut into St. Vital residential areas, forcing the evacuation of it 20,000 residents. The ordered exodus began May 9 by truck, car, DUKW and foot. St. Vital folk were dispersed to summer resort homes, to Manitoba towns, and to relatives elsewhere.
Mayor is Flood Victim
Mayor Elswood Bole of St. Vital, who mobilized dike-builders in the Winnipeg suburb long before the Red River flood reached Winnipeg, is seen here wading through flood water from his home on Kingston Row, April 28.
This old age pensioner who lost his few possesions in the flood, typifies the plight of thousands.
Mother and two pairs of twins set out for Winnipeg Beach after their Rover Street home was flooded.
It may be weeks before this little evacuee sleeps in her own bed again.
Children and pets from flooded town and country formed part of the refugee stream.
Young girl who refused to leave her Assiniboine Avenue home is taken out by police.
Tired young evacuees on train for a beach resort near Winnipeg.
One of evacuated nursing home patients being cared for at St. John House.
Morris family forced to flee flood in horse drawn wagon evacuated to Winnipeg by train.
In a railway mail car parked near the C.P.R. station, Mrs. J. Chase receives her mail from Joyce Taylor while Ethel Stringer makes out a money order. Her Majesty's mail, though on wheels, beats the flood.
M. Houston's family, three boys, two girls (and three dogs), find temporary shelter in a rail boarding car spotted for refugees at Emerson. The Houstons moved from Sioux Lookout, Ont., in March to manage a farm near Emerson.
Haystack Haven in Flood
Horses are stranded on a haystack in "Lake Morris", the vast expanse of flood water stretching across the Red at Morris for more than 20 miles.
A St. Norbert family loads a piano in to a boat while horses with a hay rack stand-by to haul other furniture to safety.
A forlorn pup, stranded by the flood at Emerson, is rescued by boat.
Morris Centre of a Lake
Air view shows Morris, centre of a vast lake which was 20 miles wide acorss the Red. In the inundation of Morris itself, several buildings stood out as landmarks above the flood - the new school (centre foreground) and a grain elevator.
A young gallant of Morris carries Lee Armstrong to safety.
Flood Heroines
For four weeks as the water rose against the Morris phone exchange, these operators stuck by their posts, in later weeks on platforms built above the flood. Then on May 11, at noon, they were ordered out and evacuated by boat to Winnipeg. From left to right, Kathleen and Margaret Krul, Alice Penner, Sophie Ptak, and Doris Watters
A farmer's tractor leads a horse to safety through the flood along Higway 75 at Letellier, 52 miles from Winnipeg. Lettellier's people stuck out the flood thanks to the dike between the railway and the road. Its population was doubled to 1,000 by district evacuees.
Young Evacuees
A little St. Boniface boy holds his dog, his sister clings to her doll, while they await for Red Cross officials to evacuate them from their flood threatened home.
In St. Norbert area Lionel Moore, one of a group of newsmen, carries eight-months-old Keith Menzies to safety.
Tourist cabins auto camp shows cabin roofs almost covered in St. Norbert.
The Red River, joined by a tributary, the La Salle River, at St. Norbert, swamped the town eight miles south of Winnipeg. This motorist edges through two feet of water on Highway 75 just south of St. Norbert Bridge.
St. Jean Baptiste
Forty-four miles south of Winnipeg at St. Jean waters swirl over a Highway 75 bridge.
St. Jean Baptiste
St. Jean residents crowd a dry part of the highway, while a DUKW leaves on a reconnaissance trip down the valley. Most of St. Jean was evacuated by a relief train.
Though flood water swirled around the ground floor of his new home under construction, Joe Itzkow, of 106 St. Anthony St., West Kildonan, knew the water would eventually go away. So he painted his roof, while waiting to get to other parts of the house.
Creek Becomes River
Around Kildonan Park in West Kildonan the Red River rose far above normal, filling an old creek bed shown in the foreground, now a sizeable stream. Residences in the area were flooded and the waters are seen skirting St. Anges Priory.
