Québec Hydro-Electric Commission (1944-1978)

From 1944 to 1978, Hydro-Québec was managed by five commissioners, with one acting as president. They opted for a collaborative management approach which proved particularly effective during the period of spectacular expansion the government-owned utility experienced from 1960 on.

Jean-Claude Lessard (1904-1971) was the first President of the company and held the position for nine years. The company benefitted from his rigorous approach to management. He took on the challenge of supporting a major technological innovation: 735-kV transmission. During this time, commissioner Jean-Paul Gignac (1922- ) also played a fundamental role, particularly with respect to francization of the company, the creation of a research institute (IREQ) and establishing a “contracting out” policy for engineering. This policy quickly led to the creation and rapid growth of consulting engineering firms in Québec.

Mr. Lessard's successor, Roland Giroux (1913-1991), was head of the company for eight years. A financial consultant for many Québec premiers during the 1960s and 70s, he played a key role in financing Hydro-Québec's purchase of the private electricity distributors in the early 60s. His vast knowledge of the financial industry proved especially beneficial to the company as it took on the most important and costly project of its history: the development of rivers in the Baie-James region.

Robert A. Boyd was the first francophone engineer to be hired by Hydro-Québec after its creation in 1944. He remained with the company for his entire career. As of 1960, he was involved in all of Hydro-Québec's major projects. The main player behind the integration of private distributors and electricity cooperatives, he climbed the hierarchical ladder step by step— all the way up to president. As CEO of Société d’énergie de la Baie James (SEBJ), he contributed greatly to the success of Phase I development of the Grande Rivière, in the Baie-James region.

From left to right: Jean-Paul Gignac, Roland Giroux, Jean-Claude Lessard and Robert A. Boyd