Tag Archives: flood

Spruce Woods Park Update – July 24, 2014


Reid Dickie

I took this picture of flood debris pushing against the highway sign in Spruce Woods Park on July 24, 2014.

According to the Manitoba Provincial Parks website, Spruce Woods is slowly regaining accessibility and use. Hwy #5 is open with one-lane traffic through the park.

Trails are accessible now including the Spirit Sands and the wagon rides. Marsh Lake is high and its trail is closed.

The lower Kiche Manitou campground is closed as is the interpretive centre and the access road. A detour has been set up that takes you to the upper campground and yurt area. The detour is about two miles south of the park.

Looks like Spruce Woods Park will be partially open for the summer long weekend.

Watch my 2 minute video report from the park on July 24.

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Filed under Parks, spirit sands

Hoop and Holler! Huh?

Reid Dickie

The Hoop and Holler Bend “last resort” release of water is spinning again in the heads of Manitoba’s disaster bureaucrats but it’s serious this time.

In 2011 a small cut was made in the bank of the Assiniboine to “take the pressure off the Assiniboine.” Less than 1000 cfs were released at the cut, making it more of a publicity stunt for a government facing reelection than flood mitigation.

The river is carrying more water this year than in 2011 and the bureaucrats are saying 5000 cfs will flow through the cut, quickly recreating Lord Selinger Lake on thousands of acres of planted cropland. The government thinks fiat flooding is better than uncontrolled flooding because it affirms the illusion they are in control of the situation. Nature still bats last.

This is from my May 15, 2011 post: The Hoop and Holler Bend, where the intentional breach was made, has an interesting history. Geographical Names of Manitoba says it was named for the “wild parties” held there. At one time back in pioneer days, a school sat near the site. It had an accompanying barn for the ponies and horses of students. The school was closed and moved but the barn remained and was used for barn dances and such. Often fights broke out between drunks at these dances and the neighbours could hear them “whooping and hollering,” thus the name. The barn was torn down or burned in the 1950s.

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Manitoba Flood Cams 2013

Reid Dickie

UPDATE: As of May 15 2013, the flood cams have been discontinued. There won’t be much, if any, flooding this year so show’s over, folks, nothing to see here, move along…

It’s Virtual Flood Season again in Manitoba!

The Manitoba government has added some live flood cams to their Flood Information website:

  • One webcam shows the Red River pouring into the floodway diverting the water around Winnipeg.
  • Another shows a rather odd aerial view of Morris, MB, south of Winnipeg on the Red River.
  • For awhile they had a camera at the inlet for the Portage Diversion which siphons off Assiniboine River water and sends it north to Lake Manitoba. Today (April 30) that cam has disappeared. The Portage Diversion cam shows the most contentious site of flood control in the province and, since the government likes to tightly control its flood information and spin, I’m not surprised it has disappeared.  Perhaps it will be back…
  • The fourth cam is at a bend in the Assiniboine River in Brandon looking west with an 18th Street bridge in the distance. As of today in Brandon the Assiniboine appears to be pre-breakup with lots of solid ice. Its headwaters received about six inches of new snow in the last 24 hours. Once again the Assiniboine is the river to be nervous about.

Click the vintage picture of the floodway gates to get to the 2013 flood cams.

rr floodway

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Filed under Flood, Manitobans of Note, Winnipeg

Stockton Ferry 2012 Update

Reid Dickie

Last year at this time the Assiniboine River was in full flood, threatening wide areas of Manitoba. The surging water had already taken out the infrastructure for the Stockton Ferry, a small pull ferry that spans the Assiniboine linking two gravel roads. Watch last year’s video report.

At one time there were 150 river ferries operating in Manitoba, most of them like the Stockton Ferry – able to carry one or two car/buggy passenger loads and still remain more economical than bridge building. Operating since 1887, the Stockton Ferry was the last river ferry in Manitoba. 

As you can see in the picture and my 2012 video report, the ferry is still beached. Flood damage was substantial but work is underway to reconstruct the system. No word on when the service might be operating again.


