The French River Dam Complex - Big Chaudière Dam Replacement

French River Dam Complex - Big Chaudire Dam


The French River is part of a vast watershed in Ontario that drains Lake Nipissing into the Georgian Bay. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is responsible for managing water levels within the standard operating guidelines for Lake Nipissing and the French River.

The French River Dam Complex is made up of three dams: the Big Chaudière Dam, the Portage Dam and the Little Chaudière Dam. These structures control the outflow from Lake Nipissing and are essential because they help maintain the water level of Lake Nipissing (city of North Bay) and regulate the flow of water into the 105-kilometre-long French River.

The Big Chaudière dam was built between 1910 and 1916 and consists of two concrete structures with large steel gates that are divided by a rock island, thus forming two channels, a north channel and a south channel: a twin gate structure controls the flow to the North Channel and a single gate structure controls the flow to the South Channel.

While the Big Chaudière Dam is structurally safe, it is now nearing the end of its useful life. The replacement project will allow for continued safe and reliable water management and will bring the dam in line with the Canadian Dam Association guidelines.

For further information on French River and Lake Nipissing, please see French River and Lake Nipissing Web site.

Scope of the activities

The general scope of the Big Chaudière Dam Project is as follows:

  • Construct new North and South dams close to the existing ones; and
  • Remove the existing North and South dams.

Previous activities

In the spring of 2012, PWGSC proceeded with a Request for Proposal for an engineering design consultant for the replacement project of the dam. This process was conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner through the Government Electronic Tendering System (MERX).

On June 15, 2012, PWGSC awarded a $717,997.48 engineering design contract for the replacement of the Big Chaudière Dam to Hatch of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The contract was competitively awarded and will provide engineering design services as well as preparation of construction drawings and specifications for the replacement of the dam.

The construction drawings and specifications were completed in June 2014 and an Invitation to Tender (ITT) was posted afterwards on the Government Electronic Tendering System

On August 15, 2014, PWGSC announced the awarding of a $12.7-million contract to EBC Inc. of Brossard, Quebec for the replacement of the Big Chaudière Dam.

Upcoming activities

The construction started in the Fall 2014 and will be completed by 2016.

Several communication tools will be utilized during the construction project in order to inform the Dokis First Nation and regional stakeholders of the progress of the activities.

For further information on the recent announcement regarding public infrastructure investments, please see Canada News Centre.

Feedback and Contacts

If you would like to obtain more information, please contact PWGSC's Real Property Branch.