REMINISCENCES - Morris Barr
I began working at Des Joachims G.S. in the fall of 1946 working with Fraser Brace Diamond Drillers from Sudbury. Drilling an old river
bed at McConnell Lake. Hydro wanted the core from the rock, we hit rotten wood down forty feet below surface.
We worked all winter, housed in tents on the old Des Joachims Road. In the spring of 1947, the material and equipment arrived at Chalk River an had to be unloaded off the flat cars. Aluminum houses were moved to Rolphton and the materials to the dam site.
Then began erection of the cableway and two towers were built on each side of the river, with the direction of the Provincial Engineering Company. They lost one man.
Hydro erected the Bailey Bridges, this was done for use of a conveyor belt, to pour the concrete for the dam. I had just walked across the longest span of bridge and climbed down when it collapsed, six of my men drowned. I shall never forget that day and often ask myself why I was spared.
We set up another bridge on the ground exactly the same and tested it for wind and all other possible elements. Found no other problems, and built another without any trouble.
I also worked on sluice-gates for the dam, to raise the level of water to pour concrete. I did the same at McConnell Lake. Gantry Crane handled the gates, traveled back and forth across the dam when all was finished on both sides of the river, gates were torn down and sent to Lacave.
I stayed with Hydro until 1957.
REMINISCENCES - Harris Hawley
When I was a kid, we used to live on the old road going up by the Bonanza about half a mile from the main village. There were about eight houses within a mile, up the Dumoine Road. Hydro bought out anybody that lived in that comer. Hydro came to my dad and said, 'We're going to buy you out,' and he said, 'I don't want to sell.' Hydro said, 'You've gotta sell.' It was just an old log house and they gave us $800. This was in the fall and we had to be out in April, so we moved and rebuilt.
I worked for Ontario Hydro as a handyman during construction. It was a busy place during the dam construction. The first time I worked for them, I was on a little farm tractor and I had a helper with me. We used to go down to the spring and bring water around to the guys that were working all over. I'd bring lumber and nails for the carpenters and piping for the pipe fitters.
The second time, I worked at McConnell Lake crusher and I was there for about eight months. I drove a truck, and that was the big thing for us young lads. You got to sleep all day in the truck and drive around all night. You burnt more gas a night than you did on the job.
At Ontario Hydro, men were coming and going steady. You could quit today one place and you could go and get hired tomorrow at another place. Men were always getting fired or quitting or getting hired again.
We had the Colonial Bus Line come through the village here twice a day - to McConnell Lake, and through all the camps. If you wanted to, you could jump on the bus and go to Pembroke or North Bay.
The village had two little hotels. You didn't go in and buy one beer, you went in an you bought maybe six, then you went outside to drink it. We'd sit there and three or four guys would buy a case. It got pretty dark and some of these guys got pretty drunk, so you could always go and steal the odd beer.