Tag Archives: Prince Albert

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam

On Sunday I decided to take the family along the backroads to Prince Albert.  We explored the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Ascension, Fish Creek Church, and eventually the La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam east of Prince Albert.  Mark shot some video footage while there which you can see below.

Wendy wrote a little more about the day on her blog.

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam

Some photos from our hike to the La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam site which is abandoned dam project 45km downstream from Prince Albert on the North Saskatchewan River.

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Here is how CBC News described the project

An avid history buff is marking the 100th anniversary of the day the plug was pulled on a massive hydroelectric project that was started on the Saskatchewan River, north of Prince Albert, Sask.

What was launched as the La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Development instead became a multi-million dollar monument to lofty ambitions, and a financial millstone for Prince Albert taxpayers for decades to come.

"The dam was one-third finished, into the river," Paul Van Pul, a hydraulic archaeology surveyor who has written extensively on the La Colle blunder, said Tuesday. "They never managed to start building the power station."

According to Van Pul, who checked out the remnants of the project, there are only a few holes in the ground that could have been the start of foundation work for a power plant.

The unfinished dam, however, is a prominent — if odd-looking — feature on the river.

By the time the project was halted two years of construction work had gone into it and Prince Albert had spent $3 million, or about $62 million in today’s terms, adjusting for inflation using a Bank of Canada calculator.

"The project was, in fact, too big for the engineers from Prince Albert," Van Pul believes, when asked how it was that the plan was scrubbed. "They had to depend on the city engineer at the time who had no experience at all building such a big, complicated project."

The city was sold on a hydroelectric dam by the engineer who developed Niagara Falls. That expert, however, rarely checked in on how the La Colle venture was proceeding.

Van Pul said design changes, during construction, also added to the costs.

The burden of loans used to finance a project that was never completed nearly drove Prince Albert into bankruptcy, and it wasn’t until 1965 that the debt was paid off.

"P.A. never became the second-largest city of Saskatchewan just because of La Colle Falls," Van Pul believes.

"And the thing is, they almost got there," he added, wistfully.

Van Pul is hoping the concrete structure that remains is designated a heritage site.

"It’s a cautious reminder," he said, even as cities embark on large-scale projects today. "Something can go wrong and then we’re stuck with it for the next 50 years."

My week in review

On Sunday I decided to take the family to Waskesiu for the day.  We drove up through Prince Albert, past the Prince Albert Penitentiary and Riverbend Institution (Wendy was curious over where the Salvation Army has our prison barbecue) and then to Waskesiu (Mark thought we were headed to the cabin via Regina but in his defense, I had purchased him an issue of Transworld Skateboarding and he may not have noticed the forest through the many trees).

After eating at The Angry Taco, we wandered around the beach, did some shopping, and some exploring.  During most of the day, I had chest pains which I have had for months but had been telling myself, they were stress.  I have stress at work and for those of you who read Wendy’s blog, I have a lot of stress at home, depending on the state of her depression.  For the last month, I would walk the fifteen blocks home and be totally exhausted.  I have walked  back and forth from home to the Salvation Army hundreds of times and while I am walking up Caswell Hill, it isn’t as if I need to use climbing ropes for safety.  It’s a pretty tame climb.

On Monday morning I woke up with pain and I decided to go to Royal University Hospital’s Emergency Room to get it checked out.  I was hoping they would tell me it was stress but after my chest X-Ray, they told me it something more serious and I was being admitted.  So off to the 6000 ward I was sent with all of the other cardiology patients where I awaited my angiogram.  The first night was just annoying.  Wendy brought my noise cancelling headphones which makes sense but I sleep on my side so I knocked them off my head where I was greeted with snoring, snoring, and more snoring.  As soon I would fall asleep, I would knock off one of the heart monitor points which would sent a nurse scrambling in to see if I was dead and/or fix the points.  If I wasn’t doing that, I was rolling over and jamming my intravenous.  I was also woken up blood work techs and of course they needed to wake me for my blood pressure and temperature.  On top of that the blood thinner they gave me made me cold which all adds up to under two hours of sleep.  I don’t know why but in the silence of Monday night, I felt scared for the first time since Wendy was giving labour to Oliver.  Death has never bothered me that much but the idea of giving up on life prematurely because of stupid diet decisions and choices really bothered me.  My mom declined to have chemotherapy when she was dying of cancer because she didn’t want to go through it and I have always questioned that decision.  I don’t want Mark and Oliver to think, “Why didn’t Dad cut the McDonalds out of his diet and choose to be with us for some more years?”  I felt quite disappointed in myself.