Filed under Flood, Manitoba Heritage, Roadside Attractions

Spruce Woods Park Today

Reid Dickie

Last Friday I took a drive out to Spruce Woods Park to see how the little park overwintered. Park workers have cleaned up most of the debris that cluttered the ditches. The plastic and metal grid dams that were washed away and strewn about the park have been removed. Some infill in wash-out areas, such as around the park sign and in ditches where water stood all last year, has been done. The huge pile of trees next to the bridge has been removed, likely providing the park with firewood for the next five years. The low road to the campground is still impassable and there remains plenty of evidence of the flood’s impact on the landscape. 

According to Manitoba Parks, the entire lower campground (bays 1 – 7) and all the campground buildings at Kiche Manitou in Spruce Woods were completely destroyed by the floodwaters. Currently the department is assessing damages and planning reconstruction, however, the lower campground will NOT be open for the 2012 season. The upper campground and yurts will still be available.

I stopped at the trailhead of Spirit Sands and took a few pictures. Though they never moved all last summer, the three covered wagons await their horses and a flood of tourists to carry out to the dunes. Other than the lower campground closure and most of the trail system needing repairs, the park will  operate more or less as usual this year. I’m looking forward to watching the natural changes the park will undergo this summer.

The status of several other provincial parks damaged by flooding last year remains uncertain. The department is reporting that availability of parks around Lake Manitoba inundated by high lake levels will vary. Since its campground and park infrastructure were completely destroyed, camping at St. Ambroise Park will not be offered this year. Also on the lake, Watchorn Park was damaged badly and assessments are currently underway, but it’s uncertain whether camping will be available this year. The campgrounds at Rainbow Beach and Manipogo Parks are now under repair with the intent that they’ll be open on May 11. Lundar Beach Park suffered extensive damage and, although repairs are underway, availability of camping this summer is uncertain. Slowly our parks will bounce back.

There have been changes this year in Manitoba Parks. Camping fees have increased slightly, between $1.05 and $3.15 depending on services offered. Park entry fees will be charged this year, ending three pleasant years of free park entry. Annual permits are just $30, amongst the lowest in Canada. Three-day passes are $8 and single day is $4. Permits are required after May 1 and can be purchased by mid-April at any Manitoba conservation office including campground offices, large stores like Canadian Tire and small stores that cater to fishers and hunters.

The Manitoba Provincial Parks Reservation System kicks into life tomorrow, April 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.  They should have the latest information on campground availability around the province. In Winnipeg call 948-3333, elsewhere toll-free 1-888-482-2267. Their website is manitobaparks.com

The mighty Assiniboine that caused havoc last year at this time is a much more peaceful river today as you can see. Here it’s rounding the bend at Spirit Sands trailhead. I’ll have many more reports on Spruce Woods Park and my other travels this summer on my blog. Stay tuned. Happy trails!


Filed under Accommodations, Carberry, Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit

The Party of Peacocks of Souris

Reid Dickie

Last year’s flooding of the Souris River valley displaced the party of peacocks and peahens that are a distinctive attraction in Souris, MB. Normally the peacocks live in a bird sanctuary in the valley but last summer they freely roamed the little town, enthralling people with their lush displays of tailfeathers and startling cries. They spent most of the mild winter on the lam in the town, finding shelter in various backyards. According to the Souris Plaindealer, the two dozen birds have been rounded up, corraled and relocated to a farm outside of town. When flood damages to the bird sanctuary are repaired, the birds will be returned to the valley. Watch my short video report on the peacocks of Souris which I shot at the height of last year’s flood.

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Filed under Birds, Day Tripping, Flood, Parks, Video

2012 Flood Update

Reid Dickie

A much different spring this year than last! Generally the Canadian prairies experienced a mild winter with very little snow in most areas. What snow there was is all gone; we had a thunderstorm on the last day of winter and the trees are already budding like mad. Unless we get a big blizzard, which is still quite possible between now and May, there won’t be flood threats this year. Lake Manitoba is still high and property owners around its rim are struggling to understand and access the government’s compensation package after last year’s debacle.

