Floods in Campbell River, Past and Present

In recent weeks, the combination of heavy rainfall, high tides and snowmelt has created fears that we might see flooding, particularly in the Campbellton area, although Oyster River and Oyster Bay have been hard hit in the past too.  Just three years ago, a wild storm with high waves caused hydro outages and flooding across the Island Highway at Oyster Bay, closing off the road.  While we can still experience some level of flooding, we will likely never see the high levels reached in the past, before BC Hydro harnessed some of the power of the Campbell River.

Before the John Hart Dam was built, areas beside the raging Campbell River could be particularly hard hit by high tides and the rising waters of the river.  In 1935 (see photo) and 1939, significant flooding occurred in the Campbellton Flats after snow from a heavy snowfall melted.  During the 1939 flood, waters reached the second step of the Quinsam Hotel, and an 80 ft cedar tree rushing down the river almost destroyed the bridge.  That same year, there was a washout at the Oyster River and a barn had floated across the road, effectively blocking traffic.  Even after the dam was built, Campbell River experienced torrential rains in 1968 that took out two main water lines and this time, the Quinsam Bridge was wiped out.

Although this year the Seawalk was covered with debris after high tides and a recent storm, the rains abated in time to avoid flooding in Campbellton. Even with BC Hydro diverting water from the Upper Campbell into Elk Falls, the Campbell River did not overflow its banks.

If you are looking for information on any past events concerning the Campbell River area, the Archives at the Museum contains a wealth of information in the form of  newspaper clippings, photos, videos and books (some resource and some available for lending).  Our knowledgeable staff are pleased to help you find what you are looking for.  Archive hours are Tuesday to Friday 1-4pm or by appointment – 250-287-3103.



Grouse Mask by Campbell River artist Raymond Shaw of Kwakiutl heritage. This stunning mask is carved in yellow cedar with cedar bark decoration. Total dimensions including cedar accents, 20” by 12”…buy it now just in time for Christmas!

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The Campbell River Museum maintains collections and archives from Campbell River’s wide and diverse history, culture and community.  For more information about your local Campbell River Museum, call 250-287-3103 or visit www.crmuseum.ca