The History
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba Power Commission and Manitoba Hydro in the Swan River Valley

In 1952 a new district of Swan River was added to Manitoba Power Commission, and Laurence Madill was appointed District Supervisor. In October he, his wife and year old son moved to Swan River.

A temporary office was set up above the old Swan Bakery for a combined construction and operating staff.

During the summer and fall Manitoba Power Commission rebuilt the distribution systems of Swan River, five other towns, two farm areas, and new interconnecting town lines as well as a new sub-station.

By November 3rd, the new sub station was energized and on November 4th hydro-electric power came to Swan River, Minitonas, Bowsman, Durban, Kenville and Benito. Most of Swan River Municipality and two hundred and fifty farms were connected by Christmas.

In 1953, nine hundred lines were built and energized plus the farms in the districts of Birch River, Benito and Minitonas. In 1954, Mafeking and two hundred farms were added, and in 1955, Bellsite and Novra. That was the virtual end of the farm electrification program. Many farms were added over several years – ones that had not signed up when the areas were converted.

In the early 60’s Manitoba Power Commission changed to Manitoba Hydro. In the middle of the 70’s small one-man districts were no longer viable so were amalgamated with larger centres to more effectively look after heavier types of material, etc. Mechanical diggers were issued to larger areas and eventually bucket trucks. Districts of Benito, Minitonas, Kenville, Durban, Bowsman and Birch River became part of Swan River work area.

This district remained basically the same till 1982 at the time of Laurence’s retirement.

During these years many fine workers were on the staff. Countless fond memories were shared and numerous friendships were developed.

Submitted by: Bruce Taylor

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.