I plan to make my first recon trip out of the city this coming weekend which will include a visit to Spruce Woods Provincial Park to see how the little park overwintered. I’ll report on that on the weekend. As well, I’ll update the latest information on the summer outlook for Spruce Woods and the other parks flooded out last spring.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks

Flood Update: The Bridge Will Swing Again!

Reid Dickie

One of the victims of last spring’s devastating floods in Manitoba was the world renowned swinging bridge in Souris. The river of the same name that flows through the town threatened to flood the area repeatedly. Flooding was minimized by vigilance and miles of earthen dikes but, as a precaution, the swinging bridge was cut loose and captured, lest it wipe out sections of the dikes. It was recently announced that the bridge will be reconstructed.

Souris Town Council has hired Stantec Engineering to come up with the conceptual design for the reconstructed swinging bridge. The bridge has been rebuilt before, most recently in 1976. Details about the bridge and this year’s experience are on my short video called Souris Swinging Bridge Before & After.

On a related note, River Watch is an international organization of students, teachers and citizens who monitor the water quality of rivers and streams in their area. Students at Souris schools are participating in the program with a special eye on the Souris River which flows through the centre of town and ravaged the valley last spring. Find River Watch info.

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Filed under Flood, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Roadside Attractions

My Year of Being Grateful – 2011 Year-End Review

Reid Dickie

I’m calling this My Year of Being Grateful because time after time, day after day all year I found myself expressing gratitude for an aspect of my present life. Wherever I was and whatever I was doing was exactly what I wanted to be doing at that moment! I am an incredibly lucky man. Although my year began with a short hospital stay for a small physical tune-up, it improved greatly thereafter.

Reasons to be Grateful

Friends, new and old, and travel have helped me this year, providing continuous opportunities to grow and evolve while offering support and love. It is a luxury to be understood. I am enormously lucky and grateful for my friends. Their healing love comes in many forms from company in the Avenger’s passenger seat to a spontaneous breakfast to an accomplice on the Midnight Ride to a cup of coffee to a drive-by hug. From hikes along lush valleys and across the sweltering dunes of Spirit Sands to day trips exploring hidden places, sacred sites, getting a Skinner’s and doing flood recon to long trips into the SK Holyland, I have shared the miles and my experience with only wonderful people this year. Every mile was enhanced by their presence and curiosity and I appreciate that they allowed me to share my enthusiasm and intensity with them. For all the above mentioned reasons, I am grateful to Vonda, Kenny, Chris, Terry, Troy, Mark, Garcea, Mike, Marce, Steve, Mitch, Travis, Susan, Kevin, Sharon, Alex, Ernie, Marc, Cynthia, Jim, Wanda, Roman, Kenn, Liz, Mike, Brenda, Cheryl, Tillie, Robert and Mette. I felt Linda’s watchful presence, her benevolent, beautiful energy with me wherever I went.

My Blogging Life

It’s a numbers game. In the last year almost 93,000 hits have accrued to my blog, an astonishing number! It averages about 240 hits a day now, a steady and changing audience. I went seeking an audience with this blog and my other internet endeavours and I found one! Thank you for being part of readreidread.com  

The flood was the major story on my blog this year, attracting a large percentage of hits. Reporting on it was easy because it was so widespread in MB and SK. Everywhere I went, there was a flood. This is a picture of the Portage Diversion filled to the brim. The Diversion was the major cause of flooding around Lake Manitoba. The other big story, virtually exclusive to my blog, was the huge sinkhole south of Dauphin, MB. My post on June 19 about the sinkhole garnered the most daily hits of any post this year with 1561 views. The short video of the sinkhole on YouTube is the most viewed of my 125 videos now on the DickToolCo channel. The picture shows the sinkhole in July. I became a double blogger this year when I launched a blog devoted entirely to my hometown’s history. Find it at www.shoallakehistory.com 

Good Stuff Bad Stuff

Best hotels of the year: Delta Vancouver Suites (the picture was my view from 20th floor), The Convent Country Inn, Val Marie, SK and Canalta Hotel in Weyburn, SK. All offer superior accommodation, excellent amenities and good value.

