The Raging Avon River, the Flood of " 37" by Vince Gratton

Dam Ready to Burst. Looking north from south bank.. Pergola washed away by morning. See lower right photo.

Lake Victoria Dam Break aftermath from north bank. Boathouse and Old Post Office in background.

Flood on Erie Street below St Patrick looking South

Erie Street looking south. Bob Meldrum's father waving from beside the Avon Dairy truck. Zion Lutheran behind the CNR overpass. Photo coutesy of Bob Meldrum.

Floods from spring runoffs were common place in our early years. None were as bad as the flood that arrived in full force on April 26 1937. Our city drinking wells were overflowing with contaminated water, our taps ran brown. The waste water treatment plant overflowed sending its untreated sewage into basements, streets and the river.

Homes were flooded to their main floors rendering furnaces, heating and hydro systems useless. Coal was soaked and wood became a scare item for use in the old stoves of the time. Hydro transformers blew and large sections of Stratford were without hydro for days.

Main streets became canals, citizens wore high rubber boots and rode in small boats. The power of the water destroyed the Avon rivers main dam sending endless debris down stream. This break would send all our overflowing water downstream making even more misery for St.Marys and worse yet in London.

This final spring assault would bring about the forming of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. (UTRCA). It would take millions of dollars and many years of work for the river to be tamed and manageable in times of winter melt and major downpours. Today such an event would never see the damage that happened back then in 1937.

Erie Street. 160 Erie Street in background. Photo courtesy of Bob Meldrum...showing his grandfather , John Auld Meldrum, rowing.