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JAMES WHITE, Secretary

Water- Powers
of Canada

LEO G. DENIS, B. Sc.. E. E.


Ottawa: The Mortimer Co., Ltd. : 1911



May It Please Your Excellency:

The undersigned has the honour to lay before Your Excellency the
report of the Commission of Conservation on the "Water-Powers of
Canada. "

Respectfully submitted


OTTAWA, Sept. 22, 1911

OTTAWA, Sept. 23, 1911


I have the honour to transmit herewith a report on "The Water-
Powers of Canada, " the result of nearly two years' work of investigation
and compilation on the part of the officials of the Commission of Conser-
vation. The chapters dealing with the water-powers of Quebec, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories are the work of
Leo G. Denis, B.Sc., Hydro-Electric Engineer of the Commission of Con-
servation. The greater part of the report was written by Arthur V. White,
C.E., who has had considerable experience in work of this kind under the
Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. Mr. White is the author
of the introductory portion of the work (Chapters I and II) and of the
chapters on the waters of Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
and New Brunswick. He also compiled the Bibliography and selected the
material appearing in the Appendices. The chapter respecting the water-
powers of British Columbia was written by W. J. Dick, M.Sc., Mining
Engineer of the Commission of Conservation. Chapter IX on " Irrigation
in Western Canada " was kindly contributed by George B. Hull, C.E.

The information respecting the water-powers of Ontario, Quebec,
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island is much more
complete than that of the other provinces. In regard to Quebec, much
information has been obtained from the reports of Messrs. Gauvin and
Langelier, made to the Department of Lands and Forests, Quebec, and
from the Georgian Bay Ship Canal survey most of the powers in the
portion of the Ottawa river covered by the latter being owned, partly, by
Quebec and, partly, by Ontario. In the summer of 1910, Mr. Leo G.
Denis was occupied in supplementing and verifying existing data. In the
case of Ontario, extensive use has been made of the very valuable reports
of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission and, as in the case of Quebec
powers, of the Georgian Bay Ship Canal survey. For the Maritime
Provinces, the available information was so meagre that the Commis-
sion deemed it advisable to conduct field operations under Mr. Arthur
V. White during the summer and autumn of 1910. The information
available concerning Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Col-
umbia was found to be so scanty that the Commission has found
it necessary to institute a reconnaisance survey of the powers in
those provinces. The work in the Prairie provinces is being carried
out by Mr. Denis and the British Columbia surveys are under the
direction of Mr. A. V. White. The results of these investigations will be
published later as a report on the " Water-Powers of Western Canada. "

On the whole, it may be said that the report is the most complete work
of its kind that has been published on the water-powers of the Dominion;
for, not only does it embody the essential features of information previously
known, but it also supplements these by the results of field surveys con-
ducted by the Commission in several provinces. In addition the published
and unpublished information respecting these powers has, for the first time
been brought together. The data respecting the legislation, public and
private, connected with the great hydro-electric plants at Niagara Falls,
has never been compiled before nor, is there extant any other history of
he movements that led up to the formation, in its present form of the
Hydro-Electric Commission of Ontario.

The Commission wishes to acknowledge its obligation to those who
generously assisted in the compilation of this report by supplying informa-
tion in their possession. Among those from whom valuable information
was obtained are the following: Federal Department of Public Works,
Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, International River St.
John Commission, Federal Department of Railways and Canals, Queen
Victoria Niagara Falls Park Commissioners and other departments and
officials of the Dominion and Provincial Governments; the engineering pro-
fession throughout Canada; the officials of the Canadian Pacific, Grand
Trunk Pacific, Canadian Northern and other railways; and the various
power companies that furnished information concerning their properties.

