DRAINAGE BASIN: St. Lawrence River
RIVER: St. Lawrence
NEAREST POPULATION CENTRE: Cornwall
BUILT BY: Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario
ASSET TRANSFERRED TO ONTARIO POWER GENERATION: April 1, 1999
NUMBER OF UNITS: 16; in service between July 8, 1958 and Dec. 18, 1959
CAPACITY: 1,045 MW
The Robert H. Saunders Generating Station is located on Ontario’s border with New York State and stretches a kilometre across the St. Lawrence River. Named in honour of Robert Hood Saunders, then Chairman of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, the station is an important part of Ontario’s electricity system, providing clean, renewable power all year round. Completed in the late 1950s, the station is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. The American half of the structure, known as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, is operated independently by the New York Power Authority.
OPG employees a staff of about 90 people at the station, most of whom live in the Cornwall area. Through our Corporate Citizenship Program, OPG provides support to nearly 50 community programs and local not-for-profit agencies.
Construction of the station and dams, and the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s was a massive project, which relocated more than 6,500 people to higher ground. For the Mohawk people of Akwesasne, who lived in this traditional territory for centuries, the impact of the construction and operations was considerable. Much of the Akwesasne’s lands were flooded including islands, the Long Sault rapids, and both burial and sacred sites. Restricted travel to their upstream islands, as well as damage to the natural ecosystem including the river fishing that made up a large part of their food supply, caused insurmountable loss and despair to their community.
In October 2008, OPG provided an official apology to the Mohawks of Akwesasne as part of a final settlement agreement to address past grievances associated with the station construction. This historic milestone as a result of the efforts made in good faith to resolve their long-standing claims.
Today, the Lost Villages Historical Society recognizes the sacrifice the St. Lawrence Valley citizens made during the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, and supports the development of educational and museum archiving programs at the Lost Villages Museum in Ault Park, Long Sault.
Adjacent to the R.H Saunders station is the St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre. Opened in the summer of 2010, it provides a home for OPG’s many stories including the history of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. The centre showcases traditional artifacts and display panels that highlight the history of the Mohawks of Akwesasne and feature artwork from local Mohawk artist John Thomas.
Please visit the St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre page for more information on hours and upcoming events.