White Gold
336 pages, 6 x 9
7 b&w illustrations, 28 tables, 5 maps
Release Date:10 May 2000
Release Date:08 Aug 1999
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

White Gold

Hydroelectric Power in Canada

UBC Press

During the past fifty years, Canadians have seen many of their white-water rivers dammed or diverted to generate electricity primarily for industry and export. The rush to build dams increased utility debts, produced adverse consequences for the environment and local communities, and ultimately resulted in the layoff of 25,000 employees. White Gold looks at what went wrong with hydro development, with the predicted industrial transformation, with the timing and magnitude of projects, and with national and regional initiatives to link these major projects to a trans-Canada power grid.

Karl Froschauer examines five major hydroelectric projects -- Niagara Falls (Ontario), Churchill Falls (Labrador), James Bay (Quebec), the Nelson River (Manitoba), and the Peace River (British Columbia) -- applying a political economic perspective that unifies his analysis of patterns of hydro development in Canada. He points out that in the 1960s and 70s federal and interprovincial conflicts over transmission line ownership, hydro plant investments, extra-provincial authority, and export agendas undermined several national and regional power grid initiatives. He then argues that if the provinces had chosen to integrate their power project within a national electricity network, substantial technical, economic, and environmental advantages could have resulted. Instead of providing the infrastructure for a national power grid and serving as a force for indigenous secondary industry, the provincial expansions of Canada's hydro resources have merely fostered continued dependence on branch-plant industrial development and staples export and have created vast surpluses of electricity for continental, rather than national, use.

Meticulously researched and documented, White Gold is the first comprehensive study of hydroelectric power development in Canada. Its useful analytical framework and provincial comparisons illuminate and critique the path of development over the last century and offer lessons for the future.

A much needed historical account of hydroelectric development in Canada ... an extremely useful and timely book. It is very well researched, the argument is focused, and the writing style is accessible ... an excellent reference for those seeking background on contemporary utility restructuring and de(re)-regulation in Canada. W. Scott Prudham, Canadian Geographer
A detailed look at the electric power systems in Canada. L.J. Bohmann, Choice
Froschauer has produced a very succinct and insightful book on Canadian hydro-electricity development. His critical stance on many of the issues and repercussions of mega-project development is properly researched and well presented. The book also contains useful appendixes and a comprehensive bibliography. Richard G. Kuhn, CBRA 5043
Karl Froschauer teaches in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University.

1 Introduction: Federal and Provincial Power

2 Avoiding National Power

3 Niagara Power Repatriation (Ontario)

4 Power from the North and Neighbour: Distinct Interconnections (Quebec)

5 The Churchill Power Trap (Newfoundland)

6 Nelson River Power (Manitoba)

7 Peace, Pulp, and Power Hunger (BC)

8 Conclusion: Review and Resistance




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