Visit La Grande‑1 Hydropower generating station!

Eeyou Istchee Baie‑James, QC

Reservations and practical information

La Grande‑1 generating station and spillway

Energy in the making in the heart of the boreal forest

For most people, Baie‑James is synonymous with three things: wide‑open spaces, the boreal forest and large hydropower projects. You probably remember hearing about the construction of one such project, the La Grande complex, which took place from 1970 to 2000.

I’m less powerful than my four sisters, LG‑2, LG‑2A, LG‑3 and LG‑4, but I’m still the second most powerful run‑of‑river generating station (after Beauharnois) and the seventh most powerful in Québec, all categories combined.

To build me, 640,000 cubic metres of concrete were needed, enough to build a sidewalk from Montréal to Miami. That’s a lot!

Would you like to tour a huge hydropower facility? Come see me turbine the waters of the Grande Rivière before it flows into Baie James (James Bay). And feel free to ask my guides all your questions. Their knowledge is almost as vast as the territory surrounding me!

You can continue your excursion with a visit to Chisasibi, the nearby Cree community, and soak your feet in the waters of the bay. Truly refreshing!

Feast your eyes!

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

Did you know?

Aerial view of the Grande Rivière and retaining structures.

First or seventh?

I’m the seventh hydropower generating station to be commissioned at the La Grande complex. Are you wondering why my name is La Grande‑1? Quite simply because we generating stations are named according to our position in relation to river’s mouth, not our chronological order of construction. So, I’m the first on the river up from the bay.

People inside a turbine shaft.

200 kilometres per hour!

Each of my twelve generating units’ rotors spin that fast! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect speed limits on the road! 😉

View of Upichiwin belvedere.

Upichiwin, a meeting place

In the Cree language, upichiwin means a place where a rapid narrows. The Upichiwin belvedere is a meeting place that commemorates one of the coastal Crees’ oldest and most used summer fishing sites.

1991: Céline Dion's voice rings out in the heart of the taiga, in the Baie-James.

Stars in Baie‑James

  • Before becoming a singer, Paul Piché was an archaeologist. During the 1970s, he participated in a dig in Baie‑James.
  • Guy Laliberté wanted to work in Baie‑James to pay for his studies in nuclear engineering. A strike prevented him from doing so. A few years later, he created the Cirque du Soleil.
  • In 1991, Céline Dion sang in an inflatable amphitheater for the inauguration of La Grande‑2‑A generating station.

My history

I’m a powerful run-of-river generating station located 45 minutes from Radisson, on the way to the Cree village of Chisasibi. I’m also the last generating station in the La Grande complex to turbine the river’s water before it flows into the bay.

1960: Beginning of the Quiet Revolution in Québec

1963: Second phase of electricity nationalization in Québec

1971: The “project of the century” is launched

In April 1971, Premier Robert Bourassa launched the “project of the century” in Baie‑James. One year later, the rivers that would be used were chosen: the La Grande and Eastmain rivers. Then, the huge construction sites needed to build the La Grande hydropower complex were opened. It now supplies nearly 50% of Québec’s electricity!

Robert Bourassa and Robert-A. Boyd, President of the Société d’énergie de la Baie James from 1972 to 1976 and President and CEO of Hydro-Québec from 1977 to 1981.

Source: Hydro-Québec Archives

1976: First time the Parti Québécois is elected

1987: Work on phase 2 of the La Grande complex begins

I was to be built during the first phase of work on the La Grande complex, but, in 1978, Québec’s energy needs weren’t growing fast enough to warrant continuing the work. It was decided that the cofferdams would nonetheless be built and the bypass canal excavated.

In 1988, 10 years later, my construction began. Imagine the size of the construction site! More than 6,000 people worked there. Given the tight schedule, much of the work had to be done during the winter, and the conditions were very difficult.

The Cree village of Chisasibi being close to the site, many sports tournaments and cultural events were held there for workers and community members. The LG‑1 construction site had even elected a mayor in order to foster a community spirit!

1991: Workers at the LG-1 construction site.

Source: Hydro-Québec Archives

1995: I’m commissioned

I was finally commissioned between 1994 and 1995. To build my 330‑metre‑long and 27.5‑metre‑high dam, more than 400,000 m3 of structural concrete, 290,000 m2 of formwork and 19,000 tonnes of reinforcing steel were needed. My construction cost $2.5 billion, $300 million less than expected.

Aerial view of the La Grande-1 hydroelectric development in the winter.

Source: Hydro-Québec Archives

2015: Upichiwin belvedere is inaugurated

Near me you’ll find the Upichiwin belvedere, which was built in collaboration with the Chisasibi cultural center. The site commemorates traditional fishing in Upichiwin, where large numbers of Chisasibi Crees would gather to fish. The first rapids of the Grande Rivière were just in front of where the belvedere now stands. Seine‑net fishing was practised there, among other fishing techniques.

View of the spillway from inside Upichiwin belvedere.

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.

Visitors inside a turbine shaft at La Grande-1 generating station.

There are seven wonders of the world. Has anyone thought of counting Baie‑James as the eighth?”

Excellent tour! Good balance between the technical information and historical facts.

A good tour experience all along. Clean, well‑maintained facilities. My congratulations.

A group participating in a guided tour inside the generating station.

Reservations and practical information

At a glace

Free admission

Reservations are required at all times and must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

If the date you would like to visit is less than 48 hours away or if you have special needs (someone in your group wears a pacemaker or has reduced mobility, etc.), please call us at 1 800 291‑84861 800 291‑8486.

Length of tour

About 3 hours, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Visitors must arrive 15 minutes in advance to sign in.

Tour schedule

From mid‑June to the end of August

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

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

La Grande‑1 Generating Station – Interpretation Center
Route de la Longue Pointe
J0Y 2X0

Note: Visitors must use their vehicles to get to the LG‑1 generating station.

Tel.: 1 800 291-84861 800 291-8486 (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 from the generating station’s interpretation center, but it includes stops, a 0.5‑km walk through the generating station and one flight of stairs.


  • Not accessible to people with reduced mobility
  • Offers one or more services for people with impaired vision
  • Offers one or more services for people with impaired hearing

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!


  • Free parking

  • Souvenir shop at Radisson only

  • Restrooms


Directions are provided at time of booking.

For additional information

Book your tour!

Free admission

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

To reserve a free guided tour in English, please call 1 800 291‑84861 800 291‑8486.
Get in touch by email.

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