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Alcan Project History

The Reservoir

The damming of the Nechako River would create a 92,000-hectare reservoir. Those in the way of the rising water had to move. The homesteaders along the north shore of Ootsa Lake accepted a settlement from the Aluminum Company of Canada. The First Nation Cheslatta T’en accepted $7.4 million in 1993 from the Government of Canada as a settlement for inadequate compensation in 1952.

Environmental impact studies were conducted on the fisheries in the Bulkley-Nechako region. 80,000 Acres of treed shoreline and white sand beaches lost to the floodwaters caused Pierre Burton to comment “Tweedsmuir Park has paid the price of progress.” (Maclean’s Magazine, 1958).

The Nechako River Grand Canyon was dammed with rock fill - the most economical method of construction. The engineers created the third-largest rock-filled dam in the world towering 325 feet, measuring 1,500 feet at the base, and 40 feet at the top. It contains about 4 million yards of material – rock, gravel, and clay. The rock was transported by truck – the nearest quarry being several miles away.

The Nechako Reservoir started to fill in October 1952, and with the completion of the Kenney Dam in 1954, a 145-mile long expanse of water covering 339 square miles was created.