I have the honour to be,

Your obedient servant


Chairman, Commission of Conservation


























Horseshoe Fall, Niagara Frontispiece

"The Notch," Montreal River, Ontario 16

Kakabeka Fall, Kaministikwia River, Ontario 23

Virgin Fall, Nipigon River, Ontario 33

Chaudiere Regulating Dam, Ottawa River, Ottawa 40

Hydro-Electric Transmission Line " A, " showing Joint in Tower Loop 48

Transmission Lines, Southwestern, Ontario, Map 60

Dam No. 1, Trent Canal, Hastings Co., Ontario 54

Map of Niagara Falls, showing location of Power Developments 64

Cross-sectional View of Plant of The Canadian Niagara Power Company at

Niagara Falls 72

Cross-sectional View of Plant of The Ontario Power Company at Niagara Falls ... 75

Cross-sectional View of Power House of The Electrical Development Company

at Niagara Falls 80

Aubrey Fall, Mississagi River, Ontario 96

Sixth Fall, White River, Ontario 96

Transmission Lines, N.E. and N.W. Ontario, Map 100

Couchiching Fall, Abitibi River, Ontario 104

Gajigamok Fall, English River, Ontario 104

Upper Ottawa Storage:

Basin of the Ottawa River, Diagram 138

Approximate Discharge of Ottawa River, Diagram ... 138

Water Surface Profile, Kipawa River, Diagram 138

" River des Quinze, Diagram 138

" " Ottawa River, Diagram 138

Gordon Creek, Diagram 138

Petawawa River, Diagram 138

" Madawaska River, Diagram 138

Daily Discharge of the Gatineau River, Diagram 138

Water Surface Profile, Gatineau River, Diagram 138

" Rideau River, Diagram 138

" Du Lievre River, Diagram 138

" Rouge River, Diagram 138

Ouiatchuan Falls, Lake St. John, Quebec 150

Shawinigan Falls, St. Maurice, Quebec 153

Transmission Lines in Quebec and New Brunswick 154

Dam on Chaudiere River, near Le"vis, Quebec 156

Laurentide Paper Company's Plant, Grand 'mere, Quebec 158

Chicoutimi Fall, Chicoutimi River, Quebec 160

M6tis Falls, M6tis River, Matane, Quebec 162

Montmorency Falls, Montmorency River, Quebec 165

Freshet, Upper Pulp Mill Dam, Liverpool River, Nova Scotia 195

Liverpool River at Lew Water, Showing Boulder Strewn Bed 198

Average Monthly Precipitation in Inches for 37 Years at Halifax, Nova Scotia,

Diagram 200



Annual Precipitation in Inches at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Diagram 200

Drainage Basin of East river Sheet Harbour, Map 201

Shelburne Municipal Hydro-Electric Plant on the Medway River, Nova Scotia. . . 202

A Mine Power House at Isaac Harbour, which Utilizes Small Watershed with

High Head 202

A Typical Log-driving Dam, Nova Scotia. Note the Dead Trees, the Result of

Flooded Banks 202

A Difficult Problem in Fish-ways, Pulp-mill Dam, Sissibou River, Nova Scotia. . . 202

Saw-mill on St. Croix River, Nova Scotia, run by Water-power the Year Round . 204

Suitable for Power-site Dam, Ecumsecum River, Nova Scotia 204

Hydro-Electric Development, Montague River, Prince Edward Island 228

Grand Falls, St. John River, New Brunswick 230

Magaguadavic River, New Brunswick, Water-driven Pulp Mill, etc 232

Power House near Mouth of Aroostook River, New Brunswick 232

Looking down Tobique River, New Brunswick 232

First Falls, Head of Tide, Musquash River, New Brunswick 232

Discharge of St. John River at Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Diagram 237

Tetagouche River, New Brunswick, from Bluff Overlooking Tetagouche Falls .... 240

