Kemano- Townsite

Kemano, British Columbia, Canada

The Townsite was located at 200 ft above sea level
about 10 miles inland from Gardner Canal, and Kemano Beach.

All the Camps were built and controlled by Morrison-Knudsen Company of Canada, Ltd.
who Alcan had contracted to build the project.
Their brief Company history here

Camp 5, became the site of the permanent townsite of Kemano
It was for the single men, and Administration offices.

An early view of Camp 5

Boy wins Fishing Derby
Note- Commissary sign behind

Crew working in the snow, trying to place foundation for the Quonsets

Snow on the roof of the Quonsets

Camp 5

Camp 5

Camp 5

Mess Hall Rush at supper time!

Personnel, Time Keeping, Payroll Office, from a color slide

Concrete Batch Plant- 1953/54

Concrete Batch Plant- 1953/54

Kemano Firehall and Trucks- 1953/54

This Aerial View of Camp 5, shows the Powerplant Tunnel,
The Tailrace Tunnel to the left of it, and the bottom of the tramway, to the right of it.

Top Photo- Kemano Fire Truck
Bottom Photo- Kemano Welding School Fire

Grant tells me they had various Schools on the site, to teach special skills needed on the job.

Early Christmas Office Party
Bud Walker's Office Secretary on left, then Mr. Bud Walker, then rest unknown
Behind everyone are many flat files, with big letters WSO written on the side.
with smaller unreadable letters underneath

Another view with a few more added

Kemano had all the amenities of a small town, and more.
Church, Golf Course, Bowling Alley, Telephone, Guest House, General Store, Royal Bank, Bakery,
Butcher Shop, Fire Hall, Hospital, Doctor, Dentist, Theatre, RCMP,
Rod & Gun Club, Photography Club, Cubs, Scouts and Girl Guides, Theatre, outdoor skating rink, and lots of free electricity!

First Permanent Housing was started in 1957

  • Abrahamson Ave.
  • Dunn Ave.
  • Gordon Ave.
  • Whidbey Rd.
  • Horetsky St. (see history below)
  • Knewstubb Ave.
  • Kemano Dr.

Post Office History

ca 2000, 40 houses, complete with furniture, were burnt to the ground, in Kemano,
used as a firefighting training exercise.Today, 2010, Very little exists of Kemano,
which is now a camp with crews working one week on / one week off.
The only buildings still standing are the Apartment Complex, Guest House, Recreation Centre, and buildings related to running the site.
All but 5 homes was burnt down back in 2000.
There are no buildings from the 50’s that are still standing

Cute poem, author unknown, printed in an early Kemano newspaper, (see below) explains the weather:

It rained and rained and rained and rained,
The average fall was well maintained.
And when the roads were just like bogs,
It started raining cats and dogs.
Then after a drought of half an hour,
There came a most refreshing shower.
And then most curious of all–
A gentle rain began to fall.
Next day was also fairly dry,
Except for a deluge from the sky.
And after that the rain set in!

Besides rain, there is lots of snow in this area.

They even had their local own local paper in Kemano called “The Project Post”
it was published Weekly,
the Christmas Issue, Dec 19, 1953, shown below, says Published “Weakly”?
This is Volume 1, Edition 48
It started with edition 1, Jan 17, 1953
printed until at least Mar 20, 1954

Did you note the “When you drink, don't drive” comment?

As you can see the community of workers at Kemano, were from all over the world.
Some could not even speak English, when they arrived.
To accommodate them, the newspaper printed “Merry Christmas”
in many languages. drawing is signed Pidherney
a very neat cover, which even today would look great in a newspaper.
Might even use this in my Christmas letter this year!

Interesting to note- there is one reel of microfilm with this newspaper on it, in the BC Archives

Serviced by BC Tel, which became Telus.
Alcan operated their own Powerline High Voltage Carrier Phone System for years,
before the microwave system was placed, as shown in this photo below.
Only problem with the Powerline system, when there was an avalanche that wiped out a tower, and the powerline,
Kemano was without phone contact.
They probably still use the old system as a backup.

Kemano BC Tel/Telus site ca 2000 taken by Glen Olver, retired Telus Employee

Ted Campbell from Langley BC sent this picture, and short story, which I have added below.

Ted Campbell on right, in front of a Quonset Hut in Camp 5

I'm Ted Campbell, my wife Ann and I live in Langley B.C. Canada. We logged at Kitimat for Crown Zellerbach in the '60's and ran a charter boat at the same time. After that we owned a 14 tractor long-haul truck line for many years. Ann is a marriage commissioner, she's performed about 4,000 weddings. I've been writing since I was 14 in high school in Kimberley B.C. I write in two genres, one is truck-related, mostly 50 short stories and a Canadian Mystery series.


  • Last modified: 2018/02/20 17:12
  • by dlgent