A Brief History
Old Pinawa Dam Heritage Park
-- Part II --
From the time construction started in 1903, the work progressed year-round.
Southeast corner of the dam during early construction -
June 3, 1905
The Spillway is on the left,
centre left is the log and ice chute. Debris and ice that got too close to
the dam were pushed down the chute. The penstocks that hold the water
and the turbines, are visible on the right.
Construction at the Pinawa Dam - June 14, 1905
The dam at Pinawa was built on a channel that contained water only at times
of high water on the Winnipeg River. To allow more water to pass through, the
channel had to be widened and dredged. Since much of the Channel had granite
rock outcroppings, the rock had to be blasted. The debris was removed from the
channel bed and piled beside the channel. You can see examples of this at the
Diversion Dam (the old Control Dam) at the end of Highway 211 near the present-day
town of "new" Pinawa.
W. H. Leroy, who worked as a rigger during construction, said:
"Rock drilling was done by tripod steam drills. Steam was supplied by boilers
set on skids and moved from one location to another by the riggers. Hoist and
cableway engineers were trained as required. When derricks or heavy equipment
had to be moved some distance, they were set on skids and pulled by teams,
assisted by block and tackle or by using the steam hoist when possible".
"Moving heavy loads such as transformers, generators and turbine parts was
slow and costly. It was customary to build a rail line from the storage shed to
the powerhouse. The piece to be moved was jacked up, rails slipped underneath,
and the load hauled into place by block and tackle and horses."
The construction camp at the Pinawa Dam
North view of the Powerhouse and Transformer House
Powerhouse construction from the east
The Pinawa Hydro Dam cost over $3,000,000.00 to build, and one third of that
cost was for the concrete dams. During the winter, the aggregate was warmed
before mixing with the cement so that it would not freeze while it cured in the