PLANT GROUP: Northwest Plant Group
DRAINAGE BASIN: Lake Superior
NEAREST POPULATION CENTRE: Thunder Bay (29 Km (18 Miles) East)
IN SERVICE DATE:
UNITS 1-2 - 1906
UNIT 3 - 1911
UNIT 4 - 1914
ACQUIRED BY HYDRO-ELECTRIC POWER COMMISSION OF ONTARIO: 1949
FROM: Kaministiquia Power Company (Abitibi Power and Paper Company)
Asset Transferred to Ontario Power Generation: April 1, 1999
NUMBER OF UNITS: 4
CONTROL: Remote from Thunder Bay
TRIBUTARY: Dog River
Back in 1896, a year before Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee as a reigning monarch and ten years before the creation of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, a resident of northern Ontario, E.S. Jenison approached the provincial government. He was seeking approval of a project to develop waterpower in the Kaministiquia River near Kakabeka Falls. His objective was to serve customers in the growing Lakehead communities of Fort William and Port Arthur with electricity.
At the time of the Jenison petition, such an undertaking as he contemplated was still regarded as quite a venture. Hydro-Electric development in Canada was in its infancy. Apart from direct current pumps which supplied the town of Niagara Falls with water, there was only the electric power installation on the Ontario side of the Niagara River. This was a comparatively small generating station built by the International Railway Company to supply power for the operation of its railway between Chippawa and Queenston. Not only was the proposed Jenison enterprise to be regarded as almost a pioneer undertaking from the point of view of hydraulic construction, but the power he developed would have to be transmitted a distance of approximately 32 km (20 miles) no mean feat in the days when alternating current was just passing out of the experimental stage. Jenison, however, appears to have been a man who inspired confidence. His request was granted and the development was carried out successfully.
The Jenison agreement was embodied in an enactment of the Legislature and among waterpower development enterprises in the province shares only with the hydroelectric Power Commission of Ontario this signal distinction.
The act, in part, set forth that the petitioner "within three years after the date of the agreement will construct works sufficient to produce 5000 hp and will install and maintain electric machinery sufficient to create and distribute at least 1000 hp of energy to supply the customers, and as much more machinery as will create and supply 25 per cent more electric power than there may be demand for at all times thereafter, and that he will furnish this power to the customers at such cities as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may approve and that he will make provision to pass over Kakabeka Falls at least 113 km3 (4,000 ft3) of water per minute at all times." The penalty for non-fulfillment of these terms was the forfeit to the Crown of all lands and rights granted for the carrying out of the project.
The agreement clearly shows that the new waterpower development was to be regarded in many respects as a public service enterprise. It suggests, of course, that even at this early date, there was a growing public sentiment in favour of the development of the waterpower resources of the province in the general interest. As this sentiment crystallized, it was to find a powerful advocate in the late Sir Adam Beck and to lead to the creation of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario.
In 1905, the cities of Port Arthur and Fort William were becoming a grain centre, flour milling industries started and the demand for power became urgent. Sir H.S. Holt, W.A. Black, president of Ogilvie Milling Company, C.R. Hosmer and others purchased E.S. Jenison's right and the present plant was commenced.
The Company as thus formed, developed the plant for 15 000 hp and commenced supply in December 1906 and its history has been one of steady growth since that date. Further extensions in 1911 developed a further 7500 hp and the powerhouse was extended to its present size. The final development to the limit of stream flow was made in 1914 by the addition of a 12 500 hp turbine.
In 1949, the business and assets of the Kaministiquia Power Company was purchased from the parent Abitibi Power and Paper Company in Toronto by the Commission. The assets of the Company were purchased at a price of $5 million. This included the Kakabeka Falls generating station as well as the storage dams and other associated facilities in the vicinity of the plant.
With the purchase of the station, the Commission was now in a position to amalgamate all the power resources in that part of the province. In addition, the Commission now had complete control of the water storage and flow of the Kaministiquia River which was of considerable value when Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario proceeded with the Silver Falls development. Also, the Commission was in a position to use water available in the Nipigon and Kaministiquia River watersheds to much better advantage than it would be if these waters were controlled and operated by different parties.
By amalgamating all the power resources of the northwestern part of the province into one system, the Commission was able to guarantee better electrical service (see also Silver Falls).
Download the Kakabeka Falls 100th anniversary brochure.