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Moments in Birtle History: Floods and Cyclones

Flooding on the Birdtail River was, and continues to be a common occurrence, most notably in the spring. However, a few floods have occurred in summer and fall as well. Since its creation in 1931, when a new dam was constructed to create a large swimming area, Birtle Riverside Park bears the brunt of the damage during flood years. While flooding has caused extensive damage over the years. volunteers and town employees always manage to restore the park to a place of beauty and recreation enjoyed by all.

One of the most devastating flood periods occurred in May 1947, June 1947, and April 1948. It was reported in the Birtle Eye-Witness (June 24, 1947), “the river reached a height unknown before to any present day dwellers.” The dam, bridges and roads were taken out. Families, camping in the park, needed to be evacuated as well as a few residents whose homes were impacted by the flood.

High water years and other memorable floods: 1882, 1904, 1922, 1935, 1943, 1970, 1976, 1995, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017

To see a larger image, click on the photo.

Flooding in early years


Birtle Park flood, July 1935

Flood looking southwest towards Hwy 83

Birtle Park flood, July 5, 1935

Haines bridge out, June 1947


Birdtail River in flood stage, 1947 or 1948

Newspaper articles about flooding:

Birtle Dam Goes Out, May 6, 1947 – Birtle Eye-Witness

The Birdtail Creek rose rapidly last Wednesday and by evening water was over the crest of the retaining wall with spillway and sluice gate not able to take the volume. Under the circumstances it was considered advisable to protect the main structure by opening the dam at the north end and within a few minutes the force of the water had torn a gap some 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. By morning the roadway to the park had disappeared in the churning water and thousands of tons of earth and rock were carried away. Water covered the whole of the park and up to the window opening on some of the cottages. Engineers were up to assess the damage and according to reports there are hopes for early replacement on a more permanent basis. Both CPR and Indian School are interested in maintaining the water level for their uses. Previous high water years were 1922 and 1904. In both years Assiniboine bridges were destroyed.


Cooley Home at Solsgirth, 1935


Cooley barn destroyed by cyclone, 1935

Newspaper article about the cyclone:


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