Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mississippi River Improvement Company Plaque

In Almonte Ontario north of Mill Street, east of the Post Office and on the south bank of the Mississippi River stands a plaque that tells about the Mississippi River Improvement Company.

1909 - 1991
The Mississippi River in eastern Ontario is a tributary of the Ottawa River. The upper basin starts in the Mazinaw Lake area and enters the Ottawa River above Chats Falls. Recognizing a need to manage the water flow, Mr. Jim Brown of Carleton Place founded the Mississippi River Improvement Company Limited in 1909. In 1910 the MRIC was chartered by provincial legislation to levy tolls on water users of the system. The tolls were to cover the costs of operating and maintaining dams at Cross, Long and Gull Lakes. Ultimately, the company also assumed responsibility of abandoned dams at Mazinaw, Shabomeka and Mississagagon Lakes.

At the peak of its operation, the company was collecting tolls from as many as seventeen users comprised of flour, feed, textile and saw mills and small hydro electric generating stations.

By the 1980's there were only four users left on the system, including Almonte Hydro, a founding shareholder in the company.

The company continued to bear the total cost of dam operations despite the fact that there were other major benefactors, namely; cottage owners, recreational users and the conservation authorities. Through negotiations with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ontario Hydro; the five upper dams were turned over to the MVCA and Cross Lake was taken over by Ontario Hydro in 1990.

In 1991, the company closed out its operations.