Tuesday was spent waiting.  I saw my cardiologist and other doctors who lectured me on my diet and weight.  Fair enough.  The other thing that hit me was they were on me because of how high my cholesterol and blood pressure was which was news to me.  They put me on Lipitor for probably the rest of my life and also Ramipril to help me deal with high blood pressure.   Wendy had to work Tuesday night so I was chilling out reading Fareed Zakaria’s The Post American World Release 2.0 when Cam Broten came by and chatted politics and life for a bit.  The best part of the visit was he brought up The Economist and a fantasy football magazine.  The next day this doctor comes in and looks at my reading material and says, “No wonder you are in here, you can’t relax reading The Economist”  He picks it up and sees the football magazine and then without batting an eye goes, “Should I pick Manning as my QB with the neck problems or Brady with Ochocinco?”  Apparently global economic stress is bad while NFL fantasy league stress is good.  That’s why I am not a doctor.

Wednesday morning I was in for my angiogram.  They found a lesion on my heart as well as two partially blocked arteries and some blockage in another one.  The most concerning were the two arteries that are partially blocked as they aren’t bad enough to deal with.  Those mean that I need a drastic change to deal with or schedule myself a series of heart attacks, by-passes, and strokes in the coming years.

After having a 40 minute heart ultrasound and nurses tearing away connection point after connection point off my body, I was allowed to return home where I hung out with the boys before I fell asleep.  My right arm was useless as that is the artery they chose to get to my heart which resulted in some spilled milk but we survived as a family.  Mark fired up Netflix and showed Wendy the Arrested Development where GOB is CEO and going on and on about how much his suit cost.  At the hospital he goes to Wendy, “C’mon, I’m the guy in a $3700 t-shirt and you want me to get you a pop?!”.  It’s even funnier now that Wendy gets what he was talking about.  Even Oliver is going, “C’mon, look at my pants”.

Today I went to Indigo and bought a couple of cookbooks.  One is on eating Heart Smart, the other one was The Vegetarian Bible.  We have the Mayo Clinic cookbook and some other heart healthy eating books so I have some choices.  Low cholesterol diets can be summed up with one word, bland.  I had a chicken fajita tonight and they weren’t bad which is kind of pathetic but that is how food will be defined now.   After that I stopped by work to chat and after 30 minutes of that, I was too tired to wander over to the other side of the building.  Wendy drove me home (I can’t drive for a couple of days) and I have just been exhausted all day.  My proudest accomplishment has been writing this post and doing some dishes.  Other than that I have been sleeping and resting.  Oh yeah, thinking.  I have been thinking a lot as well.

Off to Prison

I posted a little bit about the day over at the Centre’s weblog but I thought I would post some more thoughts here.

Each summer the Centre puts on a big barbecue at Riverbend Institution.  Last year I was asked to go along and four of us headed up north to Prince Albert to cook and meet some of the guys who are at Riverbend.  For many of the guys who are there, they are on their way out of the federal prison system and Riverbend is one of their last stops until they get to a federal half way house.  In addition to this, some guys don’t do that great in a halfway house and are sent back and we have a chance to catch up with them.

Last year I took some photos.  They were cool with it as I wasn’t taking photos of the guys there, just us setting up.  Below is a photo of the four of us smoking out all of Saskatchewan Penitentiary.
Salvation Army BBQ at Riverbend Institution
This year they had us in a different location and there were always guys around helping so I never took any photos out of respect for the rules and the guys there (and let’s be honest, I was in the middle of a federal prison and I wanted to get out at the end of the night) but we had a lot of fun and yes there was  a lot of smoke this year as well.

According to our two host chaplains, we had 130 guys come to the barbecue.  About 20 of them were early enough to help us set up and over 50 of them swarmed around and helped clean up.  While it was a lot of work to put on, I was told to take a seat in one of the adirondack chairs while clean up was going on.

While last year was a lot of fun, this year I was a little more comfortable with the guys which made it a more enjoyable event for me personally.  Several of the guys came up and told me how much they appreciated the chaplaincy of the Major and several guys passed on greetings to the staff back at the Centre and even greetings for Wendy and Oliver.  While they may be frustrated at themselves, their Parole Officers, and the system, they still like us and it is good to hear stories of them getting back on track.

It was a nice trip and I look forward to coming back next year.