Northern Lights

Volume 29

Number 1


Number 2 Summer 1969

Winter scene at Island Falls hydro development settlement taken last April by Public Relations manager Al Epp on a flying-trip to outlying points in HBM&S operations.


MANY people have expressed an interest in the conditions prevailing at Island Falls since automation. Since publication deadline for this issue falls during my routine tour of duty at Island Falls, I will try to answer some of the questions.

At the moment things are far from normal here as Roy Bunn has a crew of 10 men from C.R.P. in Flin Flon, plus 10 regular employees from Sandy Bay busily installing new static exciters for the seven main generating units. These replace the shaft-driven rotating exciters. As these generators have been accustomed to lavish care and attention over the years, they now need more sophisticated equipment to keep them happy. This modernizing trend will be a continuing process for some time yet.

During more normal periods, the personnel here is reduced to a kitchen staff of Mr. and Mrs. Ted Berge, one operator, two maintenance men, and about a half dozen permanent employees from Sandy Bay. At present Mrs. Margaret Jeffrey is lending valuable assistance in the kitchen and staff-house.

The power house interior has changed considerably since automation. Especially the generator floor with the addition of new equipment, and changes in the control board. The Plant is being run from Flin Flon at present, but it can also be controlled from Island Falls if necessary.

Tom Willey, CRP Control Office. Art Wenman, CRP Operator.

Fred Bowman was MC for the retirement party.

The Control Centre must be a lonely place at the time of writing with most of the staff at Island Falls. Also Gordon Dash has a crew from the Electrical Department at Mile 13, and Electrical Department Superintendent Stuart Evans has a crew at Sherridon for some work on the Snow Lake line. We will be responsible for directing the high tension switching necessary for this work.

Now, as far as the Island Falls Camp, or townsite is concerned, due to abandonment it is no longer the beauty spot it once was. Still, the important thing is that Churchill River Power plant continues to be a reliable source of energy that benefits us all.

Early this week, C.R.P Superintendent Harry Olson flew in to The Falls to officiate at a retirement party for Etienne MacDonald. Etienne, a carpenter, has established a remarkable record of service over a period of 39 years. His contribution to Churchill River Power is appreciated by all, and especially by his former partner, Alf Broster, also retired. We all wish Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald the best of luck and continued serenity in the future.

Des Pyne, CRP Operator. Etienne MacDonald was honoured at a retirement party at Island Falls in April after 39 years with CRP. Ernie Westbury, Chief Operator, CRP Control. Roy Thompson, changing MW chart.

Number 3 Autumn 1969

Della and Ted Berge, our hosts
at Island Falls.


A PICNIC was held July 16 at Phantom Lake to mark the retirement of three Churchill River Power employees: Harry Olson, who retired June 30, Les Saville, July 31, and for William Jonasson, who retired April 30, 1968, but due to automation activity had no farewell party at that time.

About 60 people were present, all of them former residents of Island Falls. Following a wiener roast at which every wiener was consumed, as well as an ample supply of soft drinks, coffee, marshmallows etc., chairman Tom Willey called on Superintendent Gordon Dash to make the presentations.

This was followed by a sing-song accompanied by Ted Berge on his beloved banjo.

Comments were expressed about many similar affairs held at Island Falls, and we believed this was something different in the line of retirement parties in Flin Flon. We hope to have some pictures of the picnic for the next issue. This was one of several retirement parties held for these retirees.

Harry T. Olson was born May 5, 1905 at Camrose, Alberta. Fie worked for Wilkinson Electric for some years before coming to Island Falls on June 24, 1930. He started as a 2nd operator, but most of his time was spent in maintenance duties, until August, 1958 when he was appointed Assistant Superintendent. Then, with the advent of automation he assumed the responsibilities of Superintendent in 1967. Harry and Irene will reside in Calgary but had no home there as of time of writing. Letters addressed to them in care of General Delivery will reach them.

William J. Jonasson was born at Bru, Manitoba, November 14, 1902. Before arriving in the North country he worked for Winnipeg Electric and C.P.R. Telegraphs, as well as farming and fishing. He started with C.R.P. on June 25, 1930 as a patrolman on the Transmission Line. In 1938 he was stationed at Mile 13, and in 1944 arrived at Island Falls bringing a wife and daughter with him. In 1955 he was made Line Foreman, the position he held until his retirement, April 30, 1968. Bill and Phyllis now reside at 415 Princess Blvd., Flin Flon.

Operator Jack McMurdo at the control panel.
Jack Barkwell, Operator.

Leslie W. Saville was born in Essex, England, July 19, 1904 and came to Canada in 1926. He spent several years trapping and prospecting in Northern Ontario and then began prospecting for HBM & Sin 1939. In the fall of 1943, Les started working at Island Falls as a sub-foreman of an Indian gang and prospecting during the summer. This continued until 1957 when he was put in charge of the stockroom and with the coming of automation was made a maintenance man. Les, Velma and Larry have made their home at 642 Creighton Ave., Creighton, Sask. A note from the Safety Department says he is one of our accident-free employees.

In concluding this article we'd like to note that we finally got a picture of Della and Ted Berge who always manage to make our tour of duty at Island Falls a pleasant experience, especially at meal times.

It is good to see Doug Russell back on the job after a lengthy illness. Doug is a real outdoor type and we hope he can get more of it now.

Les Saville, who retired at the end of July, and Walt Leslie with the "precision tools" at Island Falls.
Former Superintendent Harry Olson at his desk.
Jerry Stringer, communications expert.
Stan Ferg at the drawing board.
Retired CRP Superintendent Harry Olson shown centre, with General Manager D.J. Robertson left and Assistant General Manager J.R. Sadler, at reception in his honour.

