Big Chaudière Dam replacement project
From: Public Services and Procurement Canada
Find out about the new Big Chaudière Dam that was built to replace the old dam.
On this page
- Project overview
- Project description
- Benefits to Canadians
- Latest news about this project
- Project background
- Related links
- More information
- Dokis, Ontario
Locate the Big Chaudière Dam on a map
- Type of project
- Replacement of the Big Chaudière Dam
- Lead department
- Public Services and Procurement Canada
- Construction firms
- Hatch of Niagara Falls, Ontario (engineering design contract)
- EBC Inc. of Brossard, Quebec (construction contract)
- $21.9 million
- Project status
- Completed in October 2016
The Big Chaudière Dam, built between 1910 and 1916 on the shores of Lake Nipissing and the French River, is 1 of 3 dams that control the flow of water from Lake Nipissing into the French River. The dam consists of a south channel dam and a north channel dam.
During the project, new dams were built slightly downstream from the original Big Chaudière dams. The old dams were then removed.
Following the Canadian Dam Association’s Dam Safety Guidelines, the new dams have:
- a south channel dam with 1 mechanical gate for water control levels equipped with maintenance stoplogs
- a north channel dam with 2 mechanical gates for water control levels equipped with maintenance stoplogs
- a south dam deck that provides access to a parking area on the island located between the south dam and the north dam
This construction project began in 2012 and was completed in October 2016.
- 2012: An engineering design contract for the replacement of the Big Chaudière Dam was awarded to Hatch of Niagara Falls, Ontario
- August 2014: A contract for the replacement of the dam was awarded to EBC Inc. of Brossard, Quebec
- Fall 2014: The contractor began the construction of the new south channel dam and removed the cofferdam as well as the existing dam
- November 2015: The contractor began the construction of the new north channel dam and removed the cofferdam as well as the existing dam
- October 2016: The project area was restored and the construction project was completed on October 31, 2016
Benefits to Canadians
The Big Chaudière Dam replacement project shows the Government of Canada’s commitment to achieving its priorities. The modern public infrastructure helps improve the environment, make communities safer and strengthen the economy.
During construction, the general contractor hired 15 Dokis First Nation labourers and 10 other local workers. Operation of the Big Chaudière Dam is providing ongoing full-time employment to 2 members of the Dokis First Nation.
The French River dams control the outflow from Lake Nipissing and are essential for maintaining its water level and for regulating the flow of water into the 105-kilometre-long French River. The new dams ensure that the vibrant tourism industry in and around the French River will continue to attract people from across Canada.
Latest news about this project
- August 14, 2017: Government of Canada officially opens Big Chaudière Dam
Find out more about the techniques and methods used for the Big Chaudière Dam replacement project.
General scope of construction project
The replacement of the Big Chaudière Dam will allow for continuous safe and reliable water management, and the new dam was built to meet the Canadian Dam Association’s guidelines.
The general scope of this construction project was to construct new north and south dams close to the existing ones and to remove the old dams.
Before the project, we conducted an environmental effects evaluation to help minimize the effects on wildlife in the area.
The Environmental Inspection Closing Report, prepared by EBC Inc., shows that measures designed to minimize risk posed by dam construction activities towards species at risk were successful.
Operation of the French River Dam Complex during construction
Lake Nipissing and the French River are regulated with the help of 3 federally owned dams:
- Portage Dam
- Little Chaudière Dam
- Big Chaudière Dam (includes a north and a south channel)
As construction first began on the Big Chaudière south dam, only the north dam was available for water management.
The Little Chaudière Dam helped compensate for this loss during construction. The Little Chaudière Dam typically only operates in extreme cases. They include higher than normal discharge or critical periods like the Lake Nipissing drawdown (typically from October to March) or spring freshet (typically between March and May).
The next phase of construction used a similar strategy. The Portage and Little Chaudière dams helped compensate once construction started on the north dam.
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