Friday, August 22, 2014

Beiseker History: Floods!

Flooding on Beiseker's Main Street, 1914.
Glenbow Archives
T.L. Beiseker and his group of land speculators from the United States sold the land around what is now the village of Beiseker to eager settlers wanting new farmland.

When it came down to picking a site for the new town, they looked around at the options.  They needed a site that was adjacent to the then-new Canadian Pacific Railway right-of-way, and near the proposed Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (now, CN) right-of-way.  It had to be reasonably flat and preferably not saleable as farmland.

They chose here!  The site where the village now sits was a lowland, with small sloughs and wetlands.  It dried up every year, but it was sometimes too late to seed a crop.

Fill was brought in, buildings were constructed and the village grew. 

Unfortunately, the two railways interrupted the natural flow of water through the area, and on heavy run-off years (or after big storms) Beiseker always flooded.  There was many years where Main Street flooded.  In fact, there was a year when over a metre of water flooded Main Street in front of the King George Hotel, where the hardware store is today.

There is an myth of an unfortunate individual who staggered drunk out of the King George Hotel tavern, fell in the water and drowned, right there on Main Street.  I have yet to find any facts to back up this story.

In the 1950s, with the help of provincial funding, a drainage channel was built around Beiseker, just south of town.  That solved the severe flooding problems.  Because most of downtown Beiseker was built on a flat lowland, there are still some small problems with water pooling even today.  Practically every direction out of downtown Beiseker is uphill.  The only good flowing water channel is that one built over 60 years ago.  

Now that system is being burdened by water coming into Beiseker from Rocky View County lands, north of town.  If I had a chance to go back in time and talk to Mr. Beiseker, I'd advise him to build his town on higher ground!  

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