A Big Job for Small Rivers

J. L. RUTLEDGE July 15 1922

A Big Job for Small Rivers

J. L. RUTLEDGE July 15 1922

A Big Job for Small Rivers


TRAVELLERS in the Maritime provinces will remember it as a country of little streams, cool-looking and vigorous, hurrying along between deeply-wooded banks. They will remember it as a country of opening vistas, of blue lakes seen between gaps in the trees. Lakes and rivers everywhere, bearing a suggestion of fishing, and of summering in their cool depths, but certainly carrying no suggestion of concealed power, no hidden implication of untold force that might some day turn the myriad wheels of industry.

There you have the general impression that the water resources of the Maritimes have had on the casual visitor. They have had the same impression for the life long “down Easterner.” They have not thought of them in terms of power. They have almost invariably thought of them in terms of fishing. There are no great waterfalls with their open suggestion of latent energy, there is nothing of the dramatic in the forces of nature that maybe developed to man’s ends. Therefore it is that the Maritime provinces, which were the first of all the provinces to appreciate the value of water power—for the first water mill in 'Canada was located in Nova Scotia—have yet been the last to appreciate its modern development, Hydro Electric energy.

The solid conservatism, that has been one of the great strengths of the provinces down by the sea— has been one of the factors in retarding progress in this line. But that feeling is rapidly giving way to a substantial and energetic support of a growing program of Hydro Electric development.

There has been electric energy developed in the past, largely by great lumbering industries for their own use, but these have generally been at places where there is some small fall of water to make the project easy. Possibly in all the Maritime provinces Grand Falls, on the St. John river, is the only power site that would suggest itself as such to the casual observer. But Grand Falls lies off the beaten track, far from any immediate market, and it must therefore await some material forward move on the part of the pulp industry, before it becomes a large factor in the Hydro Electric developments of the provinces.

As a matter of fact the whole electric development of the Maritimes is based on the fact that more rain falls than runs away; that the “run-off” has never equalled the fall. People looking at some of the streams and lakes in the dry season and seeing the meagre trickle of water, shake their heads sadly at any suggestion of developing Hydro Electric power from such a source and look upon the suggestion with a measure of commise 'ation.

Power in the Trickle?

rIS easy enough to see just why the innovation of Hydro Electric power was slow to catch the public interest.

It did not look feasible. They and the visitors to the country were ready to see possibilities in the enormous tide rise in the Bay of Fundy, or in the reversing falls at St. John or even in the Bore at Moncton; they all looked like power, but those trickles of rivers, certainly they did not seem to suggest anything but speckled trout or gaspereau.

Of course, in addition to this general lack of interest, there was the fact that local interests controlled many of these Hydro facilities, and there was no machinery of government to secure these advantages for the general public benefit. It was not until 1914 that an act was passed in Nova Scotia creating the Water Power Commi; sion. This was a marked step forward but even then, it did not suggest any

comprehensive scheme of development. It was not indeed until 1919 that the Nova Scotia Powei Commission was inaugurated, and almost a year later, that a similar commission was appointed in New Brunswick. These appointments marked the beginning of active Hydro Electric developments in the provinces by the Atlantic. According to this new regulation virtually all water rights are vested in the Commissions. They must of course meet the necessities of such industries asthelumbering, that may need to run their logs down the river. But these rights, while inherent in the nature of ’ this industry, are supervised by the commissions whose duties include the conservation of existing water resources.

It is to be remembered that, the Hydro Electric development in the Maritimes is not a question of waterfalls, but of water sheds, a question of rainfall and storage basin rather than of roaring torrents. It is essential that the “run-off” should be limited as far as possible. For that reason the appointment of the Hydro Commissions, and the legislation that gave these commissions wide powers over all the available water sources of the provinces, was a wise and far-seeing step.

Some Stern Opposition

IT MAY well be some time before the people, as a whole, will realize how wise a step this was, for it must be admitted that, the development has made way against very

decided opposition. There have been other factors, however, that have contributed to this result. The issue in the two instances where it has taken concrete form involved the relationship of the municipality to some private interests. As a result the Hydro issue has not heen fought out. entirely on its own merits, but on these merits related to the merits or demerits of the private corporation. This has resulted in the question becoming a very definite civic issue in both St. John and Halifax, where in the one instance it w as the Hydro issue put in opposition to the New Brunsw ick Powrer Company and in the other the question as to whether the Hydro Com-

“mission should deal directly ¡with the Tramway Company as the logical purchaser of a large amount cf their power. ¡But the divergence of opinion ‘brought about by these clashes has at least served to focus the 'public attention on the Hydro Electric issue. The public in, 'ertia which to the present has f been one of the greatest stumbling blocks has become a [thing of the past. The public has had the, opportunity of seeing for itself the project, visualized in the Musquash River Development in New Brunswick, St. Margaret’s Bay in Nova Scotia, and the Montague development in Prince _ Edward Island.