Commuters' Train, St. Boniface-Winnipeg
When bridges were closed over the Red River dividing Winnipeg and St. Boniface, C.N.R. ran a shuttle service over its railway bridge. Photo shows "commuters" coming off the C.N.R. "Rocket" at the C.N.R. station in St. Boniface - about a one mile run from C.N.R. station, Winnipeg
"Block and Tackle" Saves Car
One East Kildonan motorist beat the flood when it threatened his car. He slung ropes around it and slipped the ropes over a fork of a tree in his flooded yard. As the flood rises, he lifts the car higher by this "block and tackle." He hopes the tree won't weaken.
Deserted City
This is how Main Street, Morris, looks today after a month of steadily rising siege of flood waters. At least 30 automobiles and trucks, plus farm equipment, are submerged on what was once No. 75 Highway to Emerson. Gales sweeping tides of water have battered homes and sent some careening downstream to destruction.
Home Lost
Combined waters of the Red and Morris rivers in Morris district, lifted in a tide by high winds, washed away the home of Mrs. Henry Wiebe. She is shown here with two of her children, evacuated to Winnipeg before a new refuge was found.
Two power sub-stations on the Red were threatened. Workers haul sandbags on rafts to buttress the Mill St. power station (which serves Winnipeg's business district). A dike break flooded the plant.
Flood Water On Assiniboine
In the gale and rain on May 8, police direct traffic through flood water covering Smith at Assiniboine.
Men sandbag the Rover Ave. power station while high pressure pumps keep water moving out of the flooded basement. This plant services thousands of domestic power users in Winnipeg. Both plants were saved.
Refugee Centre At Auditorium
Volunteers of the Red Cross and other organizations work long shifts at the Winnipeg Auditorium (Red Cross's emergency headquarters). It has become an evacuation centre for about 3000.
Thousands Get Typhoid Shots
Winnipeggers queue up for typhoid inoculation at St. Joseph's hospital, one of the centres where about 50,000 have already taken this preventive action.
This is Portage Ave. West
A street car plows through a torrent of water in the Polo Park subway on Portage Ave. The backed up Assiniboine is the cause.
Legislative Building Threatened
Water from Broadway and Colony pours across to Osborne St. toward the Legislative Building. Manitoba's capitol is also threatened by the Assiniboine from the south.
Street Closed, Circus Cancelled
The Amphitheatre at Whitehall and Colony sits in a lake of flood water. It caused cancellation of the annual Shrine Circus.
Homeless Trolley Buses
The flood near the bus garage on Main St. south forced out a whole line of trolley buses. They were lined up on St. Mary's Ave. from Main St. to the Auditorium.
Well Named
Water Ave. at the approach to Provencher Bridge was appropriately named until Winnipeg built a stone ramp through it to the bridge, restoring traffic.
Emerson where the flood struck first.
No riders at this bus stop in Riverview.
Water stretches for miles from flooded St. Jean.
Air view shows McGillivray Boulevard. Flood waters in foreground, Crescentwood, River Heights in background.
Assiniboine River surges along Wellington Crescent.
Main Street Bridge south end - ambulances evacuate patients from nursing homes.
Outboard motor boat speeds at Luxton Ave. St. Cross St. corner.
Vital Rover Avenue sub-station saved preventing need for total evacuation.
Operation: Haylift
Tree top bombing with hay saves isolated herds of livestock. Hay is here loaded on the plane.
Operation: Haylift
Feed drops to stranded animals.
Navy personnel investigate floating mink pens in St. Vital.
Newsboys made their rounds - in hip waders and in boots.
Coal trucks trapped by river in Fort Rouge coal yard.
Winnipeg milk company stockpiles milk to facilitate deliveries.
Secondary dike built along Tache Avenue in St. Boniface.
King George and King Edward hospitals were evacuated as Riverview dike collapses. An aerial view.
King George and King Edward hospitals were evacuated as Riverview dike collapses.
Point Douglas was inundated and caught this abandoned auto.
Everybody helps. These boys were willing dikers.
Battling to keep Norwood Bridge open.
Kingston Crescent homes are deep in water.
Mud, machines, sandbags and manpower pile up sturdy Lyndale dike.
A Morris man shows how to beat the flood - then he fell.
A monster pump.
A bulldozer drives mud between homes to strengthen bulwark.
Water swirls around a St. Vital home.
Assiniboine River backs up onto Wellington Crescent.
Early photo from flooded Morris.
Whittier Park area in St. Boniface.
Dike breaks and 90 minutes later water streches third of a mile. View of Leighton Avenue, East Kildonan.
