Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility

Visit the world’s largest underground generating station and be swept away by the awe-inspiring northern landscape.

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Come visit the world’s largest underground generating station

Head up to Baie-James (James Bay)! At the end of the road, you’ll find 7,722 MW of power-generating capacity and splendid northern vistas.

Look up at the towering dam—as high as a 53-storey building! Marvel at the “giant’s staircase” with 10 enormous steps, each the size of two football fields!

No matter where you look, you’ll be amazed by the gigantic scale of this imposing site.

You’ll love it, for sure!

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Did you know?

Gigantic!

Each of the spillway’s 10 steps is as big as two football fields. It’s fittingly known as the giant’s staircase.

10,000 litres

That’s the amount of water each of the planet’s inhabitants could draw from Robert-Bourassa reservoir before it ran dry.

53 storeys

Robert-Bourassa dam is as tall as a 53-storey building. That's a lot taller than the skyscraper at 1 Place Ville-Marie in Montréal, which only has 43 storeys. And what a view!

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Question from: Huguette, Repentigny

Answer from: Frédéric, tour guide at Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility

Why is the spillway at Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility like a staircase?
The spillway is like a staircase to slow the water and prevent erosion. It can channel 16,800 m3/s, slightly more water than the Fleuve Saint-Laurent (St. Lawrence River) beside Québec’s capital city!

Question from: Pierre, Chibougamau

Answer from: Raphaëlle, tour guide at Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility

How fast do the generating units at Robert-Bourassa spin?
They run at a constant speed of 133.33 rpm! That’s more than two revolutions per second! So, if you were standing on the edge of the rotor, which is 12 m in diameter, you’d have to run 302 km/h to stay in the same spot!

Question from: Daniel, Chicoutimi

Answer from: Frédéric, tour guide at Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility

How big is Robert-Bourassa reservoir?
Robert-Bourassa reservoir covers 2,835 km2. That’s almost three times the area of Lac Saint-Jean.

Follow the guides!

Our guides know what they’re talking about. They’ve been specially trained to make sure you have a rewarding experience that meets your expectations. They’ll be delighted to tailor your tour to match the goal you have in mind and the profile of your group.

Our interactive educational tours are full of facts and most of them are fun for the entire family. Don’t be shy about asking questions: our guides are very knowledgeable. Your curiosity will be satisfied!

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School tours

School tours

Plan a field trip to Baie-James (James Bay): an unforgettable experience! Whether it’s for a science, geography or history course, or a special school project, your students will discover things on site that they could never learn otherwise. Pick a date!

Schedule and practical information

Maximum number of visitors

Maximum of 50 people per visit, including students and escorts.

Supervision

These are the recommended ratios for adults accompanying groups:

  • Ages 9 to 12: 1 adult for every 1 to 10 pupils
  • Ages 13 to 17: 1 adult for every 1 to 20 pupils

For safety’s sake, teachers and accompanying adults must remain with their charges throughout the tour and help the guides.

Combo

Two for one

Take full advantage of your trip to Baie-James (James Bay). Depending on the time of year, you could combine your tour of Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility with a visit to La Grande-1, a run-of-river generating station about an hour’s drive from Radisson. You could also seize the opportunity to visit Robert A. Boyd Park, an exploration camp that has been recreated to show living conditions of the first workers at what was to become the La Grande complex. The park is open to groups from mid-May until the end of September.

Our guides can tell you more about all the attractions in the region.

Pre-visit preparation

Age-appropriate tours

Tours of Hydro-Québec facilities are an excellent complement to the Québec Education Program. They reinforce the acquisition and development of several competencies in the areas of math, science and technology, social science and more.

