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Monument to a failed hydro project – The mystery arch in Eugenia

July 2019

In the Village of Eugenia, Ontario, an unincorporated municipality in Artemesia Township, beside the Beaver River at the top of Eugenia Falls in the Eugenia Falls Conservation Area, sits a lone stone arch seemingly serving no purpose.

This stone arch was once the entrance to a long-vanished tunnel intended to be used in conjunction with a long abandoned hydro-electric power project. Built by the Georgian Bay Power Company between 1906 and 1907, the tunnel was dug through the hill beside the top of the falls to the valley floor below. The plan was to divert the river through the tunnel in an attempt to maximize the drop, thus increasing the generation capacity of Eugenia Falls.

This was the second attempt at hydro generation at Eugenia Falls, the first being built in 1893 by local businessman William Hogg, the namesake of “Hogg’s Hollow north of Toronto. Unfortunately Hogg’s paddlewheel generator was only able to generate 70 kW, barely enough electricity to power Eugenia and nearby Flesherton.

Construction costs on the tunnel exceeded the million dollar mark (approximately $27.2 million today), due to problems with quicksand, but when completed, the tunnel was 867 feet long, 9 feet high and 8.5 feet wide, and was big enough to drive a buggy through it, which one person actually did.

A Roman-style stone arch was constructed at each end of the tunnel but in the end, all the effort was for nothing.

The Beaver River’s capacity proved to be insufficient and the tunnel was never used. The whole project was eventually abandoned and the Georgian Bay Power Company went bankrupt.

The provincial government assumed responsibility for all hydroelectric projects, and the Hydro-Electric Power Commission embarked on a new project in Eugenia that involved damming the river, creating a 490 acre reservoir north-east of Eugenia that is now known as Lake Eugenia.

The tunnel has long since been filled in, leaving the arch at the top of the falls standing as a monument to the failed hydro project.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenia,_Ontario,

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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