Description of Historic Place
Now a beautiful recreation and fishing area, Knox's Dam was once the site of the hydroelectric power plant which supplied the Town of Montague with electricity during the first half of the 20th century.
Knox's Dam is valued for its natural beauty; for the recreational access it provides to fishing on the Montague River; and for its historical association with the development of electrical power for the Town of Montague.
A section of the Montague River was dammed for use as a grist mill as early as 1852. The current location of Knox's Dam was once part of a farm owned by Donald Campbell. It was known in 1880 as Mount Pleasant Farm. His property was later sold to Charles Keith, who in 1901, sold it to Donald (Daniel) MacKenzie.
MacKenzie recognized the potential of the area for recreational and industrial use. He was a contractor and builder and after securing the water rights from those who owned land along the river, he built the first dam. He also had a boat house constructed on one side of the river to allow trout fishers to go onto the lake formed by the dam.
On March 8, 1907, the Montague Electric Company acquired the property and began generating hydroelectricity for the town and surrounding area. In 1917, the dam was expanded with 23 foot stone walls constructed. This enabled the plant to generate enough electricity to also supply Georgetown. In 1921, the plant only supplied electricity for five and a half days each week. The cost to customers was $5 per month.
The supervisor of the power plant lived in a house close to the dam. This is now a local bed and breakfast. When Robert K. Clements was the supervisor, he encouraged the expansion of the use of electricity and soon a new dam was needed on the south branch of the Montague River. This new dam came into operation in January of 1928, with the former dam remaining as a backup.
The Maritime Electric Company Limited assumed control of the plant in 1932. It continued to operate until 1955 when the turbine failed and was not replaced. By that time, Montague was receiving its electrical power from lines connected to the Charlottetown generating station.
In December 1956, the dam was purchased by the last supervisor of the site, William Knox. The site still bears his name to this day. In 1977, a fish ladder was installed to allow for the migration of the fish and help regenerate the recreational fishing in the area. This was encouraged by Gilbert Clements, the local MLA and Minister of Environment, and son of the former plant supervisor, Robert Clements.
Today, the site is enjoyed by locals and visitors as an important cultural landscape in the community of Victoria Cross.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/TR30
The heritage value of the site is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the location of the dam across the Montague River
- the remnants of the former power plant building
- the concrete walls of the dam
- the natural elements of rushing water combined with thick forest along the riverbank
- the signage, paths, and picnic tables on the site