Visit Manic‑5 generating station and Daniel‑Johnson dam!

Côte‑Nord, QC

Reservations and practical information

Aerial view of Daniel‑Johnson dam and the reservoir on the Rivière Manicouagan

A not‑to‑be‑missed free activity in the Côte‑Nord region!

A grandiose symbol of Québec ingenuity

As you may know, my fame extends beyond Québec’s borders, and that’s easy to explain! I’m the emblematic flagship of a project that fascinated the entire world: the largest multiple arch‑and‑buttress dam in the world. I command respect! Montréal’s Place Ville Marie could even fit inside my main arch.

Walking within my arches, at my foot or on my crest is thrilling and inspires great pride. Come discover me in the company of my guides, who are known for their extensive knowledge and engaging tours.

You’ll also go back in time to learn about my historic jobsite, and those of Manic‑5 and Manic‑5‑PA generating stations.

You’ll tour Manic-5 or Manic-5-PA, two of the generating stations built near me. Together, they have an installed capacity of 2,660 MW, making them the third most powerful of Hydro‑Québec’s generating stations. Not bad, eh?

A sneak peek!

Have a look at these pictures for a hint of what your guided tour has in store for you!

Did you know?

Ongoing work in the headrace tunnel and at the junction of the Manic-5 penstocks.

Driving in the dark—not so easy!

During construction of Manic‑5‑PA generating station, underground lighting was poor. It was easier for heavy truck drivers to stick close to the access tunnel’s rock wall. This is why vehicles drive on the left-hand side inside the tunnel, which has become the norm for all underground generating stations.

1965: Important concrete work underway at the dam.

From the North Pole to the South Pole

Daniel‑Johnson Dam has 2.2 million cubic metres of concrete, enough to build a sidewalk from the North Pole to the South Pole.

Live screening from the Manic-5 construction site in an Expo 67 pavilion.

On the big screen

In 1967, during Expo 67, the construction of Daniel-Johnson dam and Manic‑5 generating station was broadcast live. Visitors to the Québec Industries pavilion could view the concreting work on a giant screen.

Satellite view of Manicouagan reservoir and Île René-Levasseur.

Out of the blue

An asteroid that hit the Earth 214 million years ago created the immense crater that is now Manicouagan reservoir. Also called the “eye of Québec,” it is about 100 kilometres in diameter.

Workers eating in the Manic-5 cafeteria.

4,200 eggs

The equivalent of 350 dozen eggs was needed to prepare breakfast for the workers on the construction site every day!

Some images are from the Hydro‑Québec Archives.

My history

A testament to Québec engineering, Daniel‑Johnson dam has dominated the Manicouagan valley since 1970. With its 13 arches and 14 buttresses, it is the largest arch‑and‑buttress dam in the world. Its construction site and the Manic‑5 hydropower facility marked the history of electricity in North America. Here’s an overview.

1939–1945: World War II

1944: First phase of electricity nationalization in Québec

1955: Study of the hydropower potential of the Manicouagan‑Outardes hydropower complex

In the early 1950s, Hydro‑Québec assessed the hydropower potential of the Manicouagan and aux Outardes rivers in the Côte‑Nord region and planned the construction of new generating stations to meet the growing demand for electricity in Québec.

Map of the Manicougan‑Outardes hydroelectric complex.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1959: The adventure begins

Daniel Johnson, Sr., then‑Minister of Hydraulic Resources, launched the project to develop the Manicouagan and aux Outardes rivers. This was the prelude to a great adventure: The government-owned corporation performed a series of technical feats to tame these northern rivers and transmit high volumes of energy over several hundred kilometres to supply major consumer markets in the Québec and Montréal metropolitan areas.

Québec Premier Daniel Johnson visiting Manic-5.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1960: Beginning of the Quiet Revolution in Québec

1962: Maîtres chez nous! – Election of Jean Lesage’s Liberal Party

1962–1968: A gigantic construction site

The Manic‑5 hydropower development’s construction site quickly became the largest in North America. Work on the huge dam with 13 arches and 14 buttresses only progressed six months a year, during the warmer months, because pouring concrete requires temperatures between 7 to 15°C. To make up for the time lost in winter, the jobsite operated 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, thanks to a permanent lighting system. More than 12,900 employees worked to build the facility. At the height of the work in 1964, there were 3,500 people working there.

Night view of the dam under construction.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1963: Second phase of electricity nationalization

1964–1977: The Manicouagan reservoir is filled

The reservoir took many years to fill! It covers an area of approximately 2,000 km2, twice that of Lac Saint‑Jean, and is 200 km long, the same as the distance between Baie‑Comeau and Manic‑5 generating station. At the foot of the dam’s main arch, openings let the water pass through the dam to discharge it downstream. They made it possible to regulate the reservoir’s water level to prevent it from rising higher than the structure under construction. A certain flow of water was needed to supply Manic‑2 generating station’s first generating units, commissioned in 1965. With this ingenious system, Hydro‑Québec was able to build the dam and fill the reservoir at the same time.

Workers watching the gate opening in the dam’s main arch.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1967: Montréal’s Expo 67 is held

The magnitude of the work at Manic‑5 was such that it made people tremendously curious. To satisfy their curiosity, the decision was made to broadcast the construction live during Expo 67 in an exhibition hall in the Québec Industries pavilion. The general public was thus able to see the progression of the work and the workers on the construction site.

Attentive audience members during a live screening of construction work in an Expo 67 pavilion.

