Visit the Jean‑Lesage hydropower generating station (Manic‑2)!

Côte‑Nord, QC

Reservations and practical information

Aerial view of Jean‑Lesage generating station (previously Manic‑2) and the Rivière Manicouagan

A free and original outing in the Côte‑Nord region!

I used to be called Manic‑2, but now everyone calls me the Jean‑Lesage generating station, in honor of the politician. It is thanks to him that Hydro‑Québec was given the mandate to develop and operate hydropower sites not yet under concession to private interests. I’m often complimented on my majestic appearance. Come see for yourself! You’ll have a wonderful day, during which:

  • You’ll see a 400‑tonne rotor turning at 120 rpm above your head.
  • You’ll feel the energy generated by eight generating units.
  • You’ll see a large hollow‑joint gravity dam*.
  • And, of course, you’ll learn about the main components of a state‑of‑the‑art hydropower facility in the company of our competent and lively guides.

At the Georges‑Dor building, you’ll also get to see an exhibition on the technology that revolutionized electricity transmission around the world, the 745‑kilovolt power line. It's captivating!

* A gravity dam uses its mass to withstand water pressure.


Feast your eyes!

Have a look at these pictures to get a sneak peek of your guided tour.

Did you know?

View of the Georges-Dor reception centre.

We’re no longer lonely at Manic!

Si tu savais comme on s’ennuie… [If you only knew how lonely it gets] In 1966, Georges Dor wrote his hit song La Manic, evoking the life of a worker exiled at the Manic‑5 generating station construction site. Originally, the song was called Complainte de la Bersimis, naming the construction site where he worked. Since 2005, my visitors can tour the Georges‑Dor building, named in his honor.

A group observes generators undergoing maintenance at Jean-Lesage generating station.

800 elephants at work

I have eight generating units, each weighing as much as 100 elephants! With my 1,229‑megawatt (2022) capacity, I can supply a city of 250,000 people like Longueuil or 12 cities like Baie‑Comeau.

The generating station's spillway and former log chute.

Niagara Falls times two

My spillway can discharge 5,560 m3 of water per second, if needed. Quite the shower!

Downstream view of the illuminated dam and generating station at night.

14 giraffes

My hydropower facility is home to one of the largest hollow‑joint gravity dams in the world. You could stack 14 giraffes in the height of its seven largest hollow joints!

The generating station's spillway and former log chute.

A monument to log driving

Until 1992, a log chute built into my dam bore witness to the era of log driving on the Rivière Manicouagan. Close to 700 cords of logs passed through it per hour.

Some images are from the Hydro‑Québec Archives.


My history

Located 20 kilometres from Baie‑Comeau, I’m the first of the eight generating stations that make up the Manic‑Outardes hydropower complex to have been built. I’m one of the proud symbols of the Quiet Revolution and the result of the daring visionaries of the time.

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

From 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: Prelude to great technical feats

Daniel Johnson Sr., Minister of Hydraulic Resources at the time, 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 city of Québec and Montréal metropolitan areas.

1965: A line worker finalizes the construction of the first 745‑kV line‑a groundbreaking innovation of the 20th century.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1960: Beginning of the Quiet Revolution in Québec

1961: Construction begins

Six years of hard work were necessary to build the facility’s generating station, spillway and dam. Concrete had to be continuously poured to erect the structures. Huge heated enclosures were built to keep the temperature between 7 and 15°C, the ideal temperature for pouring concrete.

The hollow‑joint gravity dam uses its mass to retain water. At 94 metres high and 692 metres long, it is the second largest hollow‑joint gravity dam in the world.

Aerial view of the hydroelectric facility and the generating station nearing the end of construction.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

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

1963: Second phase of electricity nationalization in Québec

1965: My commissioning

I was commissioned in 1965. I have eight generating units equipped with Francis turbines and an installed capacity of 1,145 MW. Because it was fed by two rivers, the Manicouagan and the Toulnustouc, it took only six months to fill the 158‑km2 reservoir.

Dignitaries in front of a control panel when the generating station was commissioned.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1965: A technological breakthrough and world first: 745‑kV lines

The year 1965 was marked by great achievements. On November 29, 1965, the first 745,000‑volt transmission line was commissioned, linking the Manic‑Outardes complex to the city of Québec and Montréal. The technology was tested with electricity generated at Manic‑2.

Recognized as Québec’s greatest technological innovation of the 20th century and used all around the world, 745‑kV high‑voltage lines were invented by Jean‑Jacques Archambault, one of the first French‑speaking engineers at Hydro‑Québec. They remain the best means of transporting large amounts of electricity over long distances.

Workers on a 745‑kV line over the Fleuve Saint-Laurent (St. Lawrence River). Breathtaking!

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1967: Montréal’s Expo 67

2010: New name as a tribute

On June 22, 2010, at a time when everyone called me the Manic‑2 generating station, I became the Jean‑Lesage generating station as a tribute to the father of the Quiet Revolution. This peaceful revolution profoundly changed the social, economic and political face of Québec. Hydro‑Québec’s head office in Montréal is also named in Jean Lesage’s honor.

Jean Lesage, Premier of Québec from 1960 to 1966, during the inauguration Hydro-Québec's head office.

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 group walks to the Georges-Dor reception centre.

Discovering a wonder thought up, created by human beings is a gift. A great big thank‑you to everyone for their friendliness and their knowledge.

Very, very interesting! Even better than I expected! The guides are motivated and considerate towards tourists and visitors.

Very good guide, very instructive and lively tour. Thank you.

A tour guide outside Jean-Lesage generating station.

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 90 mins

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

Tour schedule

From mid‑June to the end of August

Tour times
Daily at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (reservations required)

Suggested itinerary to visit two generating stations in the same day

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

To do so, take the 9:00 a.m. tour of Manic‑2 and the 3:30 p.m. tour of Manic‑5.

School tours

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

Contact information

Jean‑Lesage Generating Station (Manic‑2) – Interpretation Center
Kilometre 20, route 389 Nord
Baie‑Comeau (Québec) G4Z 0A7

Tel.: 1 866 LAMANIC (1 866 526‑2642)(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!)

Accessibility

The tour of the generating station is on foot and includes about 20 stairs. It is partially accessible to people with reduced mobility.

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!

Services

  • Picnic tables

  • Free parking

  • Souvenir shop
    (Cash only)

  • Restrooms

  • Campground

Directions

The tour begins at the interpretation center, near the generating station.

From Baie‑Comeau, take route 389 to the 22nd kilometre. The entrance is just before the bridge that crosses Rivière Manicouagan.

Note: Certain GPS navigation systems direct you through Chemin Rex Fort and Chemin de la Scierie. Although this route leads to the Jean-Lesage generating station (Manic‑2), it is not recommended, as it is a gravel road and there are no signs.

Your best option: Start your navigation system once you get to Baie‑Comeau.

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

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, the Jean‑Lesage hydropower generating station

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

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