Worst hotel of the year: Country Boy Motel, Coronach, SK. Humour and horror combined for a trying stay. Try not to stay there. Find out why. Coronach itself is a pleasant little town in the midst of millenia of fascinating history and pre-history.

Good Company: Enterprise Car Rental for another year of excellent service, economical rates and reliable vehicles. Over 5 months I put 23,000 km on a 2011 Avenger and encountered not one problem of any kind with the car! It deserved to be called the Mighty Avenger.

Bad Company: H & R Block for committing obvious errors on both Linda’s and my income tax and causing me months of grief. They settled. Go to a CPA.

Music: I attended three excellent concerts: The Tragically Hip at the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ ball park, k. d. lang at Regina Folk Festival and the spectacle of Prince at MTS Centre. The Avenger’s CD player was dominated by Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums. I’ll be posting about them in January.

Grieving: Linda’s toothbrush. In my post I Had a Wake-Up Call Today I admit that after 15 months I still couldn’t throw out Linda’s toothbrush. Strangely, the toothbrush became a symbol that grew in significance after I wrote the post about it. My words seemed to imbue it with a special connection to Linda, more intimate than other items she used daily. As with so many other events, things and memories, the toothbrush’s time to be reckoned with arrived. In early December I pledged I would throw out the toothbrush the day after Christmas, two years and a day after Linda died. The day and time arrived, I kissed the handle of her toothbrush, thanked it and put it in the wastebasket. Then I said to myself what I’d said the morning after Linda died two years prior: Today is the first day of the rest of my life. The meaning of this saw from the 1960s is much different today than it was in my youth, looking at it from the other end of life. It still seemed apt. Now that it is gone, the toothbrush has acquired new significance. Now it symbolizes progress, acceptance and hope, an emblem of my endurance. Truly what the toothbrush must be is yet another subtle wonderful gift from Linda. Thank you love.    

Spirit:  My gratitude extends beyond the organic realm to include the helping and loving spirit helpers and power animals who humble me with their ongoing assistance. Always and all ways, there is Spirit ashimmer with unconditional love and proper guidance. I am all gratitude. It was an extraordinary thrill for me to take several of Linda’s friends for their first hike on Spirit Sands this summer. I felt privileged to share my special experience with all of them and watch them become quickened and present as Spirit moves through them.

Particular Posts     

With a year of posts under my belt, I’ve created a month-by-month guide to my life and blog with links to some of my best writing of the year.

January: The year began with some chest pain, a few days in Health Sciences Centre followed by grateful recuperation at home. My post, called Six Days Among Angels, recounts the events in the hospital. Mid-month I posted a historical piece I’d researched and written several years before about Rooster Town, an early Winnipeg ghetto. This proved to be one of my more popular posts. The tenth anniversary of my father’s death inspired a piece simply called Dad, another popular post.

February: February 1st is Grasslands National Park Day on my blog, celebrated with three posts about the park and region. Lise Perrault, who lived in Val Marie, SK on the edge of the park, painted many scenes of GNP in an appealing folk art style that I have long admired. Prairie dogs still abound in several dogtowns in GNP so when I came across this prairie dog image I did some research and posted Prairie Dog Rapture. GNP pictures and commentary gave some local background. In mid-February I posted Weasels Ripped My Flesh about Frank Zappa’s album of the same name. This is consistently among the posts most viewed on my blog.

