The Hull-2 Power Plant
At the Chaudière Falls
In 1888, George N. Rowe of Quebec City bought the land where the Hull-2 Power Plant now stands from the Quebec Ministry of Lands and Forests, which had acquired it from the heirs of Ruggles Wright.
Built in 1912-1913 for the Gatineau Power Company by engineer William Kennedy Jr., the design was influenced by the latest architectural trends. The building reflects Louis Sullivan's theory that form should follow function, and the use of concrete on the exterior walls was a new departure. Concrete had been used initially for foundations, and then for horizontal divisions (upper floors) and interior vertical walls, partitions and utility rooms, which were often built of structural concrete. Exterior walls were generally brick or stone, as in the Hull-1 Power Plant. Buildings with a reinforced concrete exterior were the exception. The Hull-2 Power Plant and the E. B. Eddy Power Plant, built at the same time, are cases in point. They are both examples of historicist industrial architecture, in that, in spite of their concrete exteriors, they have clear historical stylistic references, such as pilasters and entablatures.
The Hull-2 Power Plant did not begin operating until 1920, because the original plans involved the installation of three 6750 KW units using Smidt turbines, made by the German company Voight, in Heidenham. The installation of the first two turbines was not quite finished when the First World War broke out and the German technicians, now enemy aliens, were interned in the Hull prison. As a result, it was necessary to wait until 1920 before these two turbines were put into operation.
A third turbine, from Boving Hydraulics and Engineering Co. Ltd. of Lindsay, Ontario, went into operation in 1923. Everything functioned smoothly until 1940 when major repairs were made to the turbine pits. In 1943, three transformers were added at the front of the power plant, forcing the company to remove its electrical sign from the roof.
In 1965, after Gatineau Power was purchased by Hydro-Québec, major repairs were made to the concrete pillars, and a fourth turbo-alternator unit was added in July 1968. This unit was a Kaplan turbine, a tubular turbine on a horizontal axis, the only one of its kind in the Chaudière hydroelectric complex and the first in Quebec.
There were workshops around the power plant, and a hangar on the north wall of the water intake. They were demolished in 1969. Hydro-Québec installed a crane in 1975 for the maintenance of the turbines, and an automated shutter system in 1986 to ventilate the room housing the alternators. Previously, ventilation had been provided manually by opening the windows on a pivot hinge. Some of the original electrical equipment was removed when the power plant was automated in 1986 and 1987.
For several years, people have requested access to the Chaudière Falls by passing near the power plant, which is always in operation. The government corporation has not yet acceded to this request.