Manitoba has an abundant supply of surface water with many large lakes and thousands of smaller ones (chapter 2). However, much of the water is in the north or drains to the north where there is a sparse population. In the south dams and reservoirs have been constructed to conserve water in some areas, whereas in other places projects were designed to drain water from the land to make it suitable for cultivation. The province’s rivers offered enormous potential for hydroelectric power, much of which has now been exploited, starting with a small-scale project on the Little Saskatchewan River and progressing to large projects on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Nelson rivers. Two thermal power stations at Brandon and Selkirk on the Assiniboine and Red rivers illustrate the need for an assurred water supply. Flooding has been a problem since the earliest days of the province, especially along the Assiniboine and Red rivers culminating in the 1997 “Flood of the Century” in the Red River Valley. Dams, diversions and ring dikes are used to divert the floodwaters to less critical areas.
Under natural conditions the Red River Plain, the floor of Glacial Lake Agassiz, was a vast expanse of marshy land, but in the early part of the 20th century it was converted into a rich agricultural area by drainage of the marshes. This was accomplished by constructing a network of artificial drainage channels and straightening some of the natural creeks. Shown here, just east of Miami, is a small eastward-flowing creek 1. Two small creeks enter it from the north 2 and east 3. The main creek has been straightened by cutting across bends and meanders 4 and confining it between well-defined banks. In mid summer when the photo was taken, it carried virtually no water—water can be seen only in the extreme east 5.
Cutting across the centre of the area is PTH 23 6 with a ditch separating it from the CN railway 7 to the north. Small bridges across the ditch 8 and level crossings over the rail line provide access to farms to the north. Also of note on this photo are irregular dark-toned lines 9 which are minor grooves that may have been gouged by icebergs in Lake Agassiz. Note also shelterbelts around farms 10 in this flat windswept area.
Vertical air photograph: A16183-90
Flight height: 10,050 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.4 mm
Scale: 1:18,600 (approx.)
Date: July 22, 1958
Location: Township 5; Range 6WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon
1:50,000 62G/8 Miami