March: The posts I’m most satisfied with in March deal with Linda’s death and that of an old friend, heyoka and a tandem post with Chris where we ponder the big stuff. Sacred Clowns explored the role and significance of heyokas, “contraries” in tribal cultures. In my post I Had a Wake-Up Call Today, I recount the last moments of Linda’s life in language one friend described as “startlingly candid” and try to update my grieving process since that has always been one of the reasons for this blog. Wake-Up Call was difficult but cathartic to write as was my tribute to a friend Linda and I had known a long time. David Marks died in mid-March. I have fond memories of David. He was one-of-a-kind. On March 26, Chris and I tandem-blogged on the same topic: Have I found what I’m looking for? with interesting results from two different generations.

April: This was the month my traveling began with a week-long stay in Vancouver visiting old and new friends and having a ball. In April I posted two practical pieces, both dealing with some aspect of death: Obituary Euphemisms and Do You Have a Last Will and Testament?  I took my first long drive out of Winnipeg to Dauphin in late April and recount it with lots pictures in My Weekend. It was April 28 when I did my first flood report: an aerial view of Morris surrounded by water.

May: A vivid memory from my youth growing up in a little prairie town was my first hearing of Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, a post that draws some attention. I celebrated the life and influence of my mother on her deathday in early May in a post called Mom. My flood coverage began in earnest in the first week of May and continued through most of the summer. I picked up my summer horse, another mighty Avenger from Enterprise, in mid-May. It was exciting to take day trips, often with friends, to view scenes of the flood and bring back information and pictures for my posts. I’ve had many comments both on and off the blog lauding my reporting and praising my mix of fact and dry wit. And of course, May 21, 2011 was The End of the World. Remember? Didn’t notice? It was a blogger’s dream come true and, as The Rapture proceeded, I did three posts that day, each more sardonic than the last. Here’s the first, second and third post.

June: A month of many changes. The flood dominated my attention and the blog most of June with daily coverage including the Lake Manitoba Flood Protest at the Manitoba legislature. I seemed to have the exclusive on the huge sinkhole near Riding Mountain National Park and blogged several times about it. June 14 was the ninth anniversary of my heart surgery and I wrote about it in the post My Fixer-Upper. On June 19, Chris and I drove west into Saskatchewan and encountered that province’s floods in Weyburn and area. We spent a few days together, visiting sacred sites and enjoying each other’s company. I bought my camcorder on June 24 and it went with me everywhere thereafter.

July: My travels continued all over Manitoba and back to Saskatchewan in July with pictures and videos coming thick and fast. Floodwise, I visited Souris several times to see their flood preparations and the crest of the river. Several popular posts and videos ensued. Though there was little to do in Spruce Woods Park because of the flooding Assiniboine River, I spent two enjoyable days yurting there in mid-month resulting in a post called Yurting at Spruce Woods. Late in July I posted three items about my early childhood in rural Manitoba. Hayfield – A Manitoba Ghost Town explained the place’s history, My Memories of a Ghost Town described Hayfield from the point of view of a child (me) between four and eight years old, and Hebron School – 1 Room 8 Grades 30 Pupils 1 Teacher explores my early education in a reopened one-room schoolhouse until halfway through Grade Three when we moved away.

August: My third trip into Saskatchewan and the opening of Spirit Sands were August highlights. The eight-day SK trip resulted in a post called Out There It’s Summertime. Early in the month I offered a series of pictures and video of the flood damage to precious Spruce Woods Park and later in the month, once Spirit Sands opened, I took pictures and video of my hikes. I stayed in a yurt in Spruce Woods Park again in August with the resulting video. My post Journeys of the Heart, Journeys of the Soul gives a good overview of how I was feeling late in the summer as a result of my travels and their revelations. The Doll House is an art project by Heather Benning situated by the side of Hwy #2 in western MB that I reported on in August. 

September: July and August were hot and dry and the fall continued with warm, fair weather prompting more day trips and a few overnights. I wrote about one of my trips in a late September post titled Equinox Journey. Shoal Lake, MB, my hometown, provided the inspiration for a piece I’d had published in the local paper Crossroads This Week some years ago, about Art Moderne Texaco Filling Stations. Such a building remains in a prominent intersection in Shoal Lake and in Dauphin which I visit frequently.