Harry Olson Farewell

HARRY OLSON, who retired June 30 as Superintendent of Churchill River Power, was honored at a retirement party late in June, held in the Staff House meeting room.

Born and educated in the Camrose, Alberta area, he began his electrical career with the Calgary Power Company in 1927 and gained further experience in his chosen field with Wilkinson Electric.

Addressing the farewell gathering, HBM & S General Manager D. J. Robertson noted that Harry joined C.R.P. on June 24, 1930. Despite the fact he had chosen to take early retirement, he had completed 39 years of service with the Company, and during that time gained the distinction of having worked on every job "involved in our power generating operation."

Harry had discharged his duties with such dependability and skill, Mr. Robertson said, that he was appointed Assistant Superintendent on August 1st, 1958, and to the position of Superintendent, November 1, 1967.

He was married July 4, 1932 to Irene Hyslein and they have two sons, Keith, an Air Canada pilot residing in Winnipeg, and Brian, living in Calgary. The Olsons plan on taking up residence in Calgary and doing a lot of travelling and picture taking during their retirement years. Mr. Olson is a skilled amateur photographer.

In behalf of all present, the General Manager extended "the best wishes of all of us" to the Olsons and presented Harry with a world-wide transistor radio as a "small memento of our esteem."

Assistant General Manager J. R. Sadler, speaking briefly on the occasion before making some announcements, declared it could be said with real meaning that a powerful lot of water had gone over the dam since Harry first joined CRP, and added: "He has done a good job for us, especially during the very trying times of changeover of control to Flin Flon. However, in the tradition of our company, he has brought along men who are quite capable of carrying on in the same high standard."

Guest of honour making reply. Gift of world-wide transistor radio, seen on table presented by
General Manager.


Gordon H. Dash
Churchill River Power

Roy L. Bunn
Asst. Superintendent
Churchill River Power

Expressing his appreciation for the kindness of all those present, Mr. Olson said he was taking into retirement with him a legacy of happy memories both in connection with his work with CRP and of all those with whom he had come into contact during his years of service. He thanked everyone for their co-operation, and recounted a few of the more humorous incidents in which some of those present had shared.

Following Mr. Olson's reply, Mr. Sadler announced the appointment of Gordon H. Dash to the post of Superintendent, Churchill River Power, and Roy L. Bunn as Assistant Superintendent.

Mr. Dash joined the Company in May, 1950 as an electrical engineer. In March, 1951, he was transferred to the Research Department as a research engineer, remaining there until February, 1957 when he was appointed Electrical Engineer at the Hydro Plant of the Churchill River Power Company at Island Falls. On November 1st, 1967, he was appointed Engineer-in-Charge of Carrier Communications and Telemetering. Born at Regina, Saskatchewan, August, 1924, he attended the University of Saskatchewan, graduating in 1950 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Mr. Bunn joined the Churchill River Power Co., Limited in June, 1945 as a hydro plant operator. He progressed through the various phases of the hydro plant operations, was appointed Electrical Engineer September 15, 1958, and Engineer-in-Charge of Hydro Plant Operations and Maintenance November I, 1967. Mr. Bunn was born at The Pas, Manitoba in July, 1924, and obtained his education there.

Number 4 Christmas 1969

Our steno, Janice Armitage, and Garry Fitzpatrick, on their wedding day, in August. Operator Ches Henry at Control Centre.

Found in our generator file, this picture shows two former CRP superintendents, Otto Christensen and Rees Davis, visibly happy at completion of installation of seventh power unit.


CONGRATULATIONS to the Neil Adam family on the birth of a daughter, Maureen, on May 23rd; also to Dam Attendant at Whitesand, Fred Ulriksen and wife, on the birth of a son, Stirling, on August 18th.

Our steno, Janice Armitage, decided it was time to settle down and her choice was Carry Fitzpatrick of the Smelter Department and the Flin Flon Fire Department. The wedding took place in St. Peter's Anglican Church on August 16th. The honeymoon was spent at the Lakehead. We wish them many happy years together.

We have only one employee left who has not taken on the bonds of wedlock. His statistics will be given upon application.

It has been a busy year at Island Falls. One of the jobs on the way to completion was the installation of hydraulically operated gates at "A" dam. These gates are set in at the bottom of the openings in the dam, and stop logs are piled on top of them up to the level of the river. They operate like louvres and with the flick of a switch can be adjusted to increase or decrease the flow through the dam. This does away with the arduous task of putting in and removing stop logs.

The annual overhaul of all the units was completed in October.

The biggest assignment, however, was the installation of the solid state silicomatic exciters on units 4, 5, 6 and 7. For the benefit of those who, like the writer, know little about generating electricity, we gained the following information:

The exciters were formerly installed on top of the generators and revolved on the generator shaft. The new exciters are a comparatively recent invention and are set apart from the generator. They have no motion as the name implies, but work on the principal of the transistor.

A Merry Christmas to all. The Tom Willey family,
at Island Falls (some 17 years ago).

The current from the exciters is fed to the field poles on the generator rotor, which is whirling around on the generator shaft. This current creates a strong magnetic field which is passed by induction to the stationary stator opposite the field poles. The current created then goes to the transformers, where the voltage is greatly increased for transmission purposes over about 60 miles of line, then through more transformers to cut the voltage down to required levels.

Within a small fraction of a second after leaving the generator, the power is available for both industrial and domestic use, including the cooking of that roast, the Christmas goose or turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas tree lights, and for a myriad other purposes.

We are a modest bunch at CRP, but sometimes we wonder how Santa ever got along without us!