How it all began
Our story begins in 1839 along the Churchill River. It was then when the first European, John McLean, was believed to have first seen The Falls. Fifty-five years later in 1894, geologist, A.P. Low, recognized the Churchill River as a potentially huge source of hydroelectric power, reporting the availability of “several millions of horsepower.”
While as early as 1915 an engineering study confirmed that The Falls was ideal for the generation of hydroelectric power, it wasn’t until the mid-century that Newfoundland’s first Premier, Joey Smallwood envisioned its development and began the groundwork for the building and construction of the Churchill Falls Generating Station—the largest civil engineering project in North America at the time.
The Churchill Falls development was officially inaugurated by Premier Joey Smallwood in 1967. And despite the difficult terrain, harsh weather conditions and remote location, 6,300 field workers would work non-stop for the next several years. On December 6, 1971 at 5:17 p.m., first commercial power was delivered—five months and three weeks ahead of schedule.
The birth of a community
It was in 1967, the same year as construction commenced on the Churchill Falls Generating Station, that a community began taking shape. As families of workers began arriving, schools, recreation facilities and services were being added to meet the needs of the growing community. The community revolved around a town complex, the Donald Gordon Centre, much as it does today, with amenities such as a school, gymnasium, grocery store, hotel, restaurant, library, curling club and swimming pool. By 1969 the construction of permanent housing accommodations for employees was well underway.
Churchill Falls was born a company-owned town and it remains that today. It is managed and operated by Newfoundland & Labrador Hydro and is home to the proud and dedicated men and women who operate and support the generating station.