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.
The Ten Mile Dam on the Little Saskatchewan River was the first hydroelectric plant in Manitoba. This ground photo taken looking upstream shows water running over the spillway to the left. A building on the right housed the power generating equipment. The plant began operating and supplying Brandon with electricity in 1901. However, it did not operate in winter and was supplemented by a steam plant on Tenth Street. By about 1920 the steam plant had been expanded and the hydro plant closed[i]. The dam was washed out by high discharge created by a thunderstorm in 1948.
Figure 16.26: The Ten Mile Dam on the Little Saskatchewan River (Ground Level Photo)
Manitoba Hydro: 1913 (approx.)
Location: Township 10; Range 20 WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62F Virden
1:50,000 62F/16 Alexander
[i] Information from L. A. Stuckey, Brandon.