1935 Slave Lake flood

Leader staff

In 1935, the Village of Slave Lake flooded so badly that the town was moved to its current location. At the time, it was on both sides of the Lesser Slave River near Lesser Slave Lake. Home Hardware and Roland On The River are now in the area.

The area on the right side of this photo is a ‘corduroy road’, says a story by Doug McLaughlin, in Pioneers of the Lakeland: A Homespun History of Slave Lake and Surrounding Communities.

“In 1935, the year of the flood, 14 miles of highway east of Slave Lake were underwater. When the water first came over the road, we laid corduroy. This consisted of 16-foot poles, eight to twelve inches in diameter, covering the soft spots.

“As the water rose each day, we laid more corduroy, until we had more than two miles at Slave Lake and east – then a big storm with west winds raised the lake a foot in one night and most of the corduroy floated away.” Eventually, vehicles had to be moved by scow.

McLaughlin worked for Alberta Department of Highways in the area. He was involved in various aspects of the flood response. He allotted Red Cross tents to house people, when every house was flooded. He drove the ‘60 Cat’ to move 42 buildings from the Old Town to the new one in the winter.

McLaughlin’s story originally appeared in Sodbusters – a history of Kinuso and the Swan River settlement.

The photo is from Pioneers and likely Sodbusters.

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