Army DUKW speeds through Morris with supplies for flooded Emerson.
Dobbin got through - at Norwood Bridge before the flood took over.
Biggest Pump In Town
From this giant, to the handy man's invention, pumps aided in the battle against the wild, raging torrents and insidious seeping waters. Homes, business concerns and bridges felt the shock.
As water rose in Victoria Crescent.
Boats took over on Morley Avenue.
Lombard Street.
Debris clogs the Norwood Bridge.
As the Assiniboine River reached Wellington Crescent many fine homes were surrounded by water.
Worse To Come
Morris was hard hit by April 25 but a much greater flood was on the way to this Manitoba town.
Here the great Lyndale dike still stands. This barrier turned back all attacks by the waters. Had this dike collapsed many of the homes it protected would have been engulfed in 12 feet of water.
Only one of hundreds of farm homes trapped by high waters.
Car Here
This buoy tells where the family car is parked beneth the flood waters in Riverview.
C.N. rail line is breached just south of Fort Garry letting flood find way to Red River.
Evacuation by rail from south ended when this train was stalled by flood waters.
Councillor of Morris, one of thousands of volunteer Red Cross workers, rescues lonely cat, trapped for more than a week on top of flooded greenhouse.
Flood nears roofs of Fort Garry farm homes.
Finished and 100% efficent. Vital artery stays open. Bus and cars travel on ramp to Provencher Bridge.
Volunteers by the bus load. Hundreds gather at Free Press every hour.
A solid sandbag barricade holds back the Assiniboine River near the Maryland Bridge.
Second dike thrown up in front of two houses on Glenwood Crescent after first dike fails.
Cherished Belongings Sought in Wast Kildonan
Boats ply the flooded streets looking to salvage what they can. Intersection of Inkster Boulevard (running left to right) and St. Cross Street (running top to bottom), a block north of Luxton School, which was the local emergency boat docking location, hence the concentration of boats in the photo.
Frogmen of the navy, make emergency rescues and do vital underwater work.
City engineering employees do a magnificent job in building a ramp to the Provencher Bridge.
Heigh ho, heigh ho - it's off to work we go - dike workers march off to battle the flood.
Dike serves as catwalk for workers bolstering other dikes.
Volunteer workers toil to strengthen the Lyndale dike.
Landsowne Avenue between Scotia and St. Cross streets.
Civilians and servicemen save the Mill Street sub-station.
Section of Wildwood - one of the hardest hit districts.
Clare Avenue in south-east Riverview district.
Wildwood flooded after the dikes give way.
Riverview, a district of homes and site of Winnipeg's hospitals, was evacuated when the dikes gave way.
The Red River grips the approach to Norwood Bridge. Trucks in background move cautiously.
The soaring Assiniboine River engulfs the Maryland Bridge approach threatening the link.
Sandbags pass along human chain in fight to save southern approach to Maryland Bridge.
Flood waters grip Morris.
Hip-Booted Students Rush To Sandbag Bulwarks
Five miles south of Winnipeg on the banks of the Red River, U of M students were finishing their exams when the flood struck. In the foreground of this photo is the swollen river flowing toward the right and curving left in the background. From both directions the water swirled, isolating buildings as staff and students vainly battled in the background. It is estimated damage to the university will exceed $300,000.
Evacuated from their own home - and then ordered to move again - was the fate of these two young ladies. But when "potty" their dog was going along everything was satisfactory.
Icy Rain, Snow, Plague Workers
Volunteer dike builders find show and icy rain bitter foes, but work goes on without halt in doomed Elm Park area.
Mud follows rain and sandbags must be carried nearly fifty yards.
The second vehicle is an ambulance on Eccles Street in Riverview district. Finally they were completely submerged.
Shuttle service is maintained between Winnipeg and St. Boniface as large tractors pull convoys of trucks carrying supplies and flood workers between Main Street bridgehead and Norwood Bridge.
Schoolhouse snags on Elm Park Bridge.
Rupertsland Boulevard looking towards Scotia Street in West Kildonan.
Homes Become Part of Lyndale Drive Dike
While several vital dikes in other parts of Winnipeg fell before the pressure of the river, the great Lyndale Drive dike in Norwood stood firm. Thousands of sandbags were piled into the bulwark and even into and around homes which formed part of the dike.
Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent made a personal survey of the flood and conferred with H. W. Manning, general chairman of the flood relief fund.
Whittier Park and downtown Winnipeg from the air showed plenty of water.
Even babies were inoculated against typhoid.
An R.C.A.F. helicopter was used to make daily surveys.
Morris feels the creeping flood paralysis after Emerson is over run. Everyone is moving out.
Citizens of Morris move goods and furniture and finally themselves from the path of the swelling river.
A few who stay on in Morris are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Reporters are stranded in Morris.
In Riverview streets were submerged and this store, like the homes around, surrounded by water.
Houses like this one in Elm Park are surrendered to the water's invasion when the Red River sweeps through the ramparts.
Some Dikes Held Against The River's Fury
Hundreds of homes like those behind the immense Lyndale dike are kept dry by the labor of thousands of men and use of hundreds of machines.
Navy From Two Coasts Fights City Flood
Hundreds of men from the Royal Canadian Navy, including the fabulous underwater frogmen, "sail" the flood-created lakes in Winnipeg. Sailors in DUKW amphibious vehicles here remove two iron lungs, and the patients who depend upon them for life, to safety from a flood-surrounded municipal hospital in Riverview.
Removing iron lungs from the hospital.
A Navy frogman is lowered into a manhole at Portage and Main to plug conduits and prevent flooding of city's main intersection.
Flood-Made "McGillivray Lake"
This body of water, off-shoot of a 600 square mile lake of flood water, south of the city, is kept from rolling on to Crescentwood and River Heights residential districts by a six mile sandbag barrier laid along McGillivray Boulevard toward Fort Whyte.
Water Invades Lumber Yards
Neatly piled stacks of boards in a city lumber yard are turned into rafts when the Red River spills its banks near Louise Bridge.
Rampaging River Sweeps Into Scotia Street District
Up over its banks and across the boulevards and lawns around Scoita Street in north Winnipeg, the swollen waters ran amuck. Costly homes were flooded, boats plied the tree-bordered avenues, many people were driven out. The damage was heavy.
Homes in Fort Garry, stand shoulder deep in water.
Cats and squirrels took to the trees and so did this car. The ingenious owner rigged pullies to the branches and hoisted the auto out of the torrent's way.
Transportation suffered as waters mounted. Bridges, roads and even railroads were taken over by the flood. The last train from southern Manitoba plowed along without any visible rails.
Part of Wildwood Park, one of Winnipeg's hard-hit suburbs. Here residents, most of them war veterans, fought day and night on the dikes to save their homes. Many young couples were only able to save themselves and their children before the flood waters engulfed their dwellings.
On Leighton Avenue in East Kildonan when the dike there collapsed.
At St. Germain market garden land was swpet under.
Sand-bagged ramp - the only escape route from flooded St. Vital and Norwood. This was required when the Red River backed up the normally tame and tiny Seine River and flooded Marion St.
Someone's home was swept away and lodged against the Elm Park Bridge, causing dangerous damming. Debris piled up and the flow of the river impeded. No time for salvage - keep the torrent free. Army engineers move in and in a few minutes the flood waters move on to cause further havoc downstream. In this photo army engineers place four two-pound charges of "gun-cap" in holes they have cut in the roof. The structure was blown to bits a short time later.
The "gun-cap" charges blow, the house sinks, and the river continues on its terrible course of destruction.
Here the river is marked by lines of trees. It seems to run through a large lake covering St. Norbert in the foreground and spreading far to the east of the river bed.
St. Boniface sanatorium on a dike encloded man made island.
Roofs of homes in Elm Park.
Another Elm Park house engulfed.
Ravenscourt School surrounded by flood.
Matheson Avenue as waters climbed.
Flood waters invaded cemetaries.
Buildings adrift.
Buildings adrift.
Buildings adrift.
Buildings adrift.
Vast Area Laid Waste
From across the international border the flood waters poured, hitting the gateway town of Emerson shown in this photo and badly inundating it.
Flooded homes in Elm Park.
At flood-struck St. Norbert a man climbed into a chair atop a submerged car and basked and read in the sun.
Saving those who can't save themselves.
Rushing flood-swollen Red River swirls and tears at homes in Elm Park. At its peak the current was so strong that even boats could not make contact with houses.


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