A year ago, in the summer of 2011, the Souris River wreaked havoc on the little town that bears its name (Souris means ‘mouse’ in French) leaving its valley and many amenities in ruins, including the town’s main tourist draw, the swinging bridge, a historic achievement but a small nightmare for people with height and balance issues.
This year plans have been set to rebuild the historic swinging bridge: footings in by the fall and cabled spanning completed when the river freezes. It’s good news for the beleaguered little town.
In my August 9, 2012 video report find out what’s up with Souris’ free-range peacock community and know, just know in your heart, that the Sowden Castle, now Hillcrest Museum, is filled with provocative and precious relics that resonate from all our pale-face pasts as the ancestors ventured onto the broad western frontier. Feel the wind burning your face, squint at the unbelievable brightness of the sun (sans chem trails) and feel the deep down sacredness of your own flesh, your own moment. To watch my video update on the swinging bridge, peacocks and peahens (say it out loud) and the Sowden Castle click the pic of the peahens (say it out loud again, go on, you want to) below.
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.
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.
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