October: The mighty Avenger returned to Mother Enterprise in mid-month but not before a few more visits to Spirit Sands, my last one on October 11. This picture shows naked trees on a late fall hike to Spirit Sands.  Two Days Out recounts a trip into the heat-broken prairie early in October. Before and after pictures of the flood, bottle buildings and wild epitaphs highlight the report.  My post called The Real Work, inspired by friend and Old Soul Chris Scholl explains some of the work of Old Souls and, on Thanksgiving Day, I offered a public service to anyone not able to find something to be thankful for called If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for today, I have a suggestion. This post resulted from a friend whining at me this very line, “It’s easy for YOU to find things to be grateful for!”

November: I sublimated my wanderlust into several dozen coffees with friends as the days grew shorter and colder. I have been celebrating people’s deathdays on my blog which caused confusion and even consternation among some readers and friends. I clarified it a bit with a post called What’s With Happy Deathday? A post called Between Shark’s Teeth and Stardust details a midnight hike on Spirit Sands during a full moon. The government notified me in November that Linda had officially ceased to exist as a taxable entity which prompted my post Death and Taxes about how many different ways we can be dead in this society.

December:  Another full coffee card this month as I spiral into the Big Day. I repost my two stories, Dancing Horse and Messenger, which commemorate Sitting Bull’s death on the anniversary – December 15, 1890. Tradition held with another 12 Days of Christmas series, this year it’s churches in rural Manitoba. You can find them all on my Churches page. And here I am at the edge of a new year feeling thankful for friends who have become family and family who are friends, for imagination, intuition and everything that happens before I think about it and for  grateful.

My luck holds out! The sun sets in an orange blur along the TCH, the rumble and groan of semis dissolve into the harvest glow. Once again the full moon rises between the old wise spruce in the autumn haze, the whir and slur of traffic on the TCH sings a lullaby to the nightbirds fitfully dozing in the cottonwoods overhead. Tranquility base, earth shine, we have seen it and been it all before.

Peace in your heart creates peace in the world. May the moments you find rare, precious and beautiful abound in your life in the new year and every year.  With love, Reid

Taken December 31, 2011


Filed under Blog Life, Family, Linda, shaman, Spirit

Cypress River Boardwalk

Reid Dickie

An hour west of Winnipeg on Hwy #2, the little village of Cypress River has developed an interesting roadside stop. Pleasant amenities are augmented by a well-built boardwalk through the wetlands that surround the small park. Helpful signage along the way explains why we need wetlands and offers local information. It’s a hot summer day. Click the pic to stroll the boardwalk.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Roadside Attractions

Manitoba Flood Aftermath

Reid Dickie

In a farmer’s field I saw an eagle tearing into the carcass of a stranded fish, just one of thousands of outwash fish delivered by flooding rivers into pools of water that evaporated, leaving them to die. Flooded ditches are now the scene of slowly dying fish, suffocating in the disappearing water.  This first picture is a flooded ditch along the Trans Canada Highway east of Portage la Prairie right next to the Assiniboine River taken in May. The second picture is the same ditch today. I saw several gasping fish slowly swimming in the shallow water last week.

At Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park I saw only one painted turtle sunning on a downed log. In past years there would be dozens of turtles in the sunshine. The Assiniboine River inundated Marsh Lake, which is an oxbow, changing the habitat of the lake substantially. It will be several years before the lake rebounds from the flood and hopefully the turtle population will survive.

Every time I passed through the Assiniboine Valley this summer I was surprised by the amount and vast distribution of flood cake, the grey rind left behind by the flooding, now cracking and broken in the late summer heat. Whole valleys are white from the stuff with little black soil in sight.

In the Assiniboine Valley along Hwy 83 south of Miniota is a recently planted arboretum known as the Assiniboine Riparian Forest. I reported on it on my Day Tripper page. The arboretum sits on the valley floor and I was concerned the river may have washed the whole thing away. I was pleasantly surprised to see little damage to the trees and pathways with just a couple of rows of trees having evidence of flooding. Overall it survived the inundation well, however, the surrounding farm land was thick and white with flood cake.