Broad Areas of Learning

  • Personal and career planning
  • Environmental awareness and consumer rights and responsibilities

Areas of learning and competencies

  • Science and Technology: Competency 1, 2 and 3
  • Social Sciences: Competency 1 and 2

Essential knowledge related to competencies

  • Material World: Energy, Forces and Motion, Systems and interaction, Appropriate language
  • Earth and Space: Energy, Appropriate language
  • Knowledge related to the organization of a society in its territory: Québec society around 1980
  • Knowledge related to change in a society and its territory: Québec society between 1905 and 1980

Broad Areas of Learning

  • Personal and career planning
  • Environmental awareness and consumer rights and responsibilities

Areas of learning and competencies

  • Science and Technology: Competency 2 and 3
  • Social Sciences: Competency 1

Topics

  • History of the La Grande complex
  • Hydroelectric power generation
  • Generating electricity through electromagnetic induction
  • Power transmission
  • Operating a generating unit
  • Tour of a turbine shaft
  • Structural characteristics (dams, dikes)
  • Reservoir and run-of-river generating stations
  • Managing water for use in more than one station
  • Ecology and the environment (wildlife, plants and the taiga)
  • Regional geography
  • Native culture: Cree and Inuit
  • The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement

Complements the following programs

  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Engineering programs

Topics

  • History of the La Grande complex
  • Hydroelectric power generation
  • Generating electricity through electromagnetic induction
  • Power transmission
  • Operating a generating unit
  • Tour of a turbine shaft
  • Structural characteristics (dams, dikes)
  • Reservoir and run-of-river generating stations
  • Managing water for use in more than one station
  • Ecology and the environment (wildlife, plants and the taiga)
  • Regional geography
  • Native culture: Cree and Inuit
  • The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement

We tailor the tour to suit your needs.

Topics

  • History of the La Grande complex
  • Hydroelectric power generation
  • Generating electricity through electromagnetic induction
  • Power transmission
  • Operating a generating unit
  • Tour of a turbine shaft
  • Structural characteristics (dams, dikes)
  • Reservoir and run-of-river generating stations
  • Managing water for use in more than one station
  • Ecology and the environment (wildlife, plants and the taiga)
  • Regional geography
  • Native culture: Cree and Inuit
  • The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement
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It’s gigantic. You have to see it once in your life.

Visitors’ comments

Read more comments
Remarkable guide, nice, competent, explained things very clearly. She made me want to tour other Hydro-Québec facilities.
Very interesting and rewarding tour. A lot of information on many subjects related to the generating station. Greatly appreciated.
It’s worth the long drive.
Impressive facilities!
An extraordinary visit. Bravo!

Schedule and practical information

Schedule and practical information

Admission

Free

Schedule

Year-round

From June 10 to August 31, 2014

Daily tours in French at 1:00 p.m. except Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. English tours by appointment.

From September 3 to mid-June

Tours in French Monday at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. and Friday at 8:30 a.m. English tours by appointment.

Reservations required 48 hours in advance

Length of tour

3.5 hours

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What you should know

ID card

ID required

Visitors aged 18 years and over must present official photo ID (medicare card, driver’s licence or passport) to tour a facility.

Free guided tours

Tours are led by qualified, dynamic guides.

Time of arrival

Tours start at set times. You should be there 15 minutes in advance.

Age

For safety reasons, tours are not recommended for children younger than two.

Clothing

Flat, closed shoes are recommended.

Accessibility

The tour is by bus, but includes stops with some walking and climbing steps.

Notice to pacemaker users

Notice to pacemaker users

The electromagnetic fields in power plants may disrupt pacemaker operation. As a precaution, pacemaker users will not be allowed during the part of the guided tour that takes place in the generating station.

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Services

  • Free parking
  • Gift shop
  • Partially accessible to persons with a physical impairment
  • Restrooms

Information and reservations

1 800 291-8486

E-mail

Reservations required 48 hours in advance

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How to get there

Robert-Bourassa Generating Facility

Complexe Pierre-Radisson
66 Des Groseilliers
Radisson, Québec
J0Y 2X0


* Transportation by bus from Radisson
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Other sights in the area

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