Monday, 5 May 2014

Alfred Ogg: Winnipeg's only fatality of the 1950 flood

Above: Broadway and Osborne May, 1950 (source)
Below: May 11, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press

On the night of May 5 - 6, 1950, the Red River broke through Winnipeg’s dike system in eight places. More failures continued in the days to come and within a week 40 per cent of the city was under water and 40,000 residents displaced from their homes. It was the largest mass evacuation in Canada's history.

Province-wide, an additional 60,000 people were displaced as the Red River and its tributaries created a lake that covered more than 600,000 square miles, or 1,555,000 square kilometres, of land.

Thousands of people lost lost their homes, jobs and businesses or had their farms and livestock wiped out. Damage estimates very. Some pegged it at $50 million, which is over $500 million in today’s dollars.

For weeks, donations of money, equipment, food, clothing and blankets arrived from places as far away as California and Britain via the Red Cross.  

Incredibly, despite all of this damage, the flood was responsible for only two deaths in Manitoba.

April 22, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press

The first was Roland Sicotte, 41, a farmer near Ste. Elizabeth, Manitoba. 

On April 21, 1950 he and his 14-year-old were trying to cross the swollen Marsh Creek that ran through their property. The boat capsized and Sicotte drowned. He left a widow and seven children ranging in age from a newborn baby to fourteen years old.


Winnipeg's only fatality was Lawson Alfred Ogg, 26, of 873 Sherburn Street

Ogg spent his days laying sandbags with fellow members of the Optimists Club. On the evening of Saturday, May 6, a handful of them were working at the home of Dr. A. V. Johnson at 357 Kingston Crescent. At around 7:00 p.m. the dike behind the home breached and swept two men into the basement of the house. Ogg didn't make it out.

Two days later, divers recovered his body and on Wednesday May 10, 1950 he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

May 22, 1950, LIFE Magazine (Source)

Ogg was born in Winnipeg, the only child of Gregor and Susan Ogg. The couple moved to the house on Sherburn Street when Lawson was an infant. He attended Greenway School, General Wolfe School and Daniel McIntyre Collegiate, then it was on to University of Manitoba to study accounting.

World War II interrupted his studies. He went overseas with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. Upon his return it was back to school, graduating as a chartered accountant in 1949. Having articled with a large firm, he decided instead to go out on his own later that year, creating L. A. Ogg and Company.

Ogg was a sportsman. While at U of M he played for the faculty hockey team and played lacrosse for the West End Orioles.

April 22, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press

The only U.S. casualty that I could find related to the 1950 flood was Howard Bjorgaard, 27, a farmer near Argyle, Minnesota. He died when the Snake River flooded his land and he came in contact with a downed power line.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't imagine making it through WWII overseas, coming back and re-integrating into society only to die a few years later sandbagging someone's house. How tragic.

belfor said...