1968–1969: Inauguration of the dam

The inauguration of Manicouagan‑5 dam was scheduled to take place on September 26, 1968, but the day before the event, Daniel Johnson, Premier of Québec, died of a heart attack on the site of Manic‑5. The ceremony was postponed for a year to the day, to September 26, 1969. The dam is now named Daniel‑Johnson dam to commemorate the man who had launched its construction 10 years earlier, in 1959.

The famous handshake between Jean Lesage, Daniel Johnson and René Lévesque the day before the inauguration of the dam.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1971: Work is completed

Manic‑5 generating station was commissioned and began supplying the Québec population with energy. However, this didn’t mark the end of construction at the Manic‑Outardes complex. The last of its construction sites closed in 1978. It took almost 20 years to build the complex’s many facilities, and thousands of people worked on the project.

Aerial view of the Manic-5 generating facility and its dam, which represent iconic symbols of hydropower throughout the world.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1980: Construction of Manic‑5‑PA generating station begins

Another particularity of Manic‑5 is that a second generating station, an underground one, was built there: Manic‑5‑PA. “PA” stands for puissance additionnelle (additional capacity), in reference to the fact that the generating station was originally built to meet the increased demand for electricity during winter peak periods.

1969: The progress made regarding the construction work at Manic-5 generation station and the surge tanks.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1989: Work is completed on Manic‑5‑PA generating station

When it was commissioned, Manic‑5‑PA generating station had four generating units and an installed capacity of 1,064 MW.

1987: Work in the penstock in the Manic-5-PA underground generating station.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

It’s well worth the trip!

Don’t take our word for it: this is what the people who visited the generating station with our guides had to say.

A couple has their photo taken in front of Daniel-Johnson dam.

A really enjoyable tour. It’s magnificent! The guide really knows his history and is enthusiastic about sharing it.

A very rewarding visit! Human ingenuity truly knows no limits. Magnificent!

Incredible! It’s a colossal achievement, pure and simple. Thank you for the very well guided and much appreciated tour.

Children in front of a schoolbus under one of the arches of Daniel-Johnson dam.

Reservations and practical information

Visitors aged 18 and over must present official photo ID.

(Accepted ID: health insurance card, driver’s license or passport)

At a glance

Free admission

Reservations are required at all times and must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

Length of tour

About two hours

Tours start at set times. We recommend that you arrive 15 minutes in advance.

Tour schedule

From mid‑June to the end of August

Would you like to visit two generating stations in the same day?

With proper planning, you can tour Manic‑5 generating station and Daniel‑Johnson dam, as well as Jean‑Lesage generating station (Manic‑2), less than 2 hours 30 minutes away, in the same day.

To do so, take the 9 a.m. tour of Manic‑2 and the 3:30 p.m. tour of Manic‑5.

School tour

Looking for original tours featuring science, history and technical know‑how? Hydro‑Québec’s got just the ticket!
Check it out!

Contact information

Daniel‑Johnson Dam and Manic‑5 Generating Station – Interpretation Center
Kilometre 214 of Route 389
Rivière‑aux‑Outardes (Québec) G5T 2T2

Tel. : 1 866 LAMANIC (1 866 526‑2642) (toll free), between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.Tel. : 1 866 LAMANIC (1 866 526‑2642) (toll free), between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Get in touch by email.

How to get there

Know before you go
(yes, really, it’s important!)


The tour is by bus, but includes stops where you’ll walk and climb some stairs.

Minimum age

The tour is suitable for adults and school‑aged children but is not recommended for children under the age of two, for safety reasons.

Pacemakers and other medical implants

Electric and/or magnetic fields may disrupt operation of pacemakers, implantable automatic defibrillators and processors in cochlear implants. As a precaution, visitors with these types of medical implants may not participate in the part of the tour that takes place inside the generating station.

Those with a neurostimulator must temporarily stop the device before entering the generating station. If they are unable to stop the device, they are advised not to enter.

For regular tours, there is no risk of interference for insulin pumps.

What to wear

Visitors must wear flat, closed‑toe shoes and the safety gear provided (hard hat, safety glasses and headphones) inside the generating station.

Part of the tour takes place outdoors, so dress accordingly!


  • Picnic tables

  • Free parking

  • Electric vehicle charging stations

  • Souvenir shop
    (Cash only)

  • Restrooms


The tour begins at the generating station’s interpretation center. From Baie‑Comeau, take route 389 to kilometre 214.

Please note that it is forbidden to park recreational vehicles on Hydro‑Québec property overnight. You may not use the Manic‑5 interpretation center parking lot or the Daniel‑Johnson lookout parking lot to park overnight.

Charging stations

The Manic‑5 generating station now has four charging stations to meet your charging needs: one 100‑kW, another at 50‑kW and two 24‑kW charging stations.

IMPORTANT: Given the weak cell phone reception in the area, make sure to bring your Electric Circuit member card to charge your vehicle.

For additional information

Book your tour!

Free admission

Reservations are required at all times and must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

Reserve, to visit the Daniel Johnson installation and Manic-5

For any other information, call us at 1 866 526-26421 866 526-2642.
Get in touch by email.

Tour Rallies

Try one of our two rallies while you’re on the premises, either before or after your tour.

  • “The Manic-5 story” (for adults and teens).
  • “A concrete quiz” (for children aged 6 to 12).

It’s easy! Download the Tour Rallies app, choose a rally, then have fun taking the quiz! (Psst! The answers to all the questions can be found in the permanent exhibition at the interpretation center.)

The Tour Rallies app on a cellphone.
Ce lien mène à l'extérieur du site d'Hydro-Québec. Ce lien mène à l'extérieur du site d'Hydro-Québec.