The History
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada

Hydro History (1980 to present in brief)


In the 1970’s the electrical load growth in the Swan River Valley increased by approximately 10% per year. In the fall of 1980 Manitoba Hydro doubled the capacity of the Swan River Sub-Station by constructing a new low profile steel sub-station. All new distribution lines in the vicinity of the new station were installed underground to reduce congestion and improve the appearance. The existing wood pole station that served Swan River for approximately 30 years was completely salvaged. At the same time that these improvements were being completed a second transformer was added to the Minitonas Terminal Station to add extra reliability to the valley’s electrical distribution system.


After Laurence Madill retired, Glenn Duncan moved to Swan River as the new operating supervisor and he held this position until he moved to Brandon as superintendent of line maintenance in 1988.


In 1988 Manitoba Hydro re-organized the customer service operation and creating operating centers that reported to a manager in Brandon. Swan River became the administration hub of one such operating center that encompassed the districts of Swan River, Pine River, Roblin and Grandview. At this time Jim Owen moved from The Pas to Swan River to become the new operating supervisor for the center. At that time he had twenty-six employees providing and maintaining service to 10,402 customers in an area of approximately 6,000 sq. miles with 13 sub-stations, 185 miles of 230 KV transmission lines and 325 miles of 66 KV subtransmission lines.
Also in 1988 Manitoba Hydro started construction on a new customer service building for the Swan River staff. The official opening of this new building took place on August 22, 1989. Shortly after this the old district office was removed from the site.


In July of 1993 major rains in the Valley resulted in extensive damage to hydro equipment with much of the northern part of the Swan River district being isolated and without power for several days. Crews were moved in to set new poles and build new lines that were destroyed by the flooding and most customers had electrical service restored within a week.


A major upgrade to the Minitonas Terminal Station was started in 1994 and completed in 1997. Manitoba Hydro doubled the capacity at Minitonas with the addition of two new 100 MVA transformers which will provide adequate and reliable power for the valley well into the next century.


In September of 1996 Manitoba Hydro completed another major re-organization with the position of operating supervisor being eliminated and Jim Owen was transferred to Brandon. Swan River was changed from an operating center to a district operation reporting to a manager in Thompson. Dwight Thompson who was the assistant district operator at the time of this reorganization became the district operator with the Swan River staff reporting to him.


Submitted by: Bruce Taylor

New low profile sub-station - Swan River, 1980.

On Wednesday, June 15, Manitoba Hydro transported a new power transformer from CN Station via their new haulage department in Minitonas. The transformer was hauled down main street in Swan River to Highway #10 with minimal disruption to the traffic. This unit which is a 230/66 kV 100 MVA transformer will replace an existing 50 MVA transformer at the Minitonas terminal. This work is the first stage of an ongoing, two-year project to improve Manitoba Hydro’s system reliability in the area. - Courtesy The Star & Times.

Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. This material was a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication.