Visit Première‑Chute hydropower generating station!

Abitibi‑Témiscamingue, QC

Reservations and practical information

Aerial view of Première‑Chute generating station on the Rivière des Outaouias (Ottawa River)

On a human scale

Like a number of other generating stations, I was built on the Rivière des Outaouais (Ottawa River), the longest river in Québec. I’m one of the few generating stations to be open to the public, as is Carillon generating station. Take advantage of this opportunity!

I’m located in the village of Notre-Dame-du-Nord, and my small size makes me the ideal place to introduce people to the transformation of water power into electricity.

During your visit, you’ll discover:

  • How our clean and renewable energy is generated
  • A generating station with a unique design
  • The history of Abitibi-Témiscamingue’s electrification

Don’t wait! Book your free tour now! My guides look forward to sharing their knowledge with you!

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?

1968: Installation of three clamshell gates at the spillway.

Useful and cute!

My spillway has clamshell gates— they open and close like eyelids! Their main advantage is that they look nicer than knife gate valves do.

July 1969: Workers building the generator.

Hydropower heavyweights!

Each of my four rotors weighs 123 tonnes, as much as 24 African elephants.

Aerial view of the city of Rouyn-Noranda.

A whole city!

With a capacity of just over 130 MW, I can supply a city like Rouyn‑Noranda (43,000 inhabitants) all by myself.

Logs ready to go through the log chute integrated into the generating station.

A monument to history

When I was commissioned, a log chute for log driving was built into my structure. Because log driving is a dangerous and polluting activity, its practise ceased in 1976. A monument to the region’s industrial past, the log chute has been preserved for its heritage value.

Some images are from the Hydro‑Québec Archives.

My history

Hydro-Québec began to serve the entire Abitibi‑Témiscamingue region following the second phase of electricity nationalization in Québec. When the decision was made to build me, the company already had two generating stations in the region, Rapide‑2 and Rapide‑7. But I’ve been the only generating station open to the public in Abitibi‑Témiscamingue since the 1970s. It’s quite the honor!

1960: Beginning of the Quiet Revolution in Québec

1963: Second phase of electricity nationalization in Québec

1964: Conversion of the Abitibi‑Témiscamingue system

Until the mid‑1960s, electricity was generated at different frequencies in Abitibi, which posed a problem for the region’s economic development. It was at this time that Hydro‑Québec decided to standardize its service throughout Québec. A vast operation to convert the power supply to homes began in 1964 and was completed the following year. A total of 425 people worked to convert 15,000 household appliances and 150,000 pieces of equipment from 25 to 60 hertz.

February 1965: Conversion of the frequency in Abitibi and in Témiscamingue.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1968: Commissioning

Built to meet the growing demand for electricity, I had three generating units when I was commissioned. Although modest in size and capacity, I turned out to be a veritable laboratory for Hydro‑Québec. Innovative technology never before tried in Québec was used to build me. For example, an Italian technique that involves using the force of gravity to pour concrete was used on sections of the dam’s foundation walls. It was a North American first!

November 1967: Construction is progressing at Première-Chute generating station.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1975: A fourth generating unit is commissioned

In the era of the Quiet Revolution, Québec businesses really took off. Hydro‑Québec embarked on the construction of new hydropower facilities, such as La Grande complex in Baie‑James. It was also working to improve the performance of its existing equipment. As a result, I was given a fourth generating unit.

A group outside the generating station.

Source: Hydro‑Québec Archives

1976: The Parti Québécois is elected for the first time

2009–2010: Facade refurbishment

My facade underwent major refurbishment that greatly changed my appearance. The red metal panels of my original curtain wall were replaced by gray “tympanum” panels, and my initial facade’s concrete was covered with white metal panels.

2010: The generating station's external building gets a new look.

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 tour guide with a group outside the generating station.

Each time I visit a generating station, I learn more about the development of one of Québec’s resources. Our guide was lively, knowledgeable and inspired by Hydro‑Québec’s mission.

I learned many things. It was very interesting. The tour guide was obviously very passionate about his job and was a real people person.

This is my sixth generating station. It’s always very interesting.

Children in front of an old turbine outside the 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 minutes

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:

From Wednesday to Sunday at 9:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. (reservations required)

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

Première‑Chute Generating Station – Interpretation Center
621, chemin Hydro‑Québec
Notre-Dame-du-Nord (Québec) J0Z 3B0

Tel. : 1 800 903-9705 ext. 3417200Tel. : 1 800 903-9705 ext. 3417200
(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 of the generating station is on foot and includes some stairs. It is partially accessible to people with reduced mobility.

  • Partially 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-age 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 (hard hat, safety glasses and headphones) provided to them to enter the generating station.

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


  • Picnic tables

  • Free parking

  • Proximity to a bike path

  • Partially accessible to people with reduced mobility

  • Restrooms


The tour begins at the generating station’s interpretation center. Here’s how to get there:

  • On Route 101, turn at the sign indicating “Visites guidées d’Hydro‑Québec” (guided tours).
  • Head towards the blue building, where a guide will welcome you.

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 Première Chute hydropower generating station!

For any other information, call us at 1 800 903-9705 ext. 34172001 800 903-9705 ext. 3417200.
Get in touch by email.

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