Shoal Lake Aqueduct

Where: Winnipeg, MB.

Engineer: firm "Hering, Fuertes and Stearns"

Date of construction: 1919

Plan and Profile of Shoal Lake Aqueduct.(Source: Canadian Public Works Association, Manitoba Chapter)

Construction of the Falcon River Dike (Source: Winnipeg Water and Waste Department)

Site Location: The Shoal Lake Aqueduct and the Greater Winnipeg Water District railway occupy the same right-of-way from Winnipeg to Shoal Lake via Deacon, Millbrook, Monominto, Larkhill, Spruce, Hadashville (where it crosses the Trans-Canada Highway) and McMunn.

Plaque Location: Lat.: 49o – 53’ – 56”N; Long.: 97o – 7’ – 58”W. (GPS: 49.89873, -97.1329812). The plaque is mounted on the side of the Winnipeg Aqueduct Monument, situated at the north end of Stephen Juba Park just east of the intersection where James Avenue ends at Waterfront Drive. From the corner of Portage and Main, drive north on Main Street for approx. 150m, turn right on McDermot Ave, for approx. 400m until it ends on Waterfront Drive, turn left on Waterfront Drive and follow for approximately 350m, the monument is located in Stephen Juba Park east of the James Avenue T-intersection. Street parking is available.

Plaque on Winnipeg Aqueduct Monument in Stephen Juba Park. (Source: A. Horosko)

Description: This 155 km (97mile) reinforced concrete aqueduct, completed in 1919, provides Winnipeg with water from Shoal Lake on the Manitoba-Ontario border, by gravity flow. A 1912 report by Professor Charles S. Slichter, recommended “the water supply for the City of Winnipeg be taken from Shoal Lake”. The eminent American consulting engineering firm, Hering, Fuertes and Stearns, designed the aqueduct, and the Greater Winnipeg Water District administered the project. A local board of engineers, including J.S. Sullivan and R.S. Lea, was appointed. W.G. Chase was in charge of the construction. The prime contractors were the Winnipeg Aqueduct Construction Co., Thomas Kelly and Sons, the Lock-joint Pipe Co., and J.H. Tremblay and Sons Co. A 19 km (12 mile) branch was added in 1960. The maximum average daily draw, 300 million litres per day (66 million gallons per day), occurred in 1988. To facilitate construction, the 168 km (105 mi.) Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway was completed in 1914 and remained self supporting, hauling sand and gravel until 1991 and transporting passengers.

Chief Engineer William Gregory Chase (1875-1937) inspects the work (Source: Winnipeg Water and Waste Department)

Bending reinforcing steel for inverts (Source: Winnipeg Water and Waste Department)

On-site medical facility (Source: Winnipeg Water and Waste Department)

Historic Significance: The aqueduct was heavily promoted by civil engineer and Winnipeg Mayor Thomas Deacon, for whom the Deacon Reservoir is named, and overwhelmingly approved by Winnipeg voters in 1913. All the works were designed in Winnipeg and the contractors all were local, employing local labour. The concrete mix design required intensive research including an innovative permeability test. Another innovative aspect is the 27-km-long syphon that carries the aqueduct under the Red River, with pressure fluctuations controlled by a surge tank. The railway remains in use today and is the only access to the inlet structure on Shoal Lake. W. G. Chase served as Vice-President of the Engineering Institute of Canada (1920-21) and as President (1928) and Vice-President (1929) of the Association of Professional Engineers of Manitoba.

The Falcon River dam was constructed to divert discoloured water from the Falcon River through the newly created lake at the west end of Indian Bay and a channel was dug to convey this water to Snowshoe Bay, away from the aqueduct inlet. The residents of Shoal Lake Band 40 living on the peninsula between Indian and Snowshoe Bays became land-locked by the channel, and the water in Snowshoe Bay was often not potable. After a long struggle, a road to serve Shoal Lake 40 was completed and officially opened in June of 2019. A new water treatment plant to serve Shoal Lake 40 is under construction.

Plaque detail. (Source: A. Horosko)

Plaque Wording: National Historic Civil Engineering Site. CSCE. A tribute to the engineers who designed and supervised construction of WINNIPEG-SHOAL LAKE AQUEDUCT. Constructed 1915 – 1919. Designed by Consulting Engineers Messrs. R. Hering, F.P. Stearns, and J. H. Fuertes. Supervision of Construction by Chief Engineer, W. G. Chace. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. 1994

Site Historique de Génie Civil. SCGC. Un homage aux ingénieurs qui ont conçu et dirigé la construction de L’AQUEDUC WINNIPEG-SHOAL LAKE. 1915-1919 Construction. Conçu par ingénieurs conseil Messrs. R. Hering, F. P. Stearns and J. H. Fuertes. Et la construction dirigé par W. G. Chace, Ingénieur chef. Société canadienne de genie civil. 1994.

Links to Online Documentation:

Engineers and Geoscientists Manitoba, “Shoal Lake Aqueduct”.

David A. Ennis, Developing a Domestic Water Supply for Winnipeg fro Shoal Lake and Lake of the Woods: The Greater Winnipeg Water District Aqueduct, 1905-1919 (Master of.Science thesis), 2011.

Winnipeg Water and Waste Department, “The Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway”.

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