Monday, 7 July 2014

Unprecedented Flooding?

The Flood of '35 

Uncle Frank told me a story about when he was nine years old that helps put the Manitoba Flood of 2014 in a new light for me.
He remembers that the 1930's had been dry, dry, dry.  Area farmers would have enough soil moisture right after the snow melted in the spring to plant their crops and watch them emerge but lack of rain for week after week saw the crops' growth stunted.  Hoards of grasshoppers would then move in and strip any bit of green that may have been left on the plants.  The insects would even chew and destroy the clothes hanging on the line, just to get the moisture.  The Boulton family had sent their livestock on the train to pasture elsewhere but finally things began to improve in the spring of 1935 and the pastures were coming back.  Just like it was yesterday, Uncle Frank told me the story of the day when they went to get the livestock from the train at Broomhill, 6 miles south of the farm.
It began raining on the way there but by the time they arrived at Broomhill, you couldn't see any distance ahead for pouring rain.  It was a sheet of white in all directions and must have been hard to know where you were, much like in a zero visibility snowstorm. They took shelter upstairs at Kilkenny's store and the intense rain continued all day and night until finally early the next morning it seemed to be letting up.  They no sooner got to the stable to get the horses than down it came again and they were forced to wait with the animals in the stable for a long while again until there was a break. 
They then set out to drive the animals home and he remembers seeing his older brother Edwin, Randy's dad, who would have been 15 at the time.  The horse that he was riding had to swim to cross the Stoney Creek, normally dry as a bone by that time of year.  That moment in time is as clear to him 79 years later as it ever was. 
Looking at the RM of Albert history book called Reflections of Time that was written in 1984, it confirms this incredible rain happened.  It says that there had been some good rains in 1935 and the pastures came back but then in July 1935, over thirteen (13) inches of rain ruined a great deal of crop, and relief for the people and livestock of Albert was again required.

Each generation of prairie farmers has their own trials and tribulations and the memory of those days will stay with the people who lived through them. I hope they they will share their stories with the next generation to give hope that - "This too shall pass".  

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