Damming the Metis River
Les Amis des Jardins de Métis Collection
The Metis River was dammed to produce hydroelectricity. Local entrepreneur Jules A. Brillant formed the Lower St. Lawrence Power Company (Compagnie de Pouvoir du Bas-Saint-Laurent) and assembled investors from Rimouski to purchase the falls from Elsie Reford and build a dam above the falls. The turbine, with a production capacity of 2.75 megawatts, went into service on October 22, 1922 and was opened on July 1, 1923 to great pomp and ceremony in the presence of local clergy and notables. The company became the most important supplier of hydroelectricity to the region. It developed a network of transmission lines to provide power to local businesses, farms and consumers in Matane, Mont-Joli and Rimouski and beyond.
Unable to meet debt repayments in 1926, Brillant lost control of the company but re-purchased his interest in 1935. He became the most successful of the region’s entrepreneurs with an empire that included telephone (Québec-Téléphone), newspapers, radio and railways and other businesses.
A second turbine was added in 1930 with a capacity of 3 megawatts. Brillant used his political and persuasive powers to purchase the lower stretch of the river from Elsie Reford in 1942. A second dam (now called Mitis-2) was built below the first power station and upriver from the Pont Bergeron. It was completed in July, 1947.
With the electrification of farms and the rising consumption of electricity driven by the availability of the first generation of household appliances, demand increased and the company flourished.
The Compagnie de Pouvoir du Bas-Saint-Laurent was one of the many private power utilities that was purchased in 1963 by the government of Québec as part of the nationalization of hydroelectricy and integrated into Hydro-Québec.