It has not, of course, brought about an united opinion, but it has brought forth a very general interest. Go to St. John, where the city is obligated to the Musquash project and you will meet sober-minded men who will tell you that the thing cannot, possibly operate, certainly not the year through; they see disorganization and enorwho would stake

t heir reputations as members of the Rotary Club, or as bang-up bridge players, that this Musquash project will do everything but feed the people. Of course the truth is somewhere in between, but the saving feature of the case is that people are talking and thinking electrical development, and once these projects have had time to demonstrate their seaworthiness, so to speak, then the public will be ready to take advantage of the splendid Hydro

resources of the provinces.

Will It Work All Year?

''HE one great argument that is raised by all opponents of Hydro Electric power, and it is not a negl igible faction, is that, there is not on any of t hese ers a year-long head of water that will provide continuous power. Here that

unless you have waterfalls you haven t power.

In the Maritimos there are few waterfalls, hut

there is plenty of water. It is the bulk of water

Continuai on page 46

A Bi^ Job for Small Rivers

Continued from page 15

stored in these various lakes that opens up a wide field of development.

The problem in the Maritimes is to develop a reserve supply to carry over the possible seasons of drought. For many years past, the Dominion Government has maintained rain gauges on almost all the streams in the provinces. Figuring these calculations over a period of years, it is possible to get absolutely definite data as to just how much water is available. With this, and with the knowledge of the average “run-off,” it is possible to establish beyond any reasonable doubt, whether there is an available water supply or not. That has been definitely established. There is the water lying in sheltered lakes hidden away among the forest trees, water sufficient to meet any emergency of prolonged drought. That much is surely known.

It is known too, that, while there are no spectacular waterfalls, most of these lakes lie well above the tide water level. One hundred, two hundred, five hundred feet maybe, sufficient anyway to turn turbine wheels and to develop all the power that may be needed. It is a matter then of conserving the “run-off” and of using these myriad lakes as storage basins, against the time of drought. It is a comparatively simple process, the damming of river outlets, the diverting of tributary streams, so that instead of dissipating their energy, they go to feed this reservoir of future power. It is merely a comprehensive scheme of conservation of water that can harm no one or no interest, that provides an assured source of power, for the average rain fall over a period of years is a known and constant quantity. One year may see a drought, butin a period of, say, ten years there is no drought that would not be offset by an overplus of rain.

There is certainly no necessity for any precipitous fall. The stranger visiting the site of the St. Margaret’s Bay project before the scheme was undertaken would certainly have had no idea that power could be developed from the noisy little stream that wended its way into beautiful St. Margaret’s Bay. It came hurrying down over an old mill weir, an insignificant looking trickle most of the year. Even now, with the great ten-foot pipe of wood staves climbing up the small hill for ninety-one feet, it gives a touch of the bizzarre but little indication of power. It is more like a great lethargic serpent sprawled over the landscape but it turns two great turbines down there at tidewater. More than that, it is to be remembered that the volume of water that has found its way down this huge conduit has already given its toll of power. For back of Mill Lake, that is the storage basin of the tidewater plant, is another great pipeline, 3,500 feet in length, that climbs up another 156 feet, and is fed by a series of lakes and streams, up in the hills beyond, that are made tributary by damming here and diverting there so that it is unthinkable that water should ever be lacking to turn these great wheels.

A Market for it AÍ!

IT IS astriking point about this development, that there is an assured market for the 10,700 horse power at present developed. It therefore starts) under unusually favorable auspices, while further demands that may arise will be met by the opening of another plant that is already provided for and indeed partially completed. That will give approximately 15,000 horse power. So also the Musquash River development that in character is identical with St. Margaret’s Bay, has its assured market in St. John, while lines are being extended to Truro and Moncton,so that a market for power from any further development at Musquash, is amply assured.

That is the striking characteristic of all the accomplished work, as it is also of many of the potential power sites; they have awaiting for them a present and assured market. For instance, East River, Sheet Harbour, that is estimated at 15,000 h.p. capacity, will serve Truro and Pictou county. Bear River will serve Yarmouth and Middleton, while there are a number of smaller power sites that will take up the burden when these possible developments have reached their

limit. The Mushamush river is capable of supplying the needs of half a dozen towns in South Eastern Nova Scotia. The development on the Liverpool River, one of the largest power sites in Nova Scotia, that it is estimated will develop

80.000 h.p., awaits the advent of some industry requiring considerable power. Already a pulp mill is there, developing its own Plydro power, but only a fraction of the energy available is used. It would seem that the further development of this industry would be the logical course. The same conditions apply to certain other of the power sites. There is a mutual inter-relation between this power development and commerce. For manufacturing, commerce alone can supply the need for further power, while cheap power alone can make the development of these industries possible. There is however, in the development of the great pulp industry a potentiality difficult to overestimate.

