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Throwback 1969 – Red River Floodway construction

This film documents the construction and opening of the Red River Floodway, one of the biggest excavation projects in Canadian history.

Courtesy of Manitoba Government

One of the most significant flood protection measures in Manitoba is the Red River Floodway, which protects the City of Winnipeg. Starting in 2005, Canada and Manitoba invested $628 million to further expand the Red River Floodway.

  • The original floodway was built between 1962 and 1968 and cost $63 million.
  • At the time, excavation of the floodway channel was the second largest earth moving project in the world (second only to the Panama Canal and larger than the Suez Canal project).
  • Since 1968, it has prevented tens of billions of dollars in flood damage in Winnipeg.
  • It is often referred to as Duff’s Ditch in recognition of then-Premier Duff Roblin, who spearheaded the development of the floodway.
  • The expansion of the current floodway system (including the West Dike and channel outlet) began after the 1997 flood, to protect the City of Winnipeg from a one-in-700-year flood. It increased the floodway’s capacity – from 1700 cubic metres per second (cms) (60,000 cubic feet per second (cms) to 3964 cms (140,000 cfs).

Under low flow conditions the water level in the Red River is below the floodway channel inlet lip. Under these conditions, all of the Red River flow passes through Winnipeg.