Head, Clara and Maria Local History
Hurricane Audrey
Pembroke Daily Observer, July 2, 1957
Full Text
PEMBROKE, TUESDAY. JULY-2. 1957 Single Copy 5 Cents By Carrier. 25 Cents Weekly

Audrey Leaves Her Mark On Pembroke District

The Road that Was

Worst of three washout on Highway 17 between Pembroke and Mattawa occurred at Resmer Creek, where what was called a "controlled flood" to relieve pressure at Des Joachims, tore away a large culvert leaving an impassable gulley. In the top picture, guard rails are shown suspended on their safety cables across the road that was but is no more. The bottom picture is the view motorists got as they approachcd the creek A second wash-out Monday evening delayed traffic until almost midnight, and forced some motorists to spend the night in their cars.

Photos by Montaigne

Hundreds Stranded at Deux Rivieres Sunday

DEUX RIVIERES (Staff)—Hurricane Audrey's antics may have brought poverty and strife to thousands in the USA and caused considerable damage in Ontario, but the typhoon gave this little community an upsurge in business which never before has been equalled.

Situated on Highway 17, just off the Ottawa River, Deux Rivieres was the stopping off spot for hundreds of motorists who were caught by highway washouts. The caveins occurred about seven miles north of here, which is approximately 70 miles west of Pembroke.

One of the busiest men in the hamlet, which had to pull down fences to allow cars parking space, was Bill Wilson of Wilson's restaurant.


He said that he had flagged down more than 1,000 cars since the road broke. He said he watched the highway cave in Saturday; night.

"The water kept rising and I could see the guard rails slip away, leaving nothing but a big hole," he said.

First report of the break was given to the Department of Highways about 6p.m. Saturday. Within hours hundreds of cars were lined up on both sides.

The first break occurred at Resmer's creek. The break was about 100 feet long and 25 feet deep. Four miles west, another creek washed out a section of the road.

One of the most unfortunate of the stranded motorists was J. H. Rennick of North Bay. Rennick told The Observer he was going to Shawville for the long weekend when he became marooned between the two breaks.

He said he had convinced his wife and daughter that the first "soft spot" was safe, and crossed it only to run into the second washout.

"I couldn't go back or forward, farmhouse and camped for the farmhouse and camped for the duration."

Rennick remained on the farm of Julius Resmer, Mr. Resmer said he took milk to the children which were in the line-up of cars Sunday and Monday, and that he worked wtih the Department of Highways crew on the re-building area.


The lone hotel here, with a sleeping accommodation for 18 was jammed to capacity both Saturday and Sunday, and the hotel proprietor said every available cot was put to use.

The main meal for the hundreds of motorists who were caught in the traffic-jam was bacon and eggs.

One man, Albert Bruten of Bridgeport, Connecticut, bearded and sleepy-eyed, said Monday that he was getting fed up on bacon and eggs. He took the wash-out in his stride, saying that he was not in a hurry to go any place. He had been stranded since Saturday night, but was one of the first to cross the road when it was opened about 4.15 p.m.

Others did not take the situation so lightly.

Leo Desarmia of Arnprior, who slept in his station wagon along with his wife and three children, was up in arms over the way the re-construction was being handled.

He said he was on the spot Saturday night and highway men didn't start to work until 3p.m. Sunday. Then they quit when darkness set in," he said.

Foreman Stanley Bowes of Deux Rivieres refuted this statement while standing up to his hips in the swirling creek waters. He said his men were working around the clock.

Department of Highways men were keeping watch on the washed out areas throughout the night, and warning motorists to "take it easy.'

An Ottawa man, another who was forced to sleep in his car, Aurel Lacoste, a CBC television producer, said he didn't mind the cold and the bugs, but the top-heavy prices being charged by local business people cashing in on the boom, were out of this world.

"This morning one woman asked me if I wanted to buy a peanut- butter sandwich for 50 cents" he snorted. "It's not the money but the principle which irritates me," he said.

A vacant house, back of the restaurant here, was filled Sundav night when a transport driver laid out mats for the weary travellers.

Floods Block Highway 17

Hurricane Audrey, a female with a killer instinct, flipped the hem of her skirts at the Upper Ottawa Valley over the weekend, caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, created flood hazards along the Ottawa River, resulted in the death of one train man near Mattawa, and tied up traffic for miles.

