Many Winnipeggers today may remember the severe flood that soaked their city in 1997, but it wasn’t the only spring when the rushing Red River wreaked havoc.

In April, May and June of 1950, for instance, rising waters displaced more than 100,000 people as one-eighth of Winnipeg was under water, according to the municipality.

At the time, the Winnipeg Free Press touted it “Canada’s Worst Flood Disaster.” To survey the damage for yourself, check out these 17 photos.

Leighton Avenue

leighton-avenue-winnipeg-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

Normally, the Red River runs right past Leighton Avenue, but the street’s proximity to the waterway led to its flooding.

Kingston Crescent

kingston-crescent-aerial-winnipeg-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

Kingston Crescent suffered the same fate.

Point Douglas

sandbag-winnipeg-flood Photo: City of Winnipeg

Some 1,200,000 sandbags were airlifted to Winnipeg to help in the flood containment effort, according to the CBC Digital Archives.

St. Vital

st-vital-winnipeg-flood Photo: City of Winnipeg

Water reached a record height of 30.2 feet in Winnipeg, according to the Red Cross, which the city called in for help.

Scotia Street

scotia-street-winnipeg-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

With water levels dangerously high, residents along Scotia Street were rescued from their waterlogged homes and ushered towards drier land.

Scotia Street

scotia-street-winnipeg Photo: Stan Milosevic

Flooding around Scotia Street began in the third week of April, according to the Manitoba Historical Society.


flooded-winnipeg Photo: Stan Milosevic

In all, the flood destroyed 10,000 homes across Winnipeg, including the district of St. Vital (above), and it damaged another 5,000 buildings, according to the province.

Manitoba Legislative Building


The Manitoba Legislative building was one structure that survived the flood.

The Forks

the-forks-winnipeg-flood Photo: City of Winnipeg

Destruction from the flood caused damages to the tune of $125.5 million at the time. Today, that would be roughly $1 billion, the province figures.


wildwood-winnipeg-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

A dike had been set up to protect the Wildwood Park community from rising water levels, but by the morning of May 6th, it failed and the area was evacuated, according to a first-hand account.


wildwood-park-suburb Photo: Stan Milosevic

Until the 1979 “Mississauga Miracle,” in which 218,000 people were cleared out of the GTA suburb after a train carrying chemicals exploded, the 1950 Winnipeg flood was the largest mass evacuation in Canadian history, with 100,000 people leaving the flooded landscape.

St. Boniface

st-boniface-winnipeg-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

A wall of sandbags protected St. Boniface Sanitorium, today a historic site, from flood waters that surrounded it.

Lombard Avenue

winnipeg-flood-row-boats Photo: Stan Milosevic

During the flood, Winnipeggers rowed boats down city streets.

University of Manitoba

university-manitoba-winnipeg-flood Photo: University of Manitoba

Boats were also an ideal mode of transport for getting around the University of Manitoba’s campus at the time.


Riverview-winnipeg-flood-1950 Photo: City of Winnipeg

Though the flood made for some dramatic scenes, it only claimed one life, Lawson Ogg. He had been trying to repair a basement pump when waters rushed in, drowning him.


riverview-winnipeg-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

The Red River was at flood levels for 51 days.

A Winnipeg Free Press front page

winnipeg-free-press-flood Photo: Stan Milosevic

Unsurprisingly, the flood resulted in dramatic coverage at the time from the Winnipeg Free Press. On the recent 66th anniversary of the flood, the local paper looked back on archival newsreel footage from the scene.

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