Niagara Parks Power Station wins major award just six months after opening


Published February 28, 2022 at 3:58 pm

Four years of turning a shuttered hydro-electricity plant into a tourist attraction has paid off as the Niagara Parks Power Station won a major award on February 24.

The station, now one of the hotter tourist tickets in town, won an award for Excellence in Conservation at the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Heritage Awards.

“It is a tremendous honour for the Niagara Parks Power Station to be recognized with this award from the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario” said Niagara Parks Chair April Jeffs.

“This adaptive reuse project exemplifies Niagara Parks commitment to fulfilling our mandate for cultural stewardship along the Niagara River and we are so proud that this important historical site will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.”

“Excellence in Conservation” might actually be understating the achievement of recreating the power station’s experience.

Built in 1905, as the “Canadian Niagara Power generating station”, the Niagara Parks Power Station is the only fully intact decommissioned hydroelectric plant of its period left in the world.

The preservation of the one-of-a-kind facility was the first consideration in all decisions related to the adaptive reuse construction, which encompassed a comprehensive strategic conservation plan and over 75 unique construction projects.

A worker on the power plant’s reconstruction seeks to keep as much of the original equipment as possible as it get refurbished for use in the new tourist attraction. (All photos: Niagara Parks)

Said Niagara Parks during the four year construction process, “In 2017, Niagara Parks’ engineering team began a thorough assessment of the century-old building to determine the state of its structural integrity. The initial inspection revealed water from the Niagara River was still entering the plant and flowing into the penstocks.”

Working around the water issues during the construction before the tourist attraction opened to the public in January 2021 was no small feat.

“The large headgates that acted as a barrier, had deteriorated from rust. Safety was of the utmost concern,” said Niagara Parks at the time.

“Based on the findings of the assessment, a concrete barrier was placed in front of the penstocks to stop water from entering the power station. A swing stage was also built to allow access to different levels of the plant where geotechnical and structural inspections were completed.”

It took more than a bit of elbow grease to clean up the old power station.

The original equipment in the generator hall was meticulously shined and restored to showcase the incredible power generating technology built in the early 1900s.

Niagara Parks said a comprehensive strategic conservation plan determined what elements were most important to preserve.

“All the equipment showcased in the generator hall have been carefully cleaned and left as they were when they were originally built. The power station was built utilizing durable materials such as limestone, granite, brass, and copper.”

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