The first weekend holiday of the summer was marred for would-be holidayers, but the bad weather was credited with saving the lives of many Ontario residents.

Rains, which started late Fri¬day, continued through the night, all day Saturday and Sunday, and which failed to lessen until early Monday morning, swelled the rivers and streams in this district to flooding stages.


Cottagers, and all persons with homes on the Ottawa River were warned Sunday of the conditions. The water rose an estimated five feet from Des Joachims Power Station to Britannia Beach, destroying beaches en route, isolating cabins on small islands, and thoroughly ruining the weekend for vacationers attempting to es¬cape the heat of the town.

Cottages on Cotnam as well as those on the waterfront were threatenel for hours Sunday, but the buildings escaped damage, although the water rose four feet.

In Pembroke the winds knocked down branches, scattered garbage and blew sand into the living rooms of homes, but failed to do any serious damage.

North Bay, which was seriously hit by the winds, suffered severe damage both to trees, small homes and power lines.


Highway 17, approximately 80 miles, west of Pembroke was cut off when the rain-swollen waters of the Ottawa washed away three sections and seriously threatened two other parts of the road.

Cars were lined up for nearly one mile on the eastern side of the washout Monday afternoon. The road was washed out Saturday night about 7 p.m. and not opened for traffic until 4.15 Monday afternoon.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded in the Deux Rivieres area. They slept in their cars, on mats supplied by a transport driver in a vacant house, jammed into the lone hotel with sleeping room for 18 persons, and some even slept under their vehicles.

The stranded were not caught short of food. Persons from the Wilson restaurant in Deux Rivieres fed the hundreds with the main issue being bacon and eggs.

Men of the Department of Highway started to work on the wash¬outs, all three of them, Saturday night, refilled the holes with gravel and re-inforced them with iron piping.

The first washout, which was approximately four miles west of Deux Rivieres was 100 feet long, and 25 feet deep.

The second hole was 120 feet long and 12 feet deep. Highway men said the third break in the pavement was only on one side and that one-way traffic could be funnelled through.

Foreman Stan Bowes, Deux Rivieres, of the Department of High¬ways said his men had been work¬ing around the clock. They received the re-inforcing pipe from Pembroke and North Bay.


Rumours circulating around Pembroke concerning the erection of Bailey Bridges were without foundation, although no one in the Deux Rivieres area would refute the possibility the Department was considering such a move.

Continued rains and rising waters in the Ottawa River necessiated opening the Hydro dam at Rap¬ides des Joachims in order to relieve the pressure and this resulted in raising the water level at Pembroke and along the shores for miles. Cottages built close to the shore were threatened by the rising water, but little or no dam¬age has been reported.

On Allumette Island directly opposite Pembroke, the water came close to the doors of cottages and several cottages on the south shore of the river were also threatened.

One of the oddest things reported was at Golden Lake, where a large number of fish were blown out of the lake and were found stranded in piles of sawdust.

Highway 60 through Algonquin Park was closed for a time because of washouts. Traffic was re¬stored Sunday and it was possible to use the highway to re-route traffic between Pembroke and North Bay across the Park and up Highway 11.

Media Type
Item Type
Hurricane Audrey passed through the Laurentian Valley as a tropical storm on Saturday June 29th 1957, raising the water levels of the Ottawa River and nearby creeks and rivers. Three sections of Highway 17 were washed out between Pembroke and Mattawa, stranding hundreds of motorists.
"Hurricane Audrey, a female with a killer instinct, flipped the hem of her skirts at the Upper Ottawa Valley over the weekend,"
Date of Original
July 2, 1957
Date Of Event
June 29, 1957
Loretta Boissonneault
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.25012 Longitude: -78.28284
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Copyright Date
Copyright Holder
Pembroke Daily Observer
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Pembroke Daily Observer
186 Alexander St. Pembroke, K8A 4L9
Telephone: (613) 732-3691 Fax: (613) 732-2226 website: http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/

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Hurricane Audrey

Hurricane Audrey passed through the Laurentian Valley as a tropical storm on Saturday June 29th 1957, raising the water levels of the Ottawa River and nearby creeks and rivers. Three sections of Highway 17 were washed out between Pembroke and Mattawa, stranding hundreds of motorists.