What should I expect at the guided tour?
The first part of the tour takes place in the former N.A.C. (Northern Aluminum Company) generating station, one of Canada’s first hydroelectric generating stations, which Hydro‑Québec has restored and transformed into an interpretation center.
This includes the following attractions:
- the generating station’s original penstock
- Hydro‑Québec’s industrial exhibition, featuring real turbine parts dating from the early 20th century
- a presentation of experiments on electricity
The second part takes place in Shawinigan‑2 generating station. Visitors can observe, among other things, 100‑year‑old generating units still in use by Hydro‑Québec.
Outdoors, visitors are invited to explore the remains of two old generating stations – Shawinigan‑1 and Alcan‑16 – and see how water is directed to the generating stations.
The N.A.C. and Shawinigan‑2 generating stations are part of the Cité de l’énergie, a unique museum complex that co‑founded by Hydro‑Québec.
When are the tours?
During the summer, there are lots of options: 11:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. The tours are generally given in French, for an English tour please call us in advance.
During the rest of the year, visits for school groups and other groups (15 or more people) can be arranged based on availability.
How long is the guided tour?
The tour lasts 90 minutes: 60 minutes in the interpretation center located in the old generating station, and 30 minutes in Shawinigan‑2 generating station.
Why can't we visit Shawinigan‑3 generating station?
The location of Shawinigan‑3 generating station is difficult to access due to its high elevation.
Visitors can see it from the Hydro‑Québec lookout tower at the Cité de l’énergie.
Does the entire tour take place indoors?
No. Approximately one third of the tour takes place outside.
In case of rain, make sure to dress appropriately and bring an umbrella.
Note: Some places outside do not offer much shade. In case of a heat wave, dress accordingly and bring water to stay hydrated.
How far do you have to walk during the tour?
The first part of the tour in the interpretation center requires walking approximately 200 metres. There is a stop if you need to sit.
For the second part, at Shawinigan‑2 generating station, there is an approximately 50‑metre walk. There are stops where visitors must remain standing.
You must also walk approximately 350 metres outside, between the N.A.C generating station and Shawinigan‑2 generating station, and between the generating station and the bus stop.
There are also two flights of stairs to climb.
Why can’t we visit Shawinigan‑2 generating station free of charge, like at other Hydro‑Québec facilities?
Tours at Shawinigan‑2 generating station are managed by Cité de l’énergie, a unique museum complex that co‑founded by Hydro‑Québec.
There are entrance fees for the entire site since Cité de l’énergie provides transportation to the generating station.
Note: Visitors are not allowed to go directly to Shawinigan‑2 generating station.
What topics does the tour cover?
Due to the rich built heritage of the Shawinigan hydroelectric complex, the tour focuses on the history of hydroelectricity (heritage tourism).
The Hydro‑Québec industrial exhibition, presented in the interpretation center, includes a demonstration of how we harness the force of water and transform it into electrical energy.
Some experiments help students and young visitors learn about the effects of electricity.
Is the tour accessible to people with reduced mobility?
The tour is partially accessible to people with reduced mobility.
The two buildings we visit during the tour have elevators. However, the tour is relatively long and takes place entirely on foot. It includes only one stop where people can sit to see experiments. The outdoor portion involves some inclines.
Are wheelchairs available for visitors with reduced mobility?
The Cité de l’énergie has several wheelchairs available, as well as a bus with a wheelchair lift.
Is the tour suitable for young children?
No, the tour is not suitable for small children. It is suitable for children of school age. For safety reasons, children under 2 are advised not to participate in the tour.
The tour includes a significant amount of walking and focuses on historical topics, generating station operations and some electricity concepts, which may not be appropriate for young children.
Is there a significant amount of walking during the tour?
Yes. You must walk during the entire tour. There is a 15‑minute stop to view experiments. There are also two flights of stairs.
What type of clothing should you wear?
Flat, closed-toe shoes are required.
In case of rain, make sure to dress appropriately clothing and bring an umbrella.
Why do I need to show identification to access the facilities?
This is a requirement of Hydro‑Québec’s corporate security management team to protect personnel, visitors and equipment.
Visitors aged 18 and over must present identification with a photo (driver’s licence, health insurance card, national ID card or passport) before they can tour Shawinigan‑2 generating station.
Are you allowed to take photos in Shawinigan‑2 generating station?
No. For safety reasons, it is prohibited to bring a camera or any other electronic device (cell phone, tablet, MP3 player, portable music player or computer) into the generating station.
However, you are permitted to take photos in the interpretation center (old N.A.C. generating station) and outside. People who wish to take a photo with their guide must ask for permission.
Visitors must leave their devices in a locked locker provided free of charge.
Are you allowed to bring a handbag or backpack into Shawinigan‑2 generating station?
No. Visitors must leave their personal belongings (purse, backpack, cell phone, bags, etc.) in a locked locker provided free of charge.
However, you are permitted to take photos in the interpretation center (old N.A.C. generating station) and outside.
Are water bottles allowed in Shawinigan‑2 generating station?
Yes. Visitors can bring a bottle of water into the generating station and the interpretation center (old N.A.C. generating station), but they must carry it at all times.
We recommend staying well hydrated, especially in the summer, as part of the tour takes place outside.
Can people with pacemakers visit Shawinigan‑2 generating station?
No. The electromagnetic fields in power plants may disrupt pacemaker operation. As a precaution, visitors with pacemakers may not participate in the part of the tour that takes place in the generating station. They are invited to participate in an outdoor presentation given by a guide instead.
At the interpretation center (old N.A.C. generating station), these people are prohibited from viewing the Van de Graaf electrostatic generator. Pacemakers are not a problem for the rest of the tour.
Are strollers or baby carriers allowed in the generating station?
For safety reasons, it is prohibited to bring a stroller or baby carrier into Shawinigan‑2 generating station.
At the interpretation centre (old N.A.C. generating station), strollers and baby carriers are discouraged, because some passageways are narrow.
Is there a restaurant or cafeteria on site?
No. There are no restaurants, cafeterias or vending machines at Shawinigan‑2 generating station or the interpretation center (old N.A.C. generating station).
However, visitors can purchase food at the Cité de l’énergie main pavilion.
Are there public washrooms on site?
Yes. There are washrooms for men and women in the interpretation center (old N.A.C. generating station).
At Shawinigan‑2 generating station, washrooms are available to children only in the case of an emergency.