Fonds SCA206-GA184 - Grand River Conservation Commission fonds.

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Grand River Conservation Commission fonds.

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16 m of textual records

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Administrative history

The Grand River Conservation Commission was the first watershed management agency in Canada when it received its formal Letters Patent in August, 1934. This was the first time local municipalities had banded together to address water management issues on a watershed scale. The founding partner municipalities were Brantford, Galt, Kitchener, Fergus and Caledonia. William Philip of Galt was the first chairman, and the Commission's head office was in Brantford. Other municipalities soon joined the partnership.

"During the Depression, the federal and provincial governments were more interested in helping people by providing government relief. But the tide was turning: governments were thinking about large-scale public works projects that would provide jobs and help the economy. The federal government’s National Employment Commission supported a proposal for a dam across the Grand River. By April 1938, the province and federal government had each agreed to contribute 37.5 per cent of the project. This left the municipalities to cover the remaining 25 per cent, an amount they could manage. This was divided among the municipalities differently based on tax assessment and benefits such as water supply, flood protection and sewage disposal. A second Grand River Conservation Commission Act was passed by the province in 1938 to broaden the commission’s responsibilities so it could manage the construction projects."

In 1942 the Commission completed the Shand Dam near Fergus, the first dam in Canada built for flood control, water supply and water quality purposes. This was followed by the Luther Marsh Dam in 1954 and the Conestogo Dam in 1958. The Commission also planted more than two million trees on their land and undertook some of the province's first large scale reforestation projects.

The success of the Commission, its watershed scope and municipal partnership model led to the Guelph Conference on Conservation in 1941, and the Conservation Authorities Act of Ontario in 1946. This new act led to the creation of 36 conservation authorities across the province. In fact, the commission supported the creation of the Grand Valley Conservation Authority in 1948 and the two organizations — the GVCA and GRCC had the same chair, William Philip of Galt. They amalgamated in 1966 to form the present day Grand River Conservation Authority and are the two founding organizations of the Grand River Conservation Authority.

Custodial history

Records were transferred from the storage room at the Shand Dam office at Belwood Lake where they had been stored for a number of years. The Commission moved its head office from Brantford to a building on the Shand Dam property in 1961 (File 313, clippings).

Fonds is not complete; at least one weeding exercise had been carried out in the past to make space; it would appear that the records lacking are from the 30's and 40's.

Scope and content

Fonds consists primarily of records relating to the operation and activities of the Grand River Conservation Commission from 1938 to 1966, mostly records maintained by successive secretary-treasurers, but including some chairman's files (William Philip), and operations files. Includes a wide range of documentation, including correspondence, financial records, minutes, personnel records, reports, maps and plans and environmental monitoring records. Documentation includes construction of the Shand and Conestogo Dams, property acquisition and management, relations and interactions with municipalities and government departments at the provincial and federal levels, flood management and monitoring, implementation and management of health care, unemployment insurance, provincial and federal taxes, rental and leasing of cottage lots and other properties, reforestation and nursery operations, management of motor vehicles and other equipment.

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Donated by the GRCA in 2005.


Arranged in 15 Series:
1. Administration : Board Minutes : Secretary-Treasurer's Files.
2. Administration : Chairman's Files : Wm. Philip.
3. Administration : Financial.
4. Administration : Financial : Accounts : Conestogo.
5. Administration : Financial : Accounts : Salvage and Other.
6. Administration : Financial : Accounts : Shand.
7. Administration : Manager's Files : Ilmar Kao.
8. Administration : Secretary Treasurer's Files : 1938-1941 : F.P. Adams.
9. Administration : Secretary Treasurer's Files : E.F. Roberts.
10. Administration : Secretary Treasurer's Files : 1960-1966 : Ilmar Kao.
11. Operations. - 1947, 1955, 1971-1990.
12. Operations : H.A. Cameron Files.
13. Operations : Monitoring Records.
14. Luther Marsh : Biological Area Data Records. - 1979-1983 (36 folders, file 1268-1303);
15. Operations : Conservation Areas : Luther Marsh : Wildlife
Priority Woodlots. - 1979-1980 (21 folders, file 1304-1324).

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Associated materials

Material created by the GRCC is also found in the GRCA fonds, GA 183, including its complete set of formal minutes, some records created by Ilmar Kao and H.A. Cameron, as well as some early environmental monitoring records.

GA 188 contains files created by Marcel Pequenat during his time as vice-chairman of the GRCC dating from 1938 to 1943, years that are not well represented in this fonds. GA 188 also includes correspondence from secretary-treasurers and and files of correspondence with H.G. Acres, Chief Engineer concerning construction of the Shand Dam, as well as progress photos of the construction of the Conestogo Dam, 1955-1957 and some of the Shand Dam construction.


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