Thursday, 23 August 2012

CAMERON FALLS 1943 the words

From Hydro News September 1943
The hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario
Page eight

The Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

This is the article that goes with the photos published as the previous post lists.


Cameron Falls has something more than the wild, rugged beauty associated with Ontario's far-flung northern hinterland where black, cool waters dance and tumble through an interlacing maze of colourful woodland.

Although many miles from the noisy hustle and bustle of populated centres, Cameron Falls has a generating plant and a self-contained Hydro community in which Hydro employees work, dwell and play.

In this community, the visitor meets 40 of these employees whose combined service with Hydro in this remote area totals approximately 450 years. Ten have been at Cameron Falls for over 15 years and 27 have served over ten years.

These employees along with their wives and families number about 150.

In such a settlement one might expect to find log cabins or cottages with limited amenities and conveniences. The Hydro community at Cameron Falls is nothing like that. It is a trim, well-planned and inviting area of more than 30 up-to-date frame and stucco homes, whose tenants enjoy all the conveniences and public services of city dwellers.


It is a place where hot and cold water are available at the turn of a modern tap; where the housewife cooks on an electric range, stores food in an up-to-date electric refrigerator and washes clothes in an electric washer; where hubby makes the hardwood floors shine, stokes the furnace and tends his victory and flower gardens.

At Cameron Falls you'll also find the Hydro store and post office where smiling John Sutherland makes up orders of groceries, meat, toilet and other articles and exchanges witty repartee with his customers. When it is necessary to make deliveries, the horse and waggon, which are used in delivering milk every morning, make the rounds at certain times.

There's also a school at Cameron Falls and, as the children will tell you, "two swell teachers." Yes, they have a "school board". The members are W. M. Foster, chairman, and  R.G. Whitehead, who  are both operators, and J.P.Maley, a mechanic.

When there are "big doings" or a dance in the settlement, all paths lead to the community hall. This hall is also used as a place of worship, services being conducted every few weeks by a visiting minister or priest.

Right in the centre of the community - in what might be called "The Square" - is a large, well-equipped staff house which was erected in 1925. Inside, the visitor will discover shining hardwood floors, spic and span appointments, comfortable bedrooms, a large dining room, a lounge room, billiard room and two guest rooms. He will also find a homelike atmosphere in which Mr. and Mrs. James E. Arnold, cook and housekeeper respectively, spread good food and good cheer.


The homes which are occupied by the employees and their families are modern, spacious and well-planned and are comparable to many up-to-date city homes. The trim, attractive flower gardens reflect the keen interest which the employees take in horticulture, while the community is also playing its full part in growing vegetables for victory.

Recreational facilities include a fine tennis court and an area for horse shoe pitching, while there's no "better 'ole" for swimming than the Fraser creek, which is more like a river.

There are many more interesting facts about this community. For instance coal is brought in by the carload and purchased at cost by the employees who may also purchase or cut their own wood. Power and equipment is provided for sawing the wood and a nominal charge is made for hauling.

The community is organized and equipped to fight any outbreak of fire. In each of the eight boxes spotted throughout the compact settlement are a hydrant and hose of sufficient length to cover the houses in the section. W.J. Malcolm, utility foreman, is the fire chief, and Arthur Stanzell is the assistant fire chief.

A PBX dial telephone system assures communication between all sections of the generating plant and the homes of the key employees, while there is also a telephone line which links the community with Port Arthur.

L.G. Dandeno, superintendent of Hydro's Thunder Bay System, is mayor, chief of police, war campaign organizer and counsellor for the community. "This area," he told Hydro News, "is entirely free from crime."

He pointed out that Cameron Falls is actually unorganized territory and is under provincial police protection.


A native of Waterloo County, Mr. Dandeno has been stationed at Cameron Falls for 20 years. He retains interesting memories of his early school days at Hespler and Galt, his course at Toronto normal School, the time he taught school and the years spent at the University of Toronto where he graduated in electrical engineering. His eyes light up and twinkle when he finally admits that he did play professional lacrosse as a young man. His hobbies now are gardening, boating, reading and "fixing things round the house."

Mr. Dandeno has one son, who is in the navy, and three daughters.

The Hydro community over which he presides took root some 23 years ago with the completion of the Cameron Falls generating plant, a mighty and imposing structure on the Nipigon River. Mr. Dandeno recalls that when he went to this plant in 1923, it had two generators, a total capacity of 25,000 horsepower and one transmission line to Port Arthur. Today there are six generators, with a total capacity of 75,000 horsepower. In 1930, the nearby Alexander Landing plant was placed in service. Operated by remote control from Cameron Falls, this plant has three generators with a combined capacity of 54,000 horsepower. The Thunder Bay System served by these two developments embraces Port Arthur, Fort William and surrounding farming communities as well as Nipigon township and the Beardmore and Geraldton mining areas. When the line from Port Arthur to Steep Rock is completed, 325 miles of 110 kv. transmission line will be in service in the Thunder Bay system.


The Cameron Falls plant, Mr. Dandeno stated, was placed in service on December 20, 1920, and the first four homes were ready for the first families to move in by the summer of the following year.

A man who can claim the distinction of being a pioneer of the community and who is the oldest employee in point of service still on the job at Cameron Falls is C.B. Montgomery, the chief operator, who went there on October 6, 1920.

A native of Cardinal Ontario, Mr. Montgomery started with the Ontario Power Company in 1910, while his service with Hydro now totals 26 years. one of his two daughters was born after he went to Cameron Falls.

Other key employees at Cameron Falls include H.D. Booker, electrical maintenance supervisor for the Thunder Bay system; H.J. Pattersen, mechanical maintenance supervisor; G.V. Knisley, line maintenance supervisor; W.J. Malcolm, utility foreman; E.B. Coggin, chief clerk; and L.G. Edwards, chief operator at the Alexander Landing plant.

This Hydro community also has  a broadcasting station which stands at the top of one of the slopes overlooking "The Square". It's not listed on any of the networks, however, for its serves only for shortwave communications between Cameron Falls, Toronto, Long Lac and key points in the Ogoki diversion area. The operator is W.J. Skrynski, who transmits and receives messages daily.

For a good many years Cameron Falls was more or less isolated, Mr. Dandeno told Hydro News. He stated that it was in 1927, the first automobile appeared in the community - a 1925 Chevrolet, driven by the late Wally Watts, a mechanic, who died three years ago. At that time there was only a tortuous road leading into Cameron Falls, but in 1929 the present highway was built and it is now possible to drive to Port Arthur in about two hours.

Hydro's own railway line links Cameron Falls with the stop on the C.N.R. line and the plant at Alexander Landing. The small gas car operated on this line, can carry six passengers, mail and small consignments of freight. When a transformer or other piece of heavy equipment have to be moved from the plant to the railway stop, the Hydro "locomotive" and a railway freight car are used. Although small and quaint in appearance, this gas-powered engine does an efficient job.


While much might be written about the wild, and rugged grandeur of the country in the vicinity of Cameron Falls, and Alexander Landing, there is another colourful and impressive spectacle which invariably fascinates and holds the attention of visitors: that is the driving of thousands of logs down the Nipigon River, over the dam at Cameron Falls and down the log chute at Alexander Landing.

Above the dam, the drivers with their long spiked poles guide the masses of  floating timber toward an open sluice-way. A each log nears the dam, it steadily gathers momentum until it is caught in the surging flow of rushing water. As they sweep over the dam, the logs almost disappear into a foaming mass of green and white spray. For a moment they rise high above the boiling, swirling river and are then carried on their way to Lake Superior.

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