River flooding part of Hope history

The first flood on record that affected the area occurred in 1894

This Tom Berry Road home was one of 10 that flooded when the Fraser River rose to a record height of over 10 metres in June 1972.

Kimberly Campbell and Inge Wilson

Contributors

The Hope Visitor Centre & Museum Complex usually provides a stopping point for travellers seeking information about attractions, activities and accommodation throughout our area. But this past week, visitors have also been asking about the swollen Fraser River and what flood risk it might pose to our community and the Fraser Valley.

In light of these questions about high water levels on the Fraser, museum staff have done some research to uncover what sort of impact the Fraser River floods have had on our community throughout recorded history.

The first flood on record that affected the Hope area occurred in May and June of 1894. On May 29 it was reported that several bridges north of Yale had been washed out by the high water and throughout the following weeks nearly every bridge on the old Cariboo Wagon Road would succumb to the water. The Alexandra Suspension Bridge, built in 1864, partially collapsed, but did not wash out. It remained broken, dangling over the canyon until a new steel and concrete bridge was constructed there for the highway in 1926.

Closer to Hope, those living at Katz Landing and Union Bar vacated their homes and headed for higher ground until the water receded. The Fraser peaked at Hope on June 9, 1894 with an estimated discharge of 16,990 cubic metres per second.

Just over 50 years later, in 1948, the Fraser Valley was hit by what has become known as “the most disastrous flood.” While the flood waters did not reach quite the same heights as in 1894, because of the increase in population and development on the floodplain, the damage and impact on communities was greater. While the town of Hope escaped the flood and remained largely “high and dry,” nearby areas including Flood and Laidlaw were not so lucky.

On Croft Island, several cabins belonging to Croft Island Resort had to be anchored to nearby trees to keep them on the property. Fourteen families from Herrling Island were evacuated, and 35 families from Laidlaw were forced to take themselves and their livestock, including cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens, to higher ground at the Restmore Lodge, just west of Hunter Creek. Cliff Murphy, who had just turned eight years old, recalls his older brothers leaving for work at 6 a.m. and discovering water starting to “trickle through the field and come across the road” so they “went around honking the horn to notify everybody that the river was coming over” and by 8 a.m. the river had come right through and was filling up the Murphy’s back field. When the flood waters receded and the Murphy’s returned home they were greeted with “sand and mud all over the place…and of course mosquitoes like you wouldn’t believe!”

In Laidlaw over 1,000 acres of farmland were submerged but, as Virginia Nash recalls, within the town of Hope “the mouth of the Coquihalla could have been flooded but hardly anybody lived there” so no homes were affected. All in all, the 1948 flood waters reached an all-time recorded high of 10.973 meters with a discharge of 15,200 cubic metres per second on May 31, 1948.

In 1972, the Fraser River again experienced record flood waters – the second highest in recorded times with a discharge of 12,900 cubic metres per second and a maximum height of 10.141 meters at Hope on June 16. Wardle Street and part of Seventh Avenue were submerged, and on Tom Berry Road 10 houses were flooded and families were forced to evacuate their properties. Pumps were brought in to remove water and residents were able to return home after approximately a week.

Despite being surrounded on three sides by water, Hope has repeatedly escaped the massive battering that Fraser River floods have wrought on the rest of the Fraser Valley.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

Final numbers won't be known for weeks, but turnout was down across the board in the Fraser Valley and B.C.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
Election turnout down across Fraser Valley and B.C.

Even after thousands of mail-in ballots counted, turnout is likely to fall below 50% in many ridings

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

(from l) Fraser-Nicola candidates Jonah Timms (BC Green Party), Jackie Tegart (BC Liberal Party), and Aaron Sumexheltza (BC NDP). The polls have now closed and the counting has started. (Photo credit: Submitted)
Results awaited in Fraser-Nicola as polls have now closed

Counting of advance and election day votes has begun; mail-in votes to be counted starting Nov. 6

Fraser-Nicola BC Liberal Party candidate Jackie Tegart with supporters on the Ashcroft bridge, Oct. 21, 2020. Tegart is the frontrunner in the riding after the initial vote count, with mail-in ballots to be counted starting on Nov. 6. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Liberal incumbent Jackie Tegart holds narrow lead over Aaron Sumexheltza of NDP

Initial count is complete, and mail-in ballots will determine who wins in Fraser-Nicola

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read