PLANT GROUP: Northeast Plant Group
DRAINAGE BASIN: Hudson/James Bay
NEAREST POPULATION CENTRE: Kapuskasing (67 km (42 miles) south)
IN SERVICE DATE:
UNIT 1 - Nov. 28, 1963
UNIT 2 - Oct. 2, 1963
UNIT 3 - Jan. 19, 2014
BUILT BY: Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario
ASSET TRANSFERRED TO ONTARIO POWER GENERATION: April 1, 1999
NUMBER OF UNITS: 3
CAPACITY: 205 MW
As part of the Lower Mattagami Project, in partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation, a third unit was added to Little Long GS.
The name Mattagami comes from the Indian word meaning "where the waters meet."
In 1958, the Commission embarked on a plan to develop a number of hydraulic sites in the northeastern part of the province in the James Bay watershed. Extensive field investigation had indicated that approximately 2000 MW of peak capacity would be economical for development there for transmission at extra high voltage to load centres as far as 805 km to the south. Much of the available capacity was located on the Abitibi, Mattagami and Missinaibi Rivers and the Moose River into which they flow.
Little Long was one of three stations which the Commission used to develop power potential in a 32 km stretch of the river on either side of Smoky Falls. Ninety per cent of the run-off from the Mattagami River watershed is channelled to the Little Long generating station. The station was named after the rapids.
The new Mattagami River stations, Little Long, Harmon, Kipling and the new Highway 807 were officially opened by the Honourable John P. Robarts, Prime Minister of Ontario on July 21, 1966. The ceremony took place at the Harmon station.
- A diversion project with a difference was part of the construction of the Little Long generating station. Instead of diverting extra water into the river to increase the flow of the Mattagami, the Adam Creek diversion project uses a diversion to route water around two downstream projects which were under construction.
- The 8 km of dykes and dams built to form Little Long's head pond were the longest ever built by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario at the time. The unpredictable Mattagami River goes on a real rampage in the spring and the Adam Creek diversion provided an economical method of coping with spring floods.
- The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario estimated that the diversion would save about $13,000,000 in reduced sluiceway construction and cofferdam costs at the downstream Mattagami plants. In addition, it increases the power potential by reducing the tailwater level at all three stations.
- Many years ago, Adam Creek was a Mattagami channel that did not erode as much as the present riverbed. It became a meandering stream, rising 0.4 km (0.25 miles) from the river and draining a local area. When the water was raised in the 48 km2 (30 miles2) lake formed by the head pond, water was diverted through the eight-sluice control structure, making the creek into a river channel once more
- Trees and brush along part of the creek were removed to improve the channel. By gradually stepping up the flow of water, engineers planned to control erosion until the water itself carved a satisfactory diversion channel. The development of this channel was expected to continue for several years.
- Even filling the massive head pond at Little Long had to be done with extreme caution. Over 100 piezometer wells were sunk on the dry side of the dykes to assess seepage and ground water pressure. Trash booms were installed to keep debris away from both the Adam Creek and Main dam sluices, while hydro crews patrolled the water surface in boats. Two helicopters patrolled Adam Creek to report logjams and chart erosion patterns by radio.
- The filling operation was timed to coincide with the spring freshet in order to store sufficient water for future operations. But every step of the process had to keep two factors in mind. Sufficient water had to be let through the Main dam to supply the needs of Smoky Falls generating station, owned by the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company. At the same time, this flow had to be kept at a level that would not endanger the cofferdams at the Harmon project.
- Similarly, the Adam Creek diversion was broken in slowly by gradually increasing the flow through the 259 m (850 ft) control structure at the outlet. While all of these factors were being considered, the dykes at Little Long had to be protected against excessive water pressures until they demonstrated their effectiveness.
- A control office was set up with telephone or radio links to the upstream and downstream plants, the weather bureau, sluice gate operators, and other affected groups. The head pond was gradually raised to an elevation of 195 m (640 ft) and held there to test the dykes. Then it was slowly raised to within a few meters (feet) of the 198 m (650 ft) final elevation.
- The Little Long colony was built in 1960 and included a recreation hall, a four-room school, a supermarket, an office building, rows of neat houses as well as staff headquarters for single employees. A road was built from the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company's railway to the campsite and a spur railway line running parallel to the road.
