Kemano- Powerline

Kemano, British Columbia, Canada

Transmission Power Line to Kitimat, from Kemano

82 km through the Kildala Pass.
230,000 volts!

Line parallels the Kemano River, as it leaves the Powerhouse

Tent Camp used for the erecting crews for the transmission towers
Photo on left clearly shows the construction method for the tents to withstand wind, rain and snow
Note the crew on top of the aluminum tower in right picture.
What a job, and working / living conditions!

Another transmission tower picture

These 2 photos are from large negatives, of color photos, showing the transmission grid leaving Kemano area.

2 more from color slides

Clearing right of way for Kitimat-Kemano Power Line Towers

Placing one of the hollow, 110 ft high, aluminum towers
note the fellow waving his hat on the top of that one tower?? Crazy!
These hollow towers were assembled in sections, you can see the joints in each column

Wire rope suspended bridge, from where? to where?
I believe this is the catenary at powerline pass
if you look at “you tube”, they land on this now.
This actually holds up the powerline at this point.
It was in a location where a tower couldn't be placed.
You can see the powerline enter from the left and exit at an angle, lower right.

stringing wire from Kemano to Kitimat
photo from Grant Walker, CA

There was multiple work camps, many wooden ladders, lots of wooden staircases, many feet of railway tracks laid,
it is tough to figure where some of these photos are. It is hard to fathom the management of it all.
It is truly amazing what they did, where they did. In the worst environment, they could find.

Top photo- Transmission line from Summit of Twin Peaks, to Camp 8, Towers #108-103
Bottom Photo- Tower 114R, and Camp 11, at summit of the Pass,
both photos by Okanagan Airways, Aug 3, 1953

Okanagan Airways, same as Okanagan Air Service, same as Okanagan Helicopters, see below.

To build this project, helicopters were used for the majority of the work, transporting men and equipment.
from this old newspaper article we can see Alcan used the latest machines.
Sikorsky S55
(also known as the H-19 Chickasaw)
here it is called the Giant Egg-Beater

CF-GHV was only the 2nd Civilian Machine of this type.
It used a 600hp, R1340-57 radial engine, built in Canada by Pratt & Whitney. The S55 was the world's first certified transport helicopter.
Crew- 2, (Pilot, Co-Pilot)
Capacity- 12 troops
(this article says 10 men, so civilian model, had a little more room for the passengers)
Length- 62ft 7in (19.1 m)
Rotor Diam.- 53 ft (16.16 m)
Height- 13ft 4 in (4.07 m)
Empty Height- 4,795 lb
Loaded Weight- 7,200 lb
Max Takeoff Weight- 7,900 lb
Max Speed- 101 mph (163 km/h)
Range- 405 mi (652 km)
Service Ceiling- 10,500 ft (3,200 m)
Rate of Climb- 700 ft/min (213 m/min)

CF-GHV, bought by the newly formed, Okanagan Air Service, in 1952, based in Kelowna.
per article, Helicopter came from Bridgeport Conn. headquarters of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
flown by Carl Agar, one of the founders and owners of Okanagan Helicopters Ltd.
which was bought out, and became Canadian Helicopters Corporation, now simply called CHC.

Carlyle (Carl) Clare Agar, AFC
b- November 28, 1901 Lion's Head, Bruce Co., ON
d- January 27, 1968, Victoria BC, age 66
He was a pioneering Canadian aviator, who contracted his services to Alcan in 1951.
He was inducted in 1974 in Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.
The surveying for the project took place out of helicopters, flown by Carl and his men.
One of the pilots was Bill Mcleod, one of Okanagan's original pilots,
who was trained in 1949 by Agar, who was an instructor for the RCAF.
Another famous Okanagan Helicopter pilot at the time was Bill Brooks.
Glenbow Museum has a photo of him flying a S55 flying equipment to the powerline here.
found an article online where he flew into a park near the Cedar Park Motel, Dawson Creek,
to register, before heading to the airport.
I would love to find more info on this man, and a photo would be great.
Mr. Jeff Watts who worked in Kemano in 1954-56
called Jan 26, 2012 and gave me this fellows name.

They used the smaller Bell 47 Helicopters to retrieve the slings used by the bigger machines.
they were also used to ferry passengers.

Bell 47 helicopter
think it might be a Model D
In front of Okanagan helicopters hangar
Grant thinks the lady was their Secretary/Clerk

Helicopter landing at Kemano

Noon Jan 25, 1955 the towers 113L, 111R and 112R
were destroyed by an airborne avalanche
Tower 113R was damaged.
Took 2 weeks to restore power to the smelter and townsite.

Aug 1953, the largest voltage power transformer ever made in the UK, was on it's way to Kemano.
17,000 k.v.a., 301,000 volt, single phase Generator Transformer was the first of 4 ordered for this project.

Most photos courtesy Grant Walker, from his father, Thomas Raymond Walker's collection


  • Last modified: 2018/02/20 17:10
  • by dlgent