Even as the flood waters rose, the sun shone bright on May 17, 1974. Earlier rains and a decision to open reservoirs upstream had sealed downtown Galt’s fate. An already-swollen Grand River could take no more, pouring fast-flowing water over its banks toward an unsuspecting community. Miraculously, no one was killed, but hard lessons were learned in ‘the Great Flood of 1974’.
|Const. John Shuttleworth wore waders as he stood waist-deep in Cambridge on May 17, 1974. (Mike Hanley/Canadian Press)|
Pots and pans floated out the back door of George’s Chinese restaurant. Shoes of all styles and sizes bobbed around like little leather canoes, riding the rising rapids out of The Right House department store. Const. Jack Shuttleworth stood stoically at the submerged corner of Ainslie and Dickson streets.
He stared straight ahead as the Grand River washed through downtown Galt with surreal ferocity early on a blue-sky afternoon on the 17th of May. He watched the furious flow of the Great Flood of 1974. Power boats, fences and cars spun by in the waist-deep water.
The waders he borrowed from a downtown sporting goods store kept him dry. His presence let the soggy citizens of the newly created City of Cambridge — a melding of Galt, Preston and Hespeler — know the law still existed in the sunshine of the swirling mayhem.
“The whole idea was to be a deterrent,” Shuttleworth once recalled. “So nobody would be picking this stuff off.”
(via The Spec)