La Colle Falls finds new life

Joshua
Joshua Pagé
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As Paul Van Pul's thick Belgian accent rolled through council chambers, a recommendation to simply receive and file his La Colle Falls correspondence dissipated.

La Colle Falls finds new life

As Paul Van Pul's thick Belgian accent rolled through council chambers, a recommendation to simply receive and file his La Colle Falls correspondence dissipated.

"I believe the lock, dam, power station and canal deserve not only to be a provincial, but indeed a national historic site," said Van Pul during this week's council meeting.

Van Pul, a consulting surveyor interested in hydraulic archaeology, described to council his plan to conduct an archaeological survey of the failed power-generating site.

He said he first needed to dig up archival documents about the site before conducting any fieldwork in the summer of 2010.

La Colle Falls deserved to have its true history told and made accessible, noted Van Pul.

"As the centennial of the construction draws near I think it would be fitting to examine the full story behind this project in detail," said Van Pul.

The city applied for a franchise to develop La Colle Falls in 1909 during a real estate boom in Prince Albert.

The project, originally intended to produce cheap electrical power for industry, quickly became extremely expensive and it was abandoned in 1913.

The city, saddled with debt, twice defaulted on loan payments, but never declared bankruptcy and paid the debt by 1965.

Coun. John Swystun said the story of the famous failure was always of interest to local residents.

"I think everybody in the room here that is familiar with La Colle Falls has our interests piqued and we certainly have an interest in the project," said Swystun.

Van Pul, now living in Saskatoon, said he was in talks with SIAST's Woodland Campus, as well as a history professor from the University of Saskatchewan, and should have a number of partners on board soon.

He added he was applying for funding from the provincial government by mid-August.

As for the city, Van Pul requested logistical support, and was met with curiosity.

"I see for instance the need for safety equipment, permanent supervision, temporary shelter, perhaps catering ... provision of some motorized equipment like bush-clearing tools, pumps and general tools as well," said Van Pul.

He noted it was early in the process and council asked him to return soon with a more formal plan, possibly with dollar estimates.

He added he would work in conjunction with the Prince Albert Historical Society.

The site, about 45 kilometres east of the city, is nearly unreachable by vehicle now, but the dam itself remains almost entirely intact.

jpage@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: University of Saskatchewan, Prince Albert Historical Society

Geographic location: La Colle Falls, Prince Albert, Saskatoon

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Recent comments

  • keet
    November 19, 2009 - 08:39

    There was a thesis produced by Jason John Hurd to the University of Waterloo. One of the topics was turning it into a spa complex. It was quite interesting, I would recommend it for a read.

  • keet
    November 19, 2009 - 03:39

    There was a thesis produced by Jason John Hurd to the University of Waterloo. One of the topics was turning it into a spa complex. It was quite interesting, I would recommend it for a read.

  • K
    November 19, 2009 - 00:12

    Council should have told this king to be to fish elsewhere.
    dmac is closer to the truth.
    This guy is a big dreamer, in the wrong part of the country, that is looking at every scheme possible to use tax payers money.
    He should hand out travel brochures at a rest stop in B.C.
    It is a part of history.
    I can't see the city of P.A. wanting any part of tossing money into it.
    Even the rest benches at the Forks get busted and burnt.
    Look at the mess just cleaned up at Little Red, right on the edge of the city.

  • dmac
    November 18, 2009 - 22:16

    brilliant idea, lets pump more money into a project that was a failure from the get-go, more great use of taxpayers money? Maybe we should focus more on our needs - like, um, another BRIDGE?