Grand Falls, Nipisguit River, New Brunswick 240

Curves Indicating the Discharge of the Upper St. John River and its Tributaries,

New Brunswick, Diagram 242

City of Winnipeg Power Plant, Point du Bois, Winnipeg River, Manitoba 277

Transmission Lines in Western Canada, Map 283

Horseshoe Falls, near Kananaskis, Alberta 285

Bow River Falls, Rocky Mountains Park, Banff, Alberta 286

Kananaskis Falls, Kananaskis, Alberta 286

White Horse Rapids, Lewes River, Yukon 288

Hydraulicing in American Gulch, Yukon 288

Main Canal, C.P.R. Irrigation Block, Alberta 295

Main Canal, Eastern Section, C.P.R. Irrigation Block 300

Bassano Dam, Bow River, Eastern Section, C.P.R. Irrigation Block 300

Stave Falls, British Columbia 303

Stave Falls, British Columbia Another view 304

Opening of Vancouver Power Company's Tunnel Connecting Coquitlam Lake with

Buntzen Lake, British Columbia 306

Power House, North Arm, Burrard Inlet, British Columbia 306

The Water- Powers of Canada

General Introduction

WATER-POWER development is one of the important uses to which
many of our inland waters may be applied. But the importance of
this one use must not be allowed to blind us to the fact that there
are other uses that are equally important. Too often it has been the
tendency in reports on water-power resources to consider power devel-
opment exclusively, without giving adequate place in them to such
related subjects as navigation, agriculture, and domestic water-supply.
Practically all our fresh water comes primarily from one source
precipitation; and in every instance of proposed water-power develop-
ment, it is incumbent upon us to determine whether there will be
any prejudicial effect upon these other related interests, which depend
upon the same source of supply and which have a claim upon our fresh
waters, both surface and underground.

In this report, the necessity of treating the subject of power develop-
ment in a broad-minded way with due consideration for the other uses for
which water may be required, has been dwelt upon. The report includes
a comprehensive examination into the general character and extent of
the existent published data relating to the water-powers of Canada. The
need for more complete data than now exists has been emphasized and
the qualities desirable water-power data should possess have also been

Speaking generally, it may be said that no public records exist which
adequately set forth the amounts, locations and characteristics of the
water-powers of the Dominion. There are instances where private or
corporate interests have had individual water-powers developed, sur-
veyed and otherwise more or less thoroughly examined; and instances,
also, where daily gaugings of water levels are taken with the object of
determining the regimen of the waters contributory to some particular
source of water-power; but such instances where data are carefully
collected are the rare exception and not the general rule.

A full consideration of water as a natural resource directs attention to
so many interests that are primarily dependent upon it, that it becomes
imperative to exercise keen discrimination in determining what weight

/ViV: !*:**. ": .-: " V-; ra-& WATER-POWERS OF CANADA

and importance shall be attached to the water-power data we have to
consider. Therefore, before passing to the treatment of more specific
subjects, it will be profitable to offer some remarks which are pertinent
to water when viewed broadly as a natural resource. These remarks will
suggest what demands data relating to water-powers in particular should
be expected to meet. Special phases of the subject will be illustrated
by concrete examples taken from particular reports. These illustrations
will also emphasize more specifically just why it is necessary to have
much fuller data than exist at the present time respecting the water-
powers of Canada.

Importance of There has been a tendency on the part of many persons
Water-Powers interested in the conservation of natural resources to state
May be that this or that particular resource is the most important.

Exaggerated gome have said that the forests are the most important asset ;
others maintain that the soil, with its fertility, is the most important re-
source; and, of late, great stress is being laid upon the statement that water
is the chief asset, the prediction being made that the nation which has the
most and cheapest water-power available is destined to take precedence
in the world of commerce. As a matter of fact, however, all these various
interests are interdependent one upon the other. If any one feature of
our natural resources is to be placed before others, probably it could be
most reasonably urged that a fertile condition of the soil is the most im-
portant natural asset to be safeguarded; because, for his sustenance on
the earth, man requires food, raiment, and shelter, and these essentials
are supplied him, in one form or another, either directly or indirectly,
from the soil. It must be manifest, therefore, that the factors which
make for the permanence of the soil's productivity are factors of
paramount importance; and hence the subject of the conservation and
use of waters as a natural asset must, among other things, be considered
in its prime relationship to the subject of the productivity of the soil.

