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Educational Resources

Lesson 6 - Water Disaster Lesson


In this lesson your students will learn about the types and causes of water disasters by studying three Canadian examples.


  1. Bookmark the SOS! Canadian Disasters website

  2. Print the Handout 6.1 Comparison Chart of Causes of Water Disasters and make copies for your students.


90 minutes (not including the extension activity which will require about 60 minutes.)



Water is not only a source of energy; it is an indispensable element of life. All life on earth depends on water to survive. The vapour of ocean currents helps maintain the planet's surface temperature within its liveable limits. Water also forms a part of almost everything on Earth. The Earth's water can also have frightening power. It can wash away lives and solid structures even alter landscapes. Over years, water can erode any surface. Life in the flood basin of rivers exists in an ongoing struggle against the river's temperament. The menacing effects of water have caused horrendous Canadian disasters.

Body of Lesson

In this lesson we will concentrate on three Canadian water disasters:

  • Newfoundland Tidal Wave 1929
  • Winnipeg Flood 1950
  • Saguenay Flood 1996

There are two major types of water disasters: tidal waves or tsunamis and floods. Identify in the case of the three Canadian examples what type they are. Compare the types and causes of these three water disasters by completing the Handout 6.1 Comparison Chart of Causes of Water Disasters.


You will find all the information you need to complete this chart by examining the SOS! Canadian Disasters website on

Other sources of information can be found on the following websites:
Canadian Disaster Database


Tudor, Carol. La base de données de PCC sur les désastres et ses caractéristiques / / Carol Tudor -- Ottawa : Protection civile Canada, c1997. -- iii, 20 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. -- ISBN 0662824172 -- AMICUS No. 17036310 Also available online at

Module 12 / Water vapour and the water cycle.

Specifically for Newfoundland Tidal Wave 1929:

CBC Archives
The Grand Banks earthquake and tsunami

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. Canadian Disaster Database.
Tsunami: Burin Peninsula NF, 1929

Ruffman, Alan. Tsunami runup mapping as an emergency preparedness planning tool: the 1929 tsunami in St. Lawrence, Newfoundland / by Alan Ruffman -- [Ottawa: Emergency Preparedness Canada], 1996, c1997. -- 2 v.; 28 cm. -- ISBN 0662258592 -- AMICUS No. 17098510. Also available online
Specifically for Winnipeg Flood 1950:

River rampant -- Winnipeg: Stovel Press [1950] -- [49] p. -- AMICUS No. 5207815
Top Ten Weather Stories Red River Flood

Specifically for Saguenay Flood 1996
The Top Ten Weather Stories of 1996 "The Saguenay Flood"

Disasters Saguenay Flood

Canada Centre for Remote Sensing. Saguenay flood 1996

In French

La Base de données du BPIEPC sur les catastrophes survenues au Canada (BCC).

Maltais, Danielle. Catastrophes en milieu rural; [ont collaboré à cet ouvrage, Anne Simard ... et al.] Éd. originale, sept. 2003. -- Chicoutimi, Québec : Éditions JCL, 2003. -- 321 p. -- AMICUS No. 28355154

Les dix principaux événements météorologiques canadiens de 1996. « Le déluge du Saguenay »


Ask your students to present their findings and to draw conclusions about the different types and causes of water disasters.

  • Is there a most important or significant cause?
  • Discuss which type is worse and why.
  • Also discuss what can be done to prevent them or at least prevent them from becoming a disaster.

Extension activity

Search for at least one example of a recent major flood and tsunami in another part of the world. Compare these with the Canadian examples we have studied. Are they caused by the same factors and to the same degree?

Assessment Opportunities

  1. Did he/she participate cooperatively in group and class discussions?

  2. Was the Handout 6.1 Comparison Chart of Causes of Water Disasters completed thoroughly with clear detailed answers?

  3. Did he/she work efficiently and cooperatively on the computer and Internet to find the required information?

  4. Has she/he demonstrated knowledge of the two types of Water Disasters? Can he/she explain the causes of each type, and why they occurred in Canada when and where they did? Has she/he suggested ways Water Disaster could be prevented or at least the resulting damage lessened?