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 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 foot cedar tree rushing down the river almost destroyed the Quinsam 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 bridge was entirely wiped out.
In recent years, Oyster Bay has experienced flooding and road closures, and the Seawalk is often covered with debris after high tides and storms. Today, to prevent flooding in Campbellton, BC Hydro diverts water from the Upper Campbell into Elk Falls so that the Campbell River does not overflow its banks.
When the rainy days of winter hit us, and the anticipation of high winds and tides, flooding will always be a concern in the Campbell River area, but let’s hope we never see Campbellton under water again.
– Danny Brown