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Hydroelectric Power

Tagona Water & Light Co.

Michigan Lake Superior Power Company

Ontario Lake Superior Power Company


It had long been acknowledged that the key to the industrialization of Sault Ste., Marie rested with the development of the hydroelectric potential of the St. Mary’s River rapids. By 1894, the failed attempts by a private syndicate and then by the Town of Sault Ste. Marie to develop hydroelectricity resulted in little more than a partially collapsed power canal and minor power plant. What confronted Clergue, then, upon his arrival in Sault Ste. Marie was this partially completed hydroelectric installation, a diminishing population base and a lack of market for electricity even if the plant had been completed. From Clergue’s perspective, the hydro potential was the essential and active ingredient in the industrialization process. All he had to do was develop that hydro and industry would beat a path to his door.

Much to his disappointment, that didn’t happen. The completion of the power plant did not result in the anticipated influx of industry. It soon became apparent that the he would have to create his own markets for his hydroelectricity by creating his own industries.

An initial study of the natural resources of the area indicated that the most plentiful and most readily available resource was the spruce tree. Since spruce wood is useful in the production of pulp, Clergue decided to construct a pulp mill. Not only would the mill be a market for his hydroelectricity, it would also result in a saleable product which would help to offset the cost of constructing both the hydro installation and the pulp mill.