Plenty of Power for N.B.

T N NEW BRUNSWICK the situation is -l similar. There have been a number of smaller developments mainly by private concerns. Campbellton, Newcastle and Chatham either are, or will be, supplied by the development on the Nepisiguit River, that can be doubled and quadrupled as the need arises by the harnessing of neighboring power streams. Fredericton and Woodstock can be served by development of the power sites on the Shogomac, and Pokiok Rivers. St. John is, of course, cared for by the finished Musquash development.

The development in New Brunswick was actually inaugurated by private interests to serve private industries. Prior to 1919 the Maine and N.B. Power Company, situated a couple of miles across the border, was virtually the only Hydro Electric power company in the province. Shortly after the Fraser Company developed Hydro power to serve its own mills at Edmunston and Madawaska, and the Bathurst Company on the Nepisiguit.

Grand Falls, the great power site of the province, is so far distant from any immediate market that only the development of the pulp or some similar industry in the neighborhood would make its development advisable.

As matters now stand, in its main power sites New Brunswick has 137,500 horse power available, with roughly 28,500 developed, Nova Scotia has 263,000 horse power available with some 31,200 developed. Prince Edward Island has some

3.000 horse power with 1,729 developed. These figures apply only to the known and estimated power resources of the provinces. Government records establish the serviceable character of these resources and, with so'much yet unused, it has not been necessary to figure on the possible development of the myriad of smaller streams, each of which has its potential value. The figures, however, are sufficient to indicate the wide opportunity that exists for Hydro Electric development in the Maritimes.

Some Personalities

WATER power development in the Maritimes has had no outstanding leader such as there has been in Ontario. Whatever the judgment on the work of Sir Adam Beck, his has’ certainly been a figure to catch the public

interest, but there is no such figure in the history of development in the east. The progress has resulted from considered action by the various governments, who have fostered the scheme despite the lack of interest and even in some instances antagonism of the people at large. In New Brunswick, Premier Foster has been a strong champion, and has succeeded in carrying his government with him on this point. C.O. Foss, the chief engineer of the project in that province, is a striking figure, because advancing years have failed to curb either his energy or his untiring enthusiasm, that have been in no small measure responsible for the successful culmination of the Musquash project.

In Nova Scotia, the Hon. A. H. Armstrong, Minister of Public Works and Mines, and chairman of the Nova Scotia Power Commission, has been one of the dominant figures. Premier Murray has given the weight of his support, and has to a large extent assured the united support of the Executive Council. Aside from these men, K. H. Smith, chief Engineer of the Nova Scotia Power Commission, and Dominion Water Power Engineer, has probably been the most energetic advocate of Hydro Electric development. A young man, thoroughly conversant with the possibilities of the situation, both from his services with the Dominion Water Power Branch, and from his experiences in the West, where the conditions'of development are not dissimilar, he has by his enthusiasm and energy, his foresight, and outstanding administrative ability contributed largely to the development. Not only was this the case in Nova Scotia but in New Brunswick as well, for his services were made available to the sister province, and were gratefully acknowledged by Premier Foster.

It has been a case of the works of several men, rather than the personality of one, being responsible for the change of public sentiment. For the accomplished fact has done more than anything else to turn public sentiment in favor of Hydro Electric development.

What It Means for the Future

THERE has not, up to the present, been any material development of manufacturing interests in the Maritime provinces. Much of its raw materials have left the province in their natural state to be fabricated elsewhere, and this despite the striking fact that the Maritime provinces are most strategically situated to take advantage of the opportunity of the moment.

The world war brought about a disorganization of the established fields of trade. Europe, the great buyer of the past, has ceased to be a buyer, because Europe is a creditor everywhere. South America, that gained much profit by the war and suffered virtually not at all, is stepping out as the great purchasing centre of the future. The South American states are the great markets of the future and are nearer to the Maritimes’ ports than to any other source. Goods manufactured at the seaboard would start with an overwhelming advantage. They are at the seaboard and with only water transportation charges before them. That would seem to be the great future of the Maritime provinces, in a material sense, and that future is being made possible by the Hydro Electric development of the provinces, because cheap power has always been a basic factor in export business.

This, then, is the big job for small rivers, to provide that creative energy that will open up these beckoning markets to the manufacturers of the East.