Historic Sites of Manitoba: Kanuchuan Generating Station (Kanuchuan River, Northern Manitoba)
A hydro-electric generating station on the Kanuchuan River in northern Manitoba was constructed between 1934 and 1935, on a design by engineer William Gregory Chace, at a cost of about $546,000 for the Gods Lake Gold Mines Limited. A 1,100-foot-long channel excavated on the north bank of the Kanuchuan River routed water to a concrete and wood powerhouse designed to enclose up to three generating units, although only one unit was ever installed. The station provided up to 1,900 horsepower (about 1.4 megawatts) of electricity for transmission over a 42-mile line to a gold mine on Elk Island near the community of God’s Lake. A license to operate the station was issued to the Gods Lake Gold Mines Limited in October 1936.
Exhaustion of the ore body led to closure of the mine and its generating station in 1943. The company’s assets, including the generating station and transmission line, were sold in 1948 to Lingman Lake Gold Mines, later known as Twin Gold Mines Limited, which intended to use the station to power a mine in western Ontario. No development occurred and ownership of the infrastructure reverted to the Manitoba government when the company’s license expired in December 1975. In the mid-1960s, the generating station was examined by Manitoba Hydro and found to be “in operating condition, and although the spillway was partially washed out sometime after 1958, a small amount of power has been used locally at a fishing camp located just above the intake.”
At the time of a 2001 site visit, most of the river’s flow was bypassing the plant in a spillway channel although the powerhouse was intact and the generator was allegedly still spinning.
Photos & Coordinates
Kanuchuan Generating Station, Engineering Department, Manitoba Hydro, February 1966.
Twin Gold Mines Limited versus the Government of Manitoba, Court of Queen's Bench Suit No. 2364/76, 18 October 1984.
Kanuchuan Power Development, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba.
We thank Jim Collinson, Greg Dick, and Kyle Fountain for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Al Myska and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 25 July 2022