EASTMAIN'S DEATH BY DIVERSION IN 1979

For the Crees of Eastmain, the river was a life-supporting artery, a highway linking them to their traditional hunting territories, the places that sustained them.

The lower Eastmain River died when the river was diverted, as part of the James Bay Project, into Sakami Lake so the water could flow north to feed the new hydro-electric dams on the La Grande River (formerly Ft. George River). What followed was a staggering cultural and economic upheaval wrought on the Crees of Eastmain and Ft. George (today Chisasibi) of northern Quebec. 

Photo: Eastmain River before diversion Conglomerate Gorge on the lower Eastmain River, flowing freely before the 1979 diversion of 100 per cent of its flow.

 

 

Photo: Heb Evans, 1968

Photo: Eastmain River after diversion

Conglomerate after the diversion. You can now walk across the old bed where the rapids rumbled and waterfalls tumbled.

Photo: Brian Back, 1991

In the top photo, the Crees' portage was along the right shore from where this photo was taken. The bottom photo was taken from the bridge that was built in 1972 for the project's construction.

Map: Eastmain River diversion

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