Historical/cultural site Gouin dam

Aire faunique communautaire (AFC) du réservoir Gouin

FACT CARD

Site of interest : historical/cultural

Gouin Dam

Geographic coordinates

48°21’14’ ‘ N, 74°05’53’ ‘ O

Sector

13

DESCRIPTION

Construction of the Gouin Dam began in the spring of 1916 and was completed at the end of 1917. At the time, widespread deforestation in the Haute-Mauricie region necessitated control of the flow of the Saint-Maurice river in order to transport logs downstream.

The official inauguration of the dam took place in 1918. The dam measures 502 meters long and 26 meters high. The flooding created by the dam gave rise to the Gouin reservoir we know today: an immense body of water with a surface area of 1 427 km2.

DID YOU KNOW…?

The creation of the Gouin reservoir had a devastating impact on the Atikamekw community.

Not only was the village of Obedjiwan flooded, but the community lost considerable trapping territories. Mammals, disturbed by the drastic change to their habitat, became more and more rare; leading to immense difficulty for hunting. To make matters worse, fish could no longer find proper spawning grounds. Navigation by canoe became a dangerous task, as trees were now beneath the surface of the water. The once-familiar banks were now inaccessible as they were littered with clusters of plant debris.

The decomposition of organic matter leaked mercury into the water, leading to the water of the reservoir being harmful to the health of those who drank it. It is only since the 1940s that the Atikamekw community was advised to boil their water before consumption. In the 1950s, the Atikamekw community was advised to reduce their consumption of fish, while this resource had been the basis of their diet since ancestral times.