Collection MS 43 A2024.000.015 - West Kootenay Power and Light Company Collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

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West Kootenay Power and Light Company Collection

General material designation

  • Textual record

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Reference code

CA RMDC MS 43 A2024.000.015

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1896-2001 (Creation)
    West Kootenay Power and Light Company

Physical description area

Physical description

1.2m of textual records
343 photographs
26 maps
9 Sub Collections

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

West Kootenay Power & Light (WKPL) was founded by Sir Charles Ross, who was a Scottish noble. Ross arrived in Rossland between 1895 and 1896 and was involved in the Centre Star Mine. He formed West Kootenay Power & light to supply power to the Centre Star Mine, and in doing so he received a charter to supply electricity to the entire West Kootenay region. WKPL was incorporated in 1897. The first plant built was the Lower Bonnington Plant (plant No.1), which was built between 1897 and 1898 on the Kootenay River.

West Kootenay Power & Light first supplied light in Rossland in 1898 on the south side of Columbia Avenue. To do this, 51.5 kilometres of powerline was built between Rossland and Bonnington. The No.2 plant was built to keep up with energy demands between 1905-1906, above the Kootenay River on the Upper Bonnington Falls. This dam was expanded in 1914 and in 1916. Later, WKPL bought the charter of the South Kootenay Power Company and then expanded into the Boundary County and supplied their mines with power. In 1907, the Cascade Power Company sold its assets to WKPL and gave them ownership of the Cascade Dam on the Kettle River. In 1916 the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company was anticipating the growing energy demands from the First World War bringing large zinc contracts, so they acquired WKPL as a wholly-owned subsidiary. To keep up with the greater electrolytic zinc operations at CM&S, a third dam, the South Slocan Dam, was built in 1928. A fourth dam, the Corra Linn was built 14.5 kilometres downstream from Nelson on the Kootenay River. In 1944 to meet CM&S’s power needs, a fifth power plant was built at the mouth of the Kootenay River, named the Brilliant Dam.

After WWII, CM&S wanted to connect their new Sullivan Mine operations in Kimberly to the electricity produced at the South Slocan Dam. The connecting powerline needed to cross Kootenay Lake, so WKPL completed the longest powerline span in the world at that time, measuring 3.4 km. CM&S hired a private contractor to build a dam on the Pend Oreille River, named the Waneta Dam. Construction was supposed to begin in the 1930s, but the Great Depression led to the project being abandoned until the 1950s.

Ownership of WKPL changed to the private, U.S.-based company Utilicorp in 1987. Ownership changed again in 2004, with FortisBC buying the business. Fortis has remained as the operation of the former WKPL dams ever since.

Notable personnel who worked at WKPL are Sir Charles Ross (1872-1942), the founder, Lorne Argyle Campbell (1871-1947), the General Manager, and J.D. McDonald (1874-1944), the General Superintendent.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The West Kootenay Power & Light Collection contains photographic and textual records from 1896-2001, and is arranged in the following order:

  1. Mission Statement
  2. Correspondence, 1897-2001
  3. Financial Records, 1898-1986
  4. Legal Records, 1898-1976, includes 7 bound books
  5. Petitions, 1901-1950
  6. Personnel
  7. Reports, 1898-1908
  8. Publications, 1908-1956
  9. Certificates, 1894-1921
  10. Maps, 1909
  11. Lists, 1896-1938
  12. Ephemera, 1934-2000
  13. Photographs
  14. Clippings, includes envelope of clippings related to the buyout of WKPL to Utilicorp, includes scrapbook.

Notes area

Physical condition


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Arranged according to RAD and institutional guidelines

Language of material

  • English

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    FindingAids are under development

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    Alpha-numeric designations

    BCAUL control number: RHM-1059

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    Description record identifier


    Institution identifier

    Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre

    Rules or conventions

    Arranged according to RAD and institutional guidelines



    Level of detail


    Dates of creation, revision and deletion

    Created: November 2009
    Revised: 26/07/2021; 3 April 2024

    Language of description

    • English

    Script of description


      Accession area