It may assist to a better understanding of some of the statements
made herein if the fact is borne in mind that the greatest danger which
besets the natural resources of not only this country, but of the world, is
the undue disturbance of the balance which Nature seeks to maintain.
Hence, in presenting the data which follow, no special effort has been
made to attach an importance to water-power, per se, to which it is not

The interests of municipal and domestic water supply,
" e / epen en( B water for manufacturing and industrial purposes, irrigation,
navigation, and water-power, are all inter-related and inter-
dependent. They all depend on the same natural source precipitation.
Precipitation by rainfall or snowfall virtually constitutes the only source
of inland water supply, and the natural and cultivated properties of the


land on which the rain and snow fall , largely determine the efficient uses
to which precipitation is applied. It is in this connection that forests are
so indispensably associated with the rainfall, and hence, with water as a
natural resource. Whatever opinion may be entertained as to the effect
of forests in influencing the amount of precipitation, all are agreed that
no feature of the topography of a country ministers more efficiently to
the gradual and economical run-off from the precipitation than do forest
areas. Thus it is that failure to intelligently conserve forest areas has
wrought havoc by causing a great destruction of forest floors and agricul-
tural lands, which, humanly speaking, can never be restored, to say
nothing of the annual destruction to property by flood run-off, which
seems yearly to increase rather than diminish.*

In the case of water-power developments, therefore, it is necessary to
know whether, or not, the industries which propose to use the water-
powers will prove to be a menace to the district of their proposed location.
Thus, wood-pulp mills, for example, which might completely denude the
timber lands of trees, at, or near, the head waters of important waterways
had better not be established at all; or if established, then only under the
strictest regulation and supervision designed to conserve the forest growth.
A deforested, eroded, and scoured territory, which has lost the humus of
its soil, cannot retain the beneficent rains which, instead of being retained
in the ground and transmuted into plants by the various processes of
growth, carry destruction in the pathways of their torrential run-off.
The water is necessary to the soil, and the soil, with its plant growth, is
necessary to an economical disposition of the water.

Water-Power Consider, next, a little more in detail, the possible effects
and which the diversion of water for power or other purposes

Agriculture mav have on agriculture. Of the annual rainfall upon the
earth, about one-half is evaporated; about one-third is "run-off" that
is, it runs off over or through the ground, and eventually reaches the sea;
and about one-sixth either joins the ground-water, or is taken up into
plant structure or is otherwise absorbed in processes incident to the
ground. Underneath the surface of the earth is a vast body of water
which may be likened to an underground lake, called the ground-water. It
is into the upper surface, frequently termed the water-table, of this ground-

* According to the National Conservation Commission Bulletin No. 4, Washington,
D.C., 1909, p. 17, " The direct yearly damage by floods since 1900, has increased steadily
from $45,000,000 to over $238,000,000. " 'Flood run-off is the most transient, irregular,
wasteful and dangerous part of precipitation. Its damage in the United States in 8
months, from Jan. 1st to Aug. 31st, 1908, was $237,000,000; washing away buildings,
goods, bridges, roads, real estate and railroads. The net loss just mentioned does not
include the deterioration of values not actually destroyed, nor financial Joss dependent
upon the lessened morale of the people. ' See Mr. Bailey Willis, in Conservation, No. 5,
Washington, 1909, p. 274.


water that wells are sunk for domestic and other water supply. It has
been estimated that, if all the moisture resident in the upper 100 feet of
the ground were collected, the amount would be the equivalent of a lake
of water some 17 feet deep, i.e., the equivalent of about 7 years' rainfall.
During periods of plant growth, this ground-water yields, chiefly by capil-
lary action, part of its moisture to the plants; and then, during seasons
of excessive rainfall, is again replenished from the rainfall. The annual
fluctuation in level of the ground water-table under normal conditions is
but a few inches. Such states as Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Southern
Michigan and the Dakotas, have already experienced alarming and per-
manent recedence in the levels of their ground-waters, and a consequent
diminution in crop production. Large sums of money have been ex-
pended by the Federal and State Governments in the United States, on the
investigation of the occurrence and flow of underground water, and it is
now being recognized more and more that proposed disposition of the
run-off, and underground waters, should be considered together, because
of a natural balance that exists between them.*