Heading into fall, Manitoba has thoroughly dried out in many places with others still covered in standing water. The next two weeks promise to be dry so more moisture will disappear from the land. We could use a thirsty spring that soaks up the excess water next year.

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Filed under Flood, Natural Places, Roadside Attractions

Best Outdoor Sex EVER – Three Videos from Marsh Lake

Reid Dickie

This is a shot from the summer of 2010 of painted turtles sunning on a fallen log at Marsh Lake. The lake looks much different this year.

Here are three short video reports from my recent travels to Spruce Woods Park.

Flood Damage

 Marsh Lake is an oxbow of the Assiniboine River and offers a pleasant picnic spot and easy hike although the trail is closed since the lake was severely flooded by the river this spring. The first video (2:33) shows the once-verdant picnic area next to Marsh Lake and the grey flood cake that covers it now.


Red Maple

Red maples are rare in Manitoba, their usual habitat is in the eastern U.S. Several of the trees grow at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park. They appear to be in full bloom but that’s not the case. Watch my short video report (00:37) on what’s going on anyway with those red maples.


Best Outdoor Sex EVER

I’m always curious what people write in the guest books at various places in my travels. Recently, at Marsh Lake, a couple of couples seemed to have excelled at one of the endless opportunities that our provincial parks offer – great outdoor sex! Watch my short video report (00:42).


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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Yurt #4 Spruce Woods Park

I’m just back from a couple of days yurting at Spruce Woods Park. Hot, hot weather – my kind of summer – and cool nights made for a pleasant and relaxing stay. Few neighbours, no sirens and a friendly firepit added to the enjoyment. As well, I hiked the nearby Spirit Sands several times. Watch my video of the accommodations at Yurt #4.


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Filed under Accommodations, Linda, Natural Places, Parks, spirit sands

Pictures of Spruce Woods Park Flooding

Reid Dickie

These are from July 14 to 16, 2011. This is the low road to the campground, flooded with washouts.

Access along the low road flooded out.

Here in the bottom of the valley the Assiniboine River is almost two miles wide.

Super sandbags couldn’t hold back the mighty Assiniboine.

At a bend in the river, the low road is completely gone.

This is the temporary park office set up to handle the sparse customers for the yurts and high campground.

These are shots of Hwy 5 on the north side of the park. Boulders and gravel piled down the middle of the highway above Marsh Lake.

Destruction caused by the surging river water.

At the entrance to Marsh Lake, the highway lies in ruins. Just past the bend on the right in the distance was where the entrance to Spirit Sands used to be. The road is gone now.

Marsh Lake – overgrown and reverting back to the wild.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Sacred Places, Spirit, spirit sands

Spruce Woods Park Flood – Video Update

Reid Dickie 

I just spent two days in Yurt #4 at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and brought back three video reports of the damage the little park sustained. It’s sad!

The main access road – Hwy #5 – is a broken highway with washouts fifteen feet deep and spanning hundreds of yards. The bridge over the Assiniboine held but serious washouts occurred on both sides of it. The prospects for doing anything other than camping or yurting at the park this year are dim. One park attendant told me there is a slim possibility Spirit Sands may be accessible before the year is out but I’m not counting on it, judging by the condition of the highway, access roads and the continuing high water levels. Although full moon night was clear and warm and would have been perfect for a midnight hike on the sands, alas I was only able to watch the moon rise and listen to the surging river from the porch of my yurt.

My first report shows the Assiniboine’s damaging effect on the park road which leads off Hwy #5 to the lower and upper campgrounds and yurt area. The road is washed out as you can see in this short video report.

The second report shows Hwy #5, closed and barricaded, and the some of the damage it sustained. This is a long shot looking from the south taken on a hot prairie morning. You can see the heat waves rising from the asphalt.

The third report shows in detail the extensive damage and washouts along Hwy #5 near Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park.

