Why we are here? Winnipeg Hydro

Why we are here? Winnipeg Hydro

Pinawa Generating Station - circa 1926 (Old Pinawa)The Pinawa Generating Station was opened and started transmitting electrical power to the city of Winnipeg in 1906. It was Manitoba’s first year-round Hydro generating plant and marked the beginning of hydro-electric development on the Winnipeg River.

Construction of the plant began in April 1903 after the Winnipeg General Power Company obtained a perpetual lease on the Pinawa Site. On July 26 1904, the Winnipeg General Power Company officially amalgamated with the Winnipeg Electric Street Railway Co. This new company became known as the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company (WERCo.). The plant was officially opened on May 31, 1906 and completed in 1907 at a cost of $3,055,000. Power was distributed to the cities of Winnipeg and St. Boniface, the towns of Transcona, Stony Mountain and Stonewall, and the rural municipalities of Fort Garry, Assiniboia, East and West Kildonan, St. Andrews, St. Vital, St. Paul and Rockwood, serving over 25,000 people.

On October 25, 1951 the Pinawa Generating Station was retired from service so the full flow of the Winnipeg River could be restored to the main channel for use by the newly expanded Seven Sisters Dam (which had been opened in 1931 by WERCo.)

Locomotive #2 – Pointe du Bois Tramway

Train #2 In Winnipeg River - June 14, 2014Railroads have played a major part in the history of Lac du Bonnet since the turn of the twentieth century and one of particular interest is the line that was constructed between Lac du Bonnet and the hydro electric site at Pointe du Bois, located on the Winnipeg River. Competition between the many companies offering or supplying electrical services finally amalgamated in 1904 with the City of Winnipeg to form the Winnipeg Electric Railway. For the next five years the city council remained in a state of indecision over the issue of constructing a hydro electric generating station. It wasn’t until 1909 that construction of the “tramway” was finally started. Train #2 In Winnipeg River – June 14, 2014Much of the ensuing history seems to centre on the various steam locomotives that operated between Lac du Bonnet and “the Point”, their successes and their failures. Train #2 In Winnipeg River - June 14, 2014One such incident was with Engine #2, known as the “Star” or “White Star” and its encounter with the Winnipeg River Bridge. The bridge, designed to carry a gross weight of 177,000 pounds encountered engine #2 and its tender which weighed in at 246,500 pounds. On June 30, 1914 the inevitable occurred when the bridge collapsed under the weight of the “Star”. It and its tender ended up in the river along with the first boxcar securely nosed into the tender but still partly on the bridge. It was to join the wreckage in the river before all was salvaged by a Canadian Pacific Railway wrecking crew. The engine was presumably rebuilt at the CPR shops in Winnipeg. The following year the Greater Winnipeg Water District tendered for a locomotive in January of 1915 and the Star” was finally sold to them the following year.

Train #2 In Winnipeg River - June 14, 2014Train #2 In Winnipeg River – June 14, 2014On other occasions, when the train arrived at the bridge, all got off the train. The Fireman walked across the bridge to the other side. . The Engineer started the train in motion and the Fireman stopped it at the other end while the passengers and Engineer walked across the bridge to resume the ride to their destination. On one occasion the Engineer had to chase his escaping train. (Source: Tramway to the Point)

For more interesting reading pick up a copy of “Tramway to the Point, The Winnipeg Hydro Tramway 1907 to 1996”, by Peter Lacey available at the local Lac du Bonnet Museum.