Manitoba has an abundant supply of surface water with many large lakes and thousands of smaller ones (chapter 2). However, much of the water is in the north or drains to the north where there is a sparse population. In the south dams and reservoirs have been constructed to conserve water in some areas, whereas in other places projects were designed to drain water from the land to make it suitable for cultivation. The province’s rivers offered enormous potential for hydroelectric power, much of which has now been exploited, starting with a small-scale project on the Little Saskatchewan River and progressing to large projects on the Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Nelson rivers. Two thermal power stations at Brandon and Selkirk on the Assiniboine and Red rivers illustrate the need for an assurred water supply. Flooding has been a problem since the earliest days of the province, especially along the Assiniboine and Red rivers culminating in the 1997 “Flood of the Century” in the Red River Valley. Dams, diversions and ring dikes are used to divert the floodwaters to less critical areas.
One of the main values of keeping old photographs is that they preserve records of things that have disappeared. This 1947 photo shows the Ten Mile Dam 1[i] on the Little Saskatchewan River 2 just above its junction with the eastward-flowing Assiniboine River 3. The dam backed up a reservoir 4 in the Little Saskatchewan Valley, but it emptied when the dam was washed away in 1948. The dam was the location of the first hydroelectric power station in Manitoba. It supplied electricity to Brandon during the summer months between 1901 and 1930.
Figure 16.25: The Ten Mile Dam on the Little Saskatchewan River
Vertical air photograph: A11041-202
Flight height: 9,520 feet; lens focal length: 6 inches
Scale: 1:16,200 (approx.)
Date: May 19, 1947
Location: Township 10 and 11; Range 20WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62F Virden
1:50,000 62F/16 Alexander
[i] Ten miles is the distance from Brandon.