This Brochure issued by Ontario Hydro in 1949 chronicles the progress of construction to that date. It's full text follows. Individual pages with pictures can be accessed in the "Gallery" section.


Des Joachims Generating Station (1949 Publication)

CONSTRUCTION WORK is now well advanced on the great Des Joachims power development, one of the largest projects ever undertaken by The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. It is situated on the Ottawa River about 38 miles upstream from Pembroke. When it is completed, Des Joachims will supply 358,000 kilowatts (480,000 horsepower) at 60 cycles, to serve Hydro's Southern Ontario system. Power from this new development will be transmitted for a distance of some 200 miles over 230,000-volt steel tower transmission lines. Actual construction at the site began in the fall of 1946, and the first units of this eight-unit plant will be in service by July 1950, with the complete eight units scheduled for service by the end of 1950 or early in 1951.

Designed with an operating head of 130 feet, the Des Joachims plant will consist principally of a massive main dam and powerhouse, and large auxiliary structures which form part of the power development scheme. The surrounding area will be materially changed as a result of this project. Included in the work are the clearing of 11,000 acres of land between the Des Joachims site and the village of Mattawa (a distance of 57 miles), the diversion and rebuilding of 23 miles of railway line and 12 miles of provincial highway.

This booklet describes and illustrates the principal engineering and construction features of the Des Joachims undertaking and calls attention to the enormous amounts of materials required to complete the project.

Des Joachims (popularly pronounced Dah Swisha) derives its name from two brothers of the Joachims family who formerly owned great tracts of land in the district. On the Quebec side of the river, near the site of the job, is the once-flourishing lumbering village of Des Joachims which still retains much of the flavour and atmosphere typical of French-Canadian communities in the Ottawa Valley. On the Ontario side of the river, location of camp headquarters, is the village of Rolphton, which serves as the postal address for the Des Joachims development.

The camp area on the Ontario side of the river is laid out over a rolling section of the valley. On the heights overlooking the river are the administration offices, staff houses, and general housing quarters; as one moves down towards the river, great stock piles of materials may be seen arranged along the river bank in the vicinity of the machine shop and other construction buildings. Looking across the river to the Quebec side and following the lines of the towering main dam, the scene is dominated by the cement-mixing plant at the top of the cliff, and receding into the distance are the gigantic Bailey bridge trestles erected for the aggregate conveyor system. Set against a picturesque background of heavy forest growth and the rolling hills of the Laurentian range, activity on the Quebec side of the river is also speeding forward to complete construction on that section of the job. A fully equipped camp is operated by Hydro for personnel working on the Quebec side of the river, while the Atlas Construction Company, contractors for the McConnell Lake control dam, have constructed their own construction camp at that point.

Among the principal works of the development will be a gravity type dam approximately 2,400 feet long, with a maximum height of 190 feet. From the headworks incorporated in this main dam at the head of the Des Joachims Rapids, eight 22-foot diameter steel penstocks will convey the water to the turbines in the powerhouse at the base of the dam. (See general arrangement diagram.)

A tailrace channel some 7,000 feet long and 150 feet wide will be excavated through solid rock in the Des Joachims Rapids section of the river. Located adjacent to and north of the main dam will be an auxiliary dam approximately 1,300 feet long with a maximum height of 65 feet.

To the north of the Ottawa River and running parallel to the main stream is a valley containing McConnell Lake. This valley is to be used as a flood discharge channel and will require a control dam at its western end where the raised water level above the main dam would otherwise spill over into the valley. A channel enlargement extending from McConnell Lake to the Deep River section of the Ottawa River is required at the eastern end of this valley. The control dam (McConnell Lake Dam) will be approximately 1,600 feet long with a maximum height of 130 feet and will incorporate forty 16-foot stop log sluices and six 40-foot sluiceways with steel gates. Construction of this dam is being carried out by the Atlas Construction Company under the supervision of Hydro engineers. Final closure of the river will be made at the control dam.

The giant cableway which sweeps across the river over the main dam is a very interesting part of the construction plan at Des Joachims. It was erected to help construct temporary Bailey bridging across the river, to simplify the installation of the powerhouse and to act as a general carrier during dam construction. The original cableway was built in 1923 and has been used on various other projects in North America prior to its use at Des Joachims. Its most recent location was at Passe Dangereuse, part of the Shipshaw power development in Quebec.

