The two massive floods that hit Brampton in the late 1940s


Published February 16, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Brampton has seen its fair share of floods throughout the years, but two of the most notable incidents occurred very close to each other.

The worst flood in the city’s history happened in March 1948, when the Etobicoke Creek flowed through downtown Brampton.

The Georgetown Herald called it “Brampton’s Worst Flood in History” the day after it happened, and even the Globe and Mail reported on the devastating flood when the Etobicoke Creek overflowed its banks in large part due to developments north of Brampton, where the runoff water would all come down into the channel.

It was reported that the flood caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damages and even trapped workers inside stores:


However, that wasn’t the only major flood Brampton had around that time. Almost a year later in February 1949, downtown Brampton was flooded again (pictured above), ironically while Brampton Town Council was waiting for the federal and provincial governments to approve a $400,000 diversion to help prevent flooding.

According to Region of Peel Archives, the constant flooding was a result of parts of Brampton being built literally over top of Etobicoke Creek — useful when the town was just a small village, but soon became a problem as the downtown area urbanized.

As reported by the Globe and Mail, “Brampton police ran from door to door early yesterday warning merchants that they might expect a repeat performance of the flood that caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to Main St. business men last [year]. Storekeepers began moving merchandise from cellars and prepared to place barriers before display windows.”

While the 1949 flood was fortunately minor in comparison to the flood the year prior, it served as a reminder of how constant flooding used to be an issue for Brampton. According to Brampton Historical Society Executive Steve Collie, downtown Brampton at the time was expected to have a major flood once every ten years or so.

The 1948 flood triggered the ambitious civil engineering project to channelize and divert the Creek away from the downtown, the construction of which began in 1950, according to the city.

The project costed $1 million, three quarters of which was provided by the Province of Ontario and the remainder paid for by the Town of Brampton.

It was officially completed 1952, just in time for Hurricane Hazel to hit Ontario in 1954.

Photo and video courtesy of PAMA/Region of Peel Archives

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