It is easily possible to so divert some watercourses as to allow much
of the ground-water to be lost, and, consequently, cause permanent damage
to a large expanse of territory. Great waste and carelessness have been
manifested in many localities by the users of the underground waters.
In the smaller towns, where the domestic wells furnish the water supply,
it has frequently been observed that, when some deep trench, as, for
example, a cut for a new sewer or a mine shaft, has been excavated, the
underground waters have drained away, thus " bleeding " the adjacent
territory and causing the wells of the neighbourhood to go dry. The lessons
that may be drawn from such illustrations should not be forgotten in con-
sidering our valuable underground waters, when viewed provincially or
with respect to their larger areas.

The underground waters of Canada, in some places, are now being
tapped and wasted. State after state, in the United States, has enacted
laws designed to conserve the underground waters. A main feature of
such laws has been the regulation of the flow by specifying the size of the
pipe through which ordinary domestic and farm water supply may be
taken. Sometimes the law states that the supply shall be taken through
a pipe one-half of one inch in diameter which shall be furnished with a stop

* Regarding the general subject of Underground Waters, consult the following
Water Supply and Irrigation Papers of the U. S. Geological Survey. Underground
Waters of Eastern United States, 1905, Wo. 114; Bibliographic Review and Index of
Papers relating to Underground Waters, 1879-1904; 1905, No. 120; Relation of the Law
to Underground Waters, 1905, No. 122; Field Measurements of the Rate of Movement of
Underground Waters, 1905, No. 140; Underground Water Papers, 1906, No. 160; Biblio-
graphic Review and Index of Underground Water Literature published in United States in
1905, No. 163.


valve. In some states the penalties for violation of the law relating to
underground waters are severe; for example, in the state of South

" If any person complains that the proprietor of an artesian well, or
the party controlling such well, is in the habit of letting the waters
go to waste, the Township Supervisor, County Commissioner, Road
Overseer, Alderman, or other City Officers, may enter upon the pre-
mises where the well is located in order to determine whether the com-
plaint is justified, and may institute criminal prosecution in case
violation of the law is ascertained. If the well is without valves to
regulate the flow and prevent waste, the person owning the well may be
fined up to one hundred dollars, or be imprisoned not more than three
months in jail, or both."*

Laws regulating the use of underground waters are needed in the
province of Ontario and in other provinces of Canada. At the present
time in Southern Ontario, farmers and others are tapping these underground
waters and, in some cases where " gushers " have been struck, the valuable
waters are permitted to run to waste continuously.

The following statement relating to the underground waters of South-
ern California is instructive. Discussing this subject at the Second Con-
ference of the Engineers of the United States Reclamation Service, F. C.
Finkle said:

" Much investigation has been carried on to determine the extent of
the underground water supplies in Southern California. All investi-
gators have reached about the same conclusion, that the supply pro-
duced by nature, annually, for the replenishment of these reservoirs
is limited. While it is considerable in years of abundant rainfall, it
becomes almost nothing in years of minimum precipitation, and a mean
must be drawn so that the reserve supply is not withdrawn to such
an extent as to imperil this resource. Up to the present time this has
been much neglected, and the haphazard and reckless way in which
promoters have attacked the underground water supply of Southern
California has demonstrated the necessity of future retrenchment.
A great number of cases may be cited where one company has ob-
tained a supply of water by underground development, soon to find
that someone else would follow them and either take away a portion
or all of their supply. Cases of this kind became so numerous that
the matter had to be brought to the attention of the Courts and much
expensive litigation has been the result, "f

Of this ground water, Dr. W. J. McGee, Secretary of the United
States Inland Waterways Commission, states :

"It is the essential basis of agriculture and most other industries,
and the chief natural resource of the country; it sustains forests and

* Johnson, D. W., Relation of the Law to Underground Waters, Washington, 1905;
p. 47. (W. S. & Irr. Paper No. 122).

t Newell, F. H., Proceedings of Second Conference of Engineers of the Reclamation

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