As Fraser River freshet waters recede, and the city saw some minor flooding along the Vedder River during recent rains, The Chilliwack Progress took a look back at some historical photographs of the large floods that devastated Chilliwack both in 1894 and again in 1948.
The images show aerial views of the high water in downtown Chilliwack and the Fraser River. Boys on homemade rafts can be seen in one image as a rowboat outside the front door of the Toop family house is shown in another photo. Debris is seen floating in the street in one of the historical shots, while in another the water is so high it comes right up to the base of Atchelitz Bridge.
The first major flood came in 1894.
“On June 6, 1894, the flood water reached its maximum height of 25.75 feet on the Mission gauge. The entire Chilliwack community was submerged in water and there was extensive damage to crops and livestock,” reads an article from the Chilliwack Museum and Archives. “The effect on farmers was devastating, especially since most were unable to replant that year. C.P.R lines were damaged and communication was interrupted for several days. The streets of Chilliwack became streams that were only passable by boat or raft. Boys provided ferry service for those needing to cross the streets with their homemade rafts.”
The water rose again in 1948.
“The deluge of water that rushed down the Fraser River in 1948 has yet to be surpassed,” wrote historian Sue Bryant in 2018, marking the 70 anniversary of the flood. “The statistics of that year were staggering, with more than 2,300 homes destroyed [from Chilliwack to Richmond], 16,000 people forced to evacuate and many livestock and crops lost in a time when the area relied heavily on agriculture. At its peak, the water level was measured at 7.6 metres.”
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