ABITIBI CANYON GENERATING STATION
PLANT GROUP: Northeast Plant Group
DRAINAGE BASIN: Hudson/James Bay
NEAREST POPULATION CENTRE: Cochrane (113 KM (70 Miles) South)
IN SERVICE DATE:
UNIT 1 - May 1933
UNIT 2 - December 1933
UNIT 3 - 1959
UNIT 4-5 - 1936
ACQUIRED BY HYDRO-ELECTRIC POWER COMMISSION OF ONTARIO: 1933
FROM: Ontario Power Service Corporation
Asset Transferred to Ontario Power Generation: April 1, 1999
NUMBER OF UNITS: 5
CONTROL: Remote from Porcupine TS
HISTORICAL NOTE: A monument was erected at Moosonee in 1932 by the contractor who had completed the construction of the Abitibi Canyon power dam and the extension of the railway to tidewater at Moosonee. It was a tribute to the common labourers who had worked on these great and difficult projects. There is a four-sided cairn facing east, west, north and south. On each side is a bronze plaque and Rudyard Kipling's poem, "Sons of Martha", is embossed on these plaques, two verses on each. The contractor who erected this monument was Harry F. McLean, a man whose name was synonymous with the period of our history from 1914 to 1945.
Kipling and McLean met at a gathering, where Kipling recited his poem and McLean received the inspiration for the monuments which he also erected at the Pas, Flin and Churchill.
This development was designed by the George F. Hardy Company of New York for the Ontario Power Service Corporation, a subsidiary of the Abitibi Power and Paper Company. The actual construction started in 1930, was done by the Dominion Construction Company. In July of 1932 work was discontinued and in November 1932, the Ontario Power Service Corporation was placed in receivership until the development was taken over by the Province of Ontario early in 1933.
The Colony - The Abitibi Canyon colony was established in 1930 to house staff and their families working at the Abitibi Canyon generating station. After construction of the station was completed, staff living in the colony operated and maintained the plant. At one point, passengers going to the Canyon colony travelled by rail to the Fraserdale station where they boarded the Hydro train and proceeded for the a distance of 5.6 km (3.5 miles) to the colony's siding or splashed down into a station head pond by small float plane. By 1966, a 74 km (165 mile) road to Smooth Rock Falls was built ending the sense of isolation.
During the mid 1940's there were about 130 people in the Hydro community which contained 30 permanent homes, four temporary houses and five privately owned houses. There was also a well equipped staff house, community hall, an enclosed skating rink, a shooting range, school, hospital, general store, post office and church.
At the time, the high school had a special dispensation from the Ontario Department of Education making it possible to take pupils from Kindergarten to senior matriculation or grade 13. In later years, most teenagers were bused to high school in Smooth Rock Falls for grade nine and half of them took room and board in Timmins and Kapuskasing for the higher grades. By the mid 1970's there were 85 families living at the Canyon. The recreation centre had always been the hub of the community. Major indoor facilities now included a three-sheet curling rink, hockey rink, swimming pool, four-lane bowling alley, billiard room, library, gymnatorium with a stage, dressing rooms, a 6 m (20 ft) screen, kitchen and sports equipment for team games like floor hockey, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and badminton. Outdoor activities included trapshooting, basketball, croquet, horseshoe pitching, a supervised summer playground, a ski tow and cross country ski trail.
By 1982, about 300 residents lived at the colony. Although some of the employees and their families loved the tight-knit communal existence, others were less than enthusiastic. The yearly turn over of staff was about four times the average elsewhere in the Corporation. Families had to deal with the long harsh realities of sub zero temperatures of winter to the swarms of black flies of summer.
The townsite was costing Ontario Hydro $1,000,000 a year to operate and maintain. The Canyon fell victim to the economics of remote operation and to improved highways in this unpopulated and forested part of Ontario. A decision was announced April 28, 1980 to close down the Abitibi Canyon community. The community was phased out over a two year period.