Upper Bonnington Falls and Alexander Carrie Hydro Electric Power Plant - Nelson, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 49° 27.793 W 117° 29.524
11U E 464343 N 5479067
Quick Description: Construction began on this generation station in 1905. When first brought online, it produced 750 kilowatts of power.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 9/5/2020 12:32:15 PM
Waymark Code: WM1331C
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 1

Long Description:
This generating station was built on Upper Bonnington Falls by the City of Nelson at the same time as was the Upper Bonnington dam and powerhouse across the river by West Kootenay Power.

Starting with a single vertical waterwheel generator producing 750 kilowatts in 1907, the powerhouse was expanded twice between 1908 and 1948, to a final capacity of 9,000 kilowatts from 4 waterwheel generators. In 1995 a fifth was added bringing the capacity to 15,000 kilowatts. The capacity at present is listed as 16 MW, sufficient to provide 50% of the city of Nelson's electrical needs.

Coordinates given are at the observation pullout on the highway.
Upper Bonnington Falls and Alexander Carrie Hydro Electric Power Plant
Lakeside Park is a large recreational green space at the edge of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake in the Fairview neighbourhood of Nelson, B.C.

The Alexander Carrie Hydro Electric Power Plant complex consists of a power house at Bonnington Falls on the Kootenay River near Nelson, B.C. Originally known as the Bonnington Power Plant, the Alexander Carrie Hydro Electric Power Plant and nearby Bonnington Falls are important for their combined natural, historical, cultural and engineering values. Today the Upper Bonnington Falls supports two hydroelectric generating stations, one owned and operated by FortisBC and the other by Nelson Hydro.

A natural feature of the Kootenay River, Bonnington Falls was a barrier to navigation and to ocean salmon migration to Kootenay Lake. Historically, the area was utilized as important fishing and hunting grounds, used by Indigenous Peoples and other residents from Nelson. The falls created a natural barrier to transportation for people navigating the river, and was an obstacle to fish trying to enter Kootenay Lake. Bonnington Falls were named by Sir Charles Ross, one of the founding members of West Kootenay Power and Light Company.

The Falls site is key to the story of the expansion of the city and its industrial infrastructure. Developed to supplement the existing power plant on Cottonwood Creek in Nelson, the acquisition of the Bonnington Falls water license in 1901 and 1904 and the completion of construction of the dam and power plant in 1907 marked the continuation of independent power production so important to the city’s growth.

The regional reach of the city was in part the result of its independent power generation. The ongoing role of the city as the figurative and literal powerhouse of the West Kootenay is embodied in the three stages of expansion of the powerhouse. Increasing demand for electricity necessitated the construction of additional generating units in 1910, 1929, 1949 and c.1996. The physical expansion of the powerhouse to meet the city’s needs resulted in three distinct building sections still evident in the current structure.

The plant is significant for its engineering design as a run-of-the-river power generation plant, generally considered a sustainable source of electricity. Through its dedication to the design of architect Alexander Carrie, this plant takes advantage of natural river flow and the elevation drop of Bonnington Falls, and is a facility that, under normal conditions, involves little or no water storage, with power generation fluctuating with the stream flow. In contrast, greater environmental impact has been felt from the Kootenay Power and Light facility which historically submerged the falls within the reservoirs in the Bonnington Dam area, an example of the environmental consequences of ongoing industrial development.

Through its dedication as the Alexander Carrie Hydro-Electric Plant by the City of Nelson in 1994, the site symbolically recognizes Carrie’s exceptional architectural career and dedication to the Nelson community, and links the site to the City of Nelson and its important history of power generation.

Bonnington Falls is important for its relationship to Coyote Rock, located downriver from the falls. The First Nations peoples relied on the salmon runs that existed in the West Kootenay. Part of their mythology has Coyote, the trickster who lead the salmon up from the ocean, placing Bonnington Falls to prevent the fish from ascending further to Kootenay Lake. Coyote Rock was historically a dividing line between the territories of the various First Peoples, but one which shifted periodically as each encroached on the others’ territory.
From the City of Nelson Heritage Register, Page 75
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

Highway 6/3A
Bonnington Falls, BC

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

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