Kemano River, Gardner Canal

Kemano River, Gardner Canal

by | Jul 7, 2019

The Kemano River flows from the Kitimat Ranges to Kemano Bay on the Gardner Canal about 47 miles (75 km) southeast of Kitimat, British Columbia. The Kemano generating station of the Nechako Diversion, which was built to supply power for an Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat, is located at the mouth of the Kemano River. The name Kemano is from a tribal subdivision of the Hanaksiala, part of the Haisla First Nation.

The company town of Kemano was originally built in the 1950s at the mouth of the Kemano River to service the construction and maintenance of the Kemano Generating Station, built in a blasted cavern 1,400 feet (427 m) inside the base of Mount Dubose. It produces 896 MW of power from eight generators, each of which has a capacity of 112 MW. When the power station was automated in 2000, the residents were moved out and the town was abandoned.

Between 1951 and 1954, about 6,000 construction workers were involved in building the hydroelectric project and smelter that included the Kenney Dam, diversion tunnels, powerhouse, transmission line, and townsites at Kemano and Kitimat. There was no road to Kemano and everything had to be brought in by air or sea. Construction equipment and supplies were barged over Tahtsa Lake to the eastern end of the diversion tunnel. The tunnel is 9.9 miles (16 km) long, and the width of a two-lane highway drilled and blasted through the coastal mountains to carry water to the penstocks of the Kemano powerhouse. Two 300 kV power transmission lines cross 51 miles (82 km) of the most rugged mountain territory from Kemano to Kitimat. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kemano River here:

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