- The Little Long project was well into black fly country. The Black Fly Song, a truly Canadian folk song, was written and composed by Wade Hemsworth. Mr. Hemsworth was working with a survey party in northern Ontario. He wrote the Black Fly Song while he was doing survey work in eastern Quebec.
- When the Little Long station went into service, the colony was used to house the construction personnel engaged in the work of harnessing the Mattagami at Harmon and Kipling. Once all three projects were completed, the colony was dismantled. Key personnel were moved to begin work on the $26 million hydroelectric project near Aubrey Falls, 72 km (45 miles) northwest of Elliot Falls on the Mississagi River. A smaller version of the Little Long camp was established there for 350 workers while many buildings removed from Little Long were erected jigsaw fashion at the new camp. In the six years more than three million meals were served at the camp, including 1,247,400 kg of meat and nearly 340,200 of flour.
- The Little Long Express was owned by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario and operated and maintained by the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Company, on whose rails it ran began operating in the fall of 1960. In its first year, it hauled more than 18 144 tonnes of equipment and carried approximately 24,000 passengers to and from the project, where more than 600 men worked. For Little Long alone - the first of three sites on a 24 km stretch of the river developed in 1966 — an estimated 54,000 to 63,000 tonnes of material was moved by the train.
- The Little Long Express got the job done. Seven times a week — once a day — it headed out from the Hydro siding and warehouse built on the western outskirts of Kapuskasing along the Spruce Falls line to Smoky Falls. At 69 km it veered off on more than a 2.4 km of spur line built by Hydro to the station and security office on the west side of the river at Little Long Rapids. Material and equipment aboard was unloaded and transported across to the campsite.
- One of the biggest pieces of equipment moved in one piece was a 2.5-yard shovel.
- The trip up took between two and three hours, depending on the weight the 600 hp engine was pulling. If it couldn't make the grade the train was split up into two sections, which were taken in one at a time. In addition to its own cars, The Commission rented Canadian National Railway freight cars on a daily basis. These cars, loaded with material, were switched over onto the siding at Kapuskasing to save transshipments. Transports were carried "piggyback" on two Commission flatcars brought up from Toronto.
- Six days a week, the Little Long Express left the Kapuskasing siding at noon. The mail was brought over from the C.N.R. station 1.5 km away, and with two toots on the whistle away she went. On Sunday, it didn't leave until 8 p.m., giving those who came in on the weekend a chance to enjoy the day in town. Fare was $2.00 round trip and $1.25 one-way.
- For emergency runs and special travel arrangements, a Chevrolet station wagon fitted with "bogie" wheels (flanged wheels that fit on the rails) was used. This unusual car made the trip in a little under two hours, but didn't exceed 56 km an hour because it could jump the track.
- Including the rolling stock, sidings, spur line and other equipment, The Commission spent more than $200,000 for the Little Long Express. In addition, it shared the cost of keeping the Spruce Falls line in good repair.
- Alternative to the train was construction of an access road from Kapuskasing to the site. Studies showed, however, that utilizing the existing track was more economical than building and maintaining such a road.
- Forty-three km to the northeast of Little Long, as the crow flies, is Otter Rapids generating station, which was scheduled for initial operation in 1961, but there was no direct access between the two sites. Buying a train was a rather novel departure for the Commission, but not new. For a number of years it operated a train from the Ontario Northland Railway station at Fraserdale to the Abitibi Canyon Colony, a distance of some 5.6 km.
- The Little Long train was used for the construction of both the second and third stations on the river (Harmon and Kipling). The access road at the Little Long site was extended to the Smoky Falls, Harmon, and Kipling generating station sites.
- The Commission paid about $90,000 for the engine, six passenger coaches, two mail and baggage cars, three boxcars and the caboose. All were bought second-hand, and ranged in price from $68,000 for the diesel, which saw service in Vermont for the St. Johnsbury & Lamoille Country Railroad, to $450 for the caboose.
- The passenger cars were circa 1900, vintage day coaches, and had seen better days. The same could be said for the caboose and the other cars. Little Long Express was a welcome sight when it rolled into the campsite. It played a vital role in the program to develop remaining hydraulic resources along the northern frontier.