The head tower for the cableway (on the Ontario side) is 105 feet high; the tail tower in Quebec is 159 feet high. The main cable splits into two parts at the tail tower, each part then leading to an individual rock anchor for the cableway. The tail tower, therefore, acts as a mast and is permitted to rock on its footings. The main cable tension is controlled by a block and tackle located on the main cable at the tail tower end.

The Ontario end of the main cable is fixed to the head tower, this tower being counterbalanced by a sand box. A new type of operating mechanism, designed by Construction Improvements Ltd., Toronto, makes it possible to move the load in either direction while simultaneously raising or lowering. In order that the cableway may have lateral movement, the head tower is mounted on railway trucks on a double railroad track and controlled by a cable wrapped around a powered drum and anchored at each end of the curved track. A signal man located on the job relays instructions to the operator in the head tower by telephone.

Bailey bridging is being used extensively on the Des Joachims development. The foremost use of this material has been in the construction of a high-level bridge across the Ottawa River. Built to carry concrete conveyors, this bridge is supported on towers which are also made of standard Bailey bridge units. A second bridge has been constructed across the river, providing access to the powerhouse for heavy transport coming from the Ontario side of the river. Bailey bridging has also been used for the framework for concrete forms in the main dam. After erection, this framework of Bailey bridge steel is sheathed in with prefabricated plywood panels to make a complete form.

On the Quebec side, Bailey material has been used to form the necessary superstructure for the Bell Lake screening plant and to build conveyor trestles for the aggregate conveyors and mixing plant approach conveyor.

Many of the uses of Bailey bridging on the Des Joachims development are quite unusual, involving the design and construction of specially required parts. The use of Bailey steel units for work other than bridging is in many cases a pioneering work in this field, especially for concrete formwork. The versatile bridging material which proved of such great value in battle areas in World War II is coming into extensive use in Hydro operations.

At the present time there is a construction staff of some 2,500 employees at work on the Des Joachims project. Three main camps provide excellent accommodation for the personnel working on the project and include well-equipped cafeterias serving delicious food in generous quantities. There are also clean, comfortable living quarters with showers and laundries, recreational buildings, central heating systems and a well-equipped hospital.

Recreational activities include hockey, skiing, baseball, horseshoes, badminton, bowling and dancing. Reading and writing rooms provide a friendly atmosphere of warmth and comfort for those who wish to write letters or to catch up on the news of the outside world. Canteens and tuck shops carry many lines of general wearing apparel for the camp inhabitants, as well as candy, soft drinks and tobacco.

A fine school building, situated in the centre of a large well-equipped playground, assures the young people of the camp an opportunity of getting a good start in their schooling. The building is well lighted, neatly painted, and would be a credit to many a larger community. The staff, consist ing of the Principal and three assistant teachers, is thoroughly efficient and doing an excellent job. Regular classes are also conducted for adults.

The modern 30-bed hospital designed and planned by the Commission's Medical Director is fully equipped to meet surgical and medical needs. The staff consists of a resident physician, two graduate nurses, an X-ray technician, a first-aid man, and an ambulance driver. A wellstocked dispensary is available to look after minor medical needs.

The whole community has an air of contentment reflecting careful organization, satisfied workers, and all in all, a peaceful prosperity-a tribute to the skill and understanding of the Commission's organizers and officials both in the Administrative Offices and in the Field.

Interesting Facts and Figures



Main Dam Length - 2,400 feet
Maximum height above natural bed of river - 155 feet
Maximum height above sound rock - 190 feet
Auxiliary Dam Length - 1,300 feet
Maximum height above natural ground - 55 feet
Maximum height above sound rock - 65 feet
McConnell Lake Dam Length - 1,600 feet
Maximum height above natural ground - 115 feet
Maximum height above sound rock - 130 feet

Earth (cu. yds.) Rock (cu. yds.)
For structures and channels - 318,000 2,089,000
For permanent roads - 539,000 115,000
For diversion No. 17 highway - 580,000 306,000
For diversion C.P.R. railway - 907,000 600,000

890,00 cubic yards of concrete required for the Des Joachims structures (sufficient to build a standard sidewalk 4 ft. by 4 inches thick, 3,420 miles in length). The main dam and headworks alone require 489,000 cubic yards. Reinforcing steel for Des Joachims concrete - 5,600 tons (140 carloads).

Lumber for camps, forms and construction timber: 18,000,000 F.B.M. (720 carloads-equivalent to a train six miles long). Estimated cost of development (including generation, transmission, and transformation) $105,000,000. Estimated number of people depending upon the project for daily subsistence, 25,000.