THE MARMORA DAM & GENERATING STATION

 
Marmora Herald December 13, 1989
 The following brief history of the Marmora Dam was presented to Marmora council by Crowe Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA) member Jack Grant at their last regular meeting.

Plan 307 dated sept 31 (not Sept30) 1901 - Note position of dam

At the turn of the century, the Pearce and Pearce Lumber Company constructed the Marmora Dam to provide power for a saw mill, a planning mill and a hydro operation. The original dam was located about 200 feet upstream of the present dam and was a timber crib structure. In 1930, the crib workers were replaced with concrete spillways at the west end of the dam structure. This spillway had five openings, each of which were 14 feet wide. The west spillway was separated from the centre sluice way by a gravity wall (which was over-topped during the "one in 100 years" flood in the spring of 1976.) The centre sluice way, before construction, had one opening which was 10 feet wide.Even with all the stop logs in place, a considerable amount of water was passing through, under and around the sluice way through major clefts in the bedrock. The east section contained one sluice way which is about 20 feet wide.

In February, 1950, the Pearce Company holdings were purchased by Mr. Earl, J.Armstrong for $45,000. In 1958, the Crowe Valley Conservation Authority was established, and 1.3 acres of land was expropriated from the Village of Marmora and the CNR, creating an access to the dam for repairs and renovations. The next year, a new steel and concrete deck was placed over the west sluice way. The piers were refinished and a grouting program was attempted in order to alleviate massive seepage under and around the dam. The grouting program, however, did not prove successful due to the fast flowing water.

Donald Dougall,  8 yr old drowns

Donald Dougall

Covered Bridge on the original dam with Jane Almira Pearce,  Bessie Pearce and Frank Pearce

Note St. Mtilda's in the background with iron cross.  This cross is now located at Sacred Heart R.C. Church in Marmora

Lois Bedore Died While
Swimming in Crowe River 1952

A tragedy took place Sunday
evening when Lois Faye Bedore,
youngest daughter of Mrs. Wilbert Bedore and the late Mr. Bedore, passed away while swimming. She was an expert swimmer and enjoyed the pastime. She was in the water alone at the time, at the bathing beach just below the bridge over No. 7 Highway and no other swimmers were around at the time.

It is reported one or two people saw her in the water, but knowing how well she could swim did not pay any attention.  No one knows when she went down but when she did not return home for supper her mother became alarmed and started out to look for her. When she could not be found a search was started.

Violet Deacon at the dam

Dragging operations were
started and continued throughout
the night and all day Monday, except for a short time in the afternoon when the wind became too strong. Others searched the shores but no trace of the missing girl was found during the day.
A plane from Trenton, with a
mechanical device by which it was possible to see into the water, also joined in the search for a while about noon. The search was resumed early Monday evening and about 10:30 o'clock the body was found in about ten feet of water lying on a ledge of rock near a deep hole.
Several boats were close to the spot at that time. Among those around when the body was found was Jack Hickey, Joseph Darrah, Lorne Gawley, , her brother Clayton and a number of others.
Marmora Herald
September 4, 1952
 

 

Crowe River,  Covered bridge over dam,  Jane Almira Pearce,  Bessie Pearce and Frank Pearce

In April of 1976 the "one in 100 year" flood occurred and after the run-off had reached its peak, prospects for a new dam were dimming. Although the dam had withheld against the tremendous force of water, it was realized by local residents and officials that the dam must be rehabilitated or a new dam constructed to help minimize future floodwater. One year later, in April of 1977, a contract was signed between the CVCA and the Cribb Construction Company Ltd., of Ottawa for the reconstruction of the Marmora Dam: the cost of which was approximately $600,000.

The actual construction work began one month later. The existing Marmora Dam has ten sluice ways. Of these, nine are controlled by wooden stop logs which must be added or removed manually; the other is controlled by an electronic gate. The water intake for Marmora is also situated adjacent to the Marmora Dam as the village is dependent upon Crowe Lake for its entire source of water.

Up to Dec. 31, 1989, the CVCA has spent $750,808 on the Marmora Dam. An additional $20,000 was spent this year at the dam. This consisted of an erosion control project on the slope adjacent to the west sluice ways. The slope was cleared of brush and debris and sloped downwards towards the river. Filter cloth was installed on the embankment and covered with a mesh netting called Geo-Web,  which was then covered with topsoil and sod. The purpose of this exercise is to prevent sediment caused by eroding banks from entering the river. It also improves the overall aesthetics of the area. Much of the labor for this project was supplied by the "Experience'89" project, which is funded by the Ontario government.

The CVCA has also established a "stream flow gauge site" in conjunction with the dam. The gauge, which is accessed by computer from the office, relays valuable information concerning Crowe Lake and, by monitoring the gauge, the Authority is able to determine current water level trends. The Authority has13 similar gauge sites through the 775 square mile watershed. The gauges provide an overall trend of water levels and allows the Authority to make immediate decisions based on information received.

While this dam to the far east,  against the limestone cliff,  is a modern structure,  it is shown on the old forge plans of 1826.   The stream was  most likely used to power the great bellows of Hayes'  blast furnace and later the Pearce Hydro plant.    It is still in use today for the town's water intake.

