Worst Flood Since ’02

June 3, 1929

Calgary Exhibition and Stampede horse barns flooded.
Glenbow Library and Archives NA-1451-39

Once again logs were proving to be a problem on the rivers. The Ghost River Dam was threatened by loose logs that had already broken through a light rail bridge.

Bridges, including the 25th Avenue Bridge, were washed out in the heaviest rain the region had seen in decades.

With Bowness Park and St. George’s Island completely submerged between the roaring, swirling, muddy waters of the Bow River, and bridges and scores of houses menaced by the flood waters of the Elbow River, Calgary, on Monday, faced the worst flood crisis since the big flood of 1902. Calgary Daily Herald, June 3, 1929


The population of Calgary was estimated at 80,000.


The Police and Fire Departments led the way in responding to citizens affected by the flood.


The flood caused considerable damage to city infrastructure, including washing away a portion of the 25th Avenue bridge, damaging roads adjacent to the two rivers, knocking out telephone communications and damaging the gravity pipeline and the filtration plant on Williams Island, which was built the year before. Once again, a small, feeder gas pipeline supplying the city was damaged. As it was summer and demand for gas for heating was low, it had only a slight impact on the community. Men were stationed along all of the gas pipelines in case of a rupture or other emergency.

1923 25th ave. bridge broken by the force of the current 25th Ave. bridge broken by the force of the current. (Credit: The Albertan June 4, 1929)

Bowness Park and St. George’s Island were both severely flooded. At Bowness Park the two dams were washed away, the swimming pool buildings shifted, the dance hall floor was ruined and park roads eroded. On St. George’s Island the flood ruined the gardens, damaged roads and the refreshment building. A number of animals drowned in the flood, including an angora goat, a porcupine, a pheasant and a heron. Luckily, a mule deer and two muskrats escaped. Many picnic tables and benches were also carried away. The total cost of the damage to St. George’s Island, including repairs to the refreshment building, was $1,181.60 (approximately $16,000 in 2014 dollars).

Flooding along the Elbow impacted Elbow Park, the Mission District, Rideau Park, Roxboro, the CNR yards, Victoria Park and the Sunshine Auto Camp. The Exhibition grounds flooded and the adjacent river banks eroded to the point where power poles collapsed into the river. Along the Bow River, basements flooded and homes were damaged in the communities of Sunnyside, Riverdale and the Westmount districts.


Both Bowness and St. George’s Island parks were reopened to the public on June 12.


The decision was made to build the Glenmore Waterworks System to replace the long reviled gravity feed system that provided water, sometimes of questionable quality, to Calgary homes.



At peak, the Bow River flow above the confluence with the Elbow was 1320 cubic metres per second.