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Chapter 16: Water Resources

16.11: St. Andrews Dam and Lock

All the dams illustrated in figures 16.1 to 16.10 were constructed, at least in part, to retain water for domestic, agricultural, or municipal use. But the St. Andrews Dam 1 across the northward-flowing Red River 2 was built between 1900 and 1910 primarily to allow river transport between Winnipeg (to the south) and Lake Winnipeg (to the north). The Lister Rapids on the Red River had hindered boat travel along the river since the time of the fur trade. The dam is one of only three camere-style removable structures in the world, the other two being on the Seine River in France. The design of the dam involved ingenuity, because a permanent dam structure would have caused ice jams during the spring leading to flooding upstream. The dam features “the French camere curtain design [that] uses wooden curtains to control water levels. The hinged slats of Douglas fir roll up and down as a blind does.”[i] The curtain is placed in the water during the navigation season and removed during the winter. A lock at the west end 3 allows boats to bypass the dam. Over the years commercial traffic between Winnipeg and Lake Winnipeg has declined, but the lock is still used by pleasure craft. A bridge deck was added to the dam in 1913 and now carries PTH 44 4 across the river linking west 5 and east 6 Lockport. Also the dam provides an artificial summer water level in the city of Winnipeg, the benchmark elevation for many structures along the river. There is good fishing for walleye and record-sized catfish in the rapidly flowing water below the dam 7. Note also, this area along the Red River is divided according to the French long lot system resulting in long narrow fields running back from the river 8 with houses at the narrow ends of fields in strip developments along roads running parallel to the river 9. The photograph was taken before construction of the Red River Floodway that enters the Red just downstream from the dam.

Figure 16.11: St. Andrews Dam and Lock

Figure 16.11: St. Andrews Dam and Lock

Figure 16.11

Vertical air photograph: A11911-305

Flight height: 9,350 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.4 mm

Scale: 1:17,000 (very approx.)

Date: May 24, 1949

Location of the west end of the dam 50º 05'N; 96º 56'W

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62I Selkirk

                    1:50,000 62I/2 Selkirk


[i] Lebrecht, S. Trans Canada Trail Manitoba. Ottawa: Canadian Geographic Enterprises, 2003, 266.