 

Looking south                    photo by Doug Prindle

 

Looking north                     photo by Doug Prindle

THE MARMORA GENERATING STATION

 

Four People Escape Drowning

Marmora Herald Apr.30, 1959

About six o'clock Sunday after- noon two Havelock couples had a very narrow escape from death when their boat was swept through the dam on Crowe River. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Davis and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Howard were cruising on Crowe River above the dam when their outboard motor stalled. While attempting to get it started they did not notice that they were getting close to the dam until it was too late. They tried frantically to get the oars out to try to row the boat to safety but the current was too strong and the boat was drawn swiftly to the dam. Mr. Davis managed to grab the floor of the dam and hang on but was unable to stop the boat and it shot through the sluiceway with the other three still in it. Mr. and Mrs. Howard were carried through the rapids and Mr. Howard was able to reach the boat as it came out into smooth water. He paddled to his wife and they clung to the boat until the current carried them in close to shore near the home of Ernest Gordon. They managed to grab a tree until help arrived.

Some girls were on McGill street and they saw the accident and ran down to the business section to get help. Bill Sabine was in front of the Herald office and he drove close to the river and pulling his shoes off went into the water and swam to the stranded couple and dragged them to safety. When Bill Sabine reached them they were exhausted with the cold and fighting the swift current. Frank Bobyk, jr. and Doug Nobes waded in up to their shoulders and helped to drag them to shore Mrs. Davis had caught hold of a tree in the rapids below the dam and she clung to that until her strength gave out and she was swept down the river. Mr. Ed. Killian, and son AI, launched a boat from the west side of the river and they were able to reach Mrs. Davis and pull her out. Mr. Davis clung to the dam until Claude Nichol ran to him and pulled him to safety. Both women undoubtedly owe their lives to the fact that they were wearing good life jackets which kept them afloat until help arrived.

These three were so numbed by the cold and shock that they were completely helpless and they were carried to the nearby home of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Logan where they were wrapped in wool blankets and given treatment by Dr. H. G. Parkin.

This was the second accident for Howard in about six weeks. His car collided with a transport in Havelock and he had his leg fractured at that time and was still on crutches on Sunday. The water has been unusually high this spring with the great depth of snow during the past winter, and all of the stop logs that can be moved are out of the dam which makes the current stronger then it would normally be at this time. It is truly a miracle that all of the four were rescued on Sunday. The last people who went over the dam were Mrs. Charles Dunlay and her son,Wilfred Dunlay, who were both drowned on May 20th, 1943.
 

THE DROWNING OF MRS. CHARLES DUNLAY AND HER SON, WILFRED

Double Drowning Accident
Last Thursday afternoon Mrs .
.Chas. Dunlay and son, Wilfred,
borrowed a skiff from Mrs. Norman
Cooper and went fishing in Crowe
River above the dam. Early in the
evening they were noticed on the
water and that was the last time
they were seen by anyone.
About dark, when the boat failed
to return, Mrs. Cooper went to the
Dunlay home to inquire about it.
That was the first intimation Mr.
Dunlay had of the reason for the
absence of his wife and son. Early
Friday morning he notified Constable
Lavender of his fears they had been
drowned and a search was started.
Constable Lavender notified Provincial
Constable Patters on of Madoc, and
then with Fish and Game Overseer
J. A. Shannon made a search of both
shores of the river.
P.O. Paterson brought grappling
irons with him, but the very swift
current and rough water below the
dam made it impossible to drag the
river effectively. In the meantime
Harry Cooper and Chas. Gray discovered
the skiff upside down near
the west shore with the bottom all
smashed in. No trace was found of
the oars or a black felt hat which
Mrs. Dunlay was wearing and which
it is thought would float. Search was
continued for the bodies on Saturday
and Sunday and at various times
since. Powerful search lights were
also used at night, making it possible
to see down into the water. Guard
rail wire was placed across the bridge,
extending a couple of feet below the surface
so that if the bodies came to the surface at '
night they would not be carried down
the river.

 

 

Bodies Recovered from River
After over a week's search of the
river the body of the late Mrs. Chas.
Dunlay was found Sunday by Constable
W. Lavender. The coroner
was immediately notified and arrangements
made for taking the remains to
the Undertaking Rooms ofF. N.
Marett & Co.
The body was found near the south
end of the Village at the rear of Chas.
Cronkwright's residence. The back of
the head had been badly injured,
apparently by striking against the dam
or the rocks below it. After viewing .
the remains and considering all the
circumstances connected with the
drowning accident, Coroner Dr. Beatty
of Madoc decided an inquest was
unnecessary and released the body.
Interment took place in Marmora
Protestant cemetery on Monday.
The body of the son, Wilfred, was
found on Monday by Fish and Game
Overseer, J. A. Shannon, floating near
the west shore a short distance below
the dam near the spot where the boat
was first discovered.
Wilfred was buried beside his mother.
Considerable relief is felt that the search
is at last over and the bodies properly
interred.
Marmora Herald
May 27,1943