This Week in 1935

Perfect storm causes major flooding

This Week in 1935, major flooding in lowland areas throughout the Fraser Valley is the result of a freak freeze-thaw cycle.  January was marked by prolonged cold and snowfall, followed by  temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius.  After local watercourses had frozen and snow had begun to pile into drifts around the valley, temperature reversed and was accompanied by freezing and then liquid rainfall.  Stressed waterways overflowed rapidly when secondary dykes were overtopped.  Exacerbating the problem were power lines downed by ice, which made electric pumping stations useless.

In the resulting floods bridges were washed out across the upland watersheds of the Alouette and Kanaka Creek, while 250 residents in Yennadon and Pitt Meadows required evacuation.  Similar effects were found around rivers in all parts of the valley, severing communications and transportation into early February.  In Abbotsford, the year’s tobacco crop and thousands of farm animals were lost when the historic basin of Sumas Lake refilled with flood water to depths of up to 5 metres.  Mudslides resulted in the deaths of four people.

Our archives contain no photos of the effects of this January storm, but you can view photos of flooding in Abbotsford using the The Reach Gallery Museum’s online archives.