Fonds MSS 60 (A1990-063) - Red River Floodway Collection

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Red River Floodway Collection

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  • Moving images

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CA UMASC MSS 60 (A1990-063)

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0.8 m of textual records, 511 photographs, 5 video reels.

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Administrative history

In 1950, Winnipeg experienced one of the last major floods from the Red River. With 103,000 cubic feet per second of water flow and 30.2 feet above the city datum during the flood, the Government of Canada decided to investigate flood prevention measures for the Red and Assiniboine River basins. On average, the City of Winnipeg could expect floods equal to, or surpassing, the flood of 1950 every thirty-six years. The Royal Commission on Flood Cost Benefit was established in 1958, and it recommended that the best form of flood prevention was the construction of the Red River Floodway.

In mid-1961, at the request of the Province of Manitoba (Department of Agriculture, Water Control and Conservation Branch), the University of Manitoba was asked to perform model studies tests of the inlet and outlet models of the Red River Floodway. After receiving the necessary grant, Marshal Gysi, engineer in charge at the University, searched for a suitable location to perform these studies and finally decided upon the basement of the new Animal Sciences Building. Under the direction of R. L. Walker, project engineer at H. G. Acres and Co. Ltd (consulting engineers in Niagara Falls), the Civil Engineering Department at the University was to test the models with the data supplied by H. G. Acres. Consequently, any changes in model design could be done only with the approval of this consulting firm.

The purpose of the outlet model was to determine if any modifications to the design were necessary in order to prevent scouring at the junction of the Floodway and the Red River or further downstream. Construction of the model began December 18, 1961, and care was taken to prevent any water leakage in the model. In order to test for sediment build-up, scouring, and flow patterns, a number of tests were conducted using different flow velocities and amounts of water. Confetti and dye (potassium permanganate) were distributed in the water and observations were made on their flow characteristics. The final test was conducted in October 1962.

The inlet model was constructed between April 17 and May 31, 1962 and the tests consisted of four stages. Stage I, June 7-12, was concerned only with the river downstream of the control structure. The purpose of stage I was to ascertain what would happen to the river during "high-stage natural flooding." Another determination to be made was to find an artificial method of imitating floodplain roughness. Stage 2 tests, June 26 - July 2, were designed to find the location of the "transition zone and bordering dykes" which would provide suitable "approach conditions" and weaken the effects of scouring. The third stage of tests occurred August 20-22. There were four designs to the diversion canals. One canal would bypass the water flow of the Red River around the control devices during construction, and stage 3 was to determine which canal model would be the most efficient. The final stage on the inlet model was to find the "rip-rap requirements" upstream and downstream of the control structure. In addition, stage 4 was to provide a "rating curve" for the control structure.

Upon completion of the tests, all pertinent data was forwarded for final study to H. G. Acres and Co. in Niagara Falls. In July 1964, construction of the Red River Floodway began with the design configurations supplied by Acres. The Floodway took approximately three years to construct at an expense of about $57 million.

Chronology of Important Dates

Mid-1961. Project undertaken at the University at the request of the Province of Manitoba.

Dec. 18, 1961. Construction of outlet model begun.

Dec. 18, 1961. Construction of outlet model begun.

April 17, 1962. Construction of inlet model begun.

June 7, 1962. Start of stage 1 tests on inlet model.

Oct. 4, 1962. State 4 tests of inlet model completed.

Oct. 22, 1962. Final outlet model test.

July 11, 1964. Construction of Floodway begins.

Custodial history

The Red River Floodway Collection came to University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections from the Faculty of Engineering Library at the University of Manitoba.

Scope and content

This collection presents the University's role in the design and testing of the inlet and outlet models for the floodway. This collection contains a variety of formats, including film, photographs, correspondence, and test sheets.

For the most part, the correspondence in this collection is from R. L. Walker to Professor E. Kuiper. From January 26, 1962, to October 1, 1962, correspondence was exchanged with regard to testing procedures, ordering of supplies, staff overtime, and construction recommendations. Although a number of weekly reports were sent by Marshall Gysi (engineer in charge at the University of Manitoba) to R. L. Walker (project engineer at H. G. Acres), the collection does not include any of Mr. Gysi's copies of the reports.

The records relating to the plans and original data sheets of the Red River Floodway model designs span the period from November 1, 1961 to February 13, 1963. The construction and purpose of the inlet model are documented, as well as such information as examples of test data sheets. Also included is a data sheet containing the light and exposure information used in the photographs of the models. The material encompassing this section details the construction of the models and includes information on the rating curve, sketch, and contour plans.

Test data for the inlet and outlet models are supplied in the form of test data sheets, sketches of the models on the Red River, velocity cross-sections and photographs, extending from January 22 to October 4, 1962. The correspondence included with this section is useful because it details the testing procedures for the outlet model and all four stages of the inlet model. In addition, the results of the tests highlight this section.

The drawings in this collection depict topographical detail, inlet and outlet models in their various stages of testing, and the hydraulics laboratory at the University.

All the photographs and films were made between 1962-1963. These are black-and-white photos depicting various tests on the models. The 16mm films are also black-and-white, and show current testing and ice flow studies. They are silent films with a running time of approximately five minutes each.

The Red River Floodway Collection is a valuable source of information for researchers studying the design and construction of this flood control device. Although a number of weekly reports is missing, there is enough information to allow the researcher a clear picture of the trials and results brought by the efforts of the Civil Engineering Department. The photographs are an excellent visual source of information as well as a companion to the meticulous drawings.

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These records are organized into 4 series:
Plans and Original Data Sheets
Test Data of Inlet and Outlet Models 1962-1964

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A finding aid can be downloaded by clicking on the “Download’ link under “Finding Aid” on the right hand side of the screen.

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Finding aid created by John Burgess (1990). Encoded by Julianna Trivers (September 2002). Converted by Justin Fuhr (July 2016). Revised by N. Courrier (September 2019).

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