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Filed under Accommodations, Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, spirit sands

Yosemite’s Frazil Ice

Amazing earth phenomenon that occurs in many American parks each spring – frazil ice!

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Filed under Earth Phenomena, Flood, Natural Places, Roadside Attractions

Another Manitoba Sinkhole

Reid Dickie

Our engorged rivers are reshaping the Canadian landscape to the extreme this year. Water, in its eternal compulsion to conform to gravity, etches its slow-hewn language through valleys and onto flatlands. Now a new sinkhole has opened up along the Souris River in an undisclosed location near the town of Souris, Manitoba.

Similar in features to the Dauphin sinkhole, it appears calling either of these a sinkhole is a misnomer. Landslide appears to be the official explanation of the phenomena at both sites. The adjacent rivers and their abundant flows this year have eaten away enough of the banks for masses of earth to slide into the valleys. At the Dauphin site, the Vermillion River takes a sharp deep turn just below the landslide. At the Souris site, the valley wall appears to have collapsed and slid toward the river.


Filed under Earth Phenomena, Flood, Local History, Natural Places

Souris Prepares for the Flood Crest

Reid Dickie

I visited Souris on Canada Day (July 1), on Monday (July 4) and Tuesday (July 5) taking pictures and videos with my new high-definition camcorder on each visit.

All day Friday 300 trucks hauling diking material rumbled around the town of 2,000 people, trucks were filled and dispatched every thirty seconds. The sense of urgency was palpable in the race against the rising river after which the town is named, its crest expected within days. The date of the crest had changed daily causing further anxiety and uncertainty. A main focus was to protect the water treatment plant located right next to the river. If it gets flooded the town will have to be evacuated. Click the picture to watch the short video.

The distinctive and slightly frantic cry of peacocks were a plaintive counterpoint to the thundering trucks and machinery. Peacocks? Yes, Souris has a bird sanctuary next to Victoria Park which is flooded. The birds now free range around town and most everywhere you can hear their frequent cries adding an incongruent exotica to the prairie town. I’m startled by the loud piercing cry as I walk past some shrubbery with a peacock nestled in it. Click the pic to watch my short video of this fine display of male peacock plumage.

Around 1910, local architect Charles Brindle designed three stately Souris houses that are almost identical. One of the houses stands on the banks of the river and has been heavily fortified against the rising water. I write about these houses on my Houses page. In the picture you can see the roof of the house behind the treatment plant. Click the pic to see a short video of the diked house. 

Over the weekend 375 troops from CFB Shilo were called in to help finish up the diking. By Monday most of the work had been completed along the dikes. With the river level barely a foot below the bridge, stones were put in place to reenforce the foundation. This picture shows the river level slightly higher on Monday. Click picture to see my short video of Monday’s operations.

By Monday the mainstream media had figured out there’s potential for sensational catastrophe here. Click here to see my short video and comment. Another change on Monday was the world famous longest swinging bridge, a major tourist attraction for Souris, had to be cut for fear it would dislodge some of the dikes if the water swept it away. The river was within four feet of the swinging bridge when I visited on Friday. Watch my short video with before and after footage and the bridge’s history.

As I write this post the crest is passing through Souris and the dikes are holding. No major breaches have been reported and the lack of rainfall in the past few days means the crest is about two feet lower than anticipated, all of which is good news for the little town. The water will stay high in Souris for a few days.

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Souris Flood Videos

Reid Dickie

Fresh footage I shot of the preparations for the crest of Souris River in Souris, Manitoba over the weekend. More videos and the feature post to come shortly.

Brindle house under duress


The Free Ranging Peacocks of Souris 


Victoria Park under water


The media come to Souris


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Prolonged flooding in Sindh area of Pakistan has resulted in an  unexpected phenomenon.

Spiders escaped the flood water by climbing into trees and spinning gigantic webs.

Another unexpected consequence is, despite the amount of standing water, the mosquito population is low. It is believed the webs in the trees are capturing the biters. This is the silver lining in the situation since fewer mosquitos mean fewer cases of malaria in an area already devastated.

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