Grand River Conservation Commission fonds

Grand River Conservation Commission.
Grand River Conservation Commission fonds. - 1931-1990, predominant 1938-1966.

16 m of textual records.  

View full finding aid of Grand River Conservation Commission fonds (PDF)

The Grand River Conservation Commission was the first watershed management agency in Canada when it received its formal Letters Patent in August, 1934. This was the first time local municipalities had banded together to address water management issues on a watershed scale. The founding partner municipalities were Brantford, Galt, Kitchener, Fergus and Caledonia. William Philip of Galt was the first chairman, and the Commission's head office was in Brantford. Other municipalities soon joined the partnership.

At this time, governments were interested in large-scale public works projects to provide employment and contribute to the economy. The federal government’s National Employment Commission supported a proposal for a dam across the Grand River. In 1938, the Ontario and federal governments each agreed to contribute 37.5 per cent of the project and the municipalities covered the remaining 25 per cent. A second Grand River Conservation Commission Act was passed by the province that year to broaden the mandate of the commission so it could manage the construction project.

In 1942 the Commission completed the Shand Dam near Fergus, the first dam in Canada built for flood control, water supply and water quality purposes. This was followed by the Luther Marsh Dam in 1954 and the Conestogo Dam in 1958. The Commission also planted more than two million trees on their land and undertook some of the province's first large scale reforestation projects.

The success of the Commission, its watershed scope and municipal partnership model led to the Guelph Conference on Conservation in 1941, and the Conservation Authorities Act of Ontario in 1946. This new act led to the creation of 36 conservation authorities across the province. In fact, the commission supported the creation of the Grand Valley Conservation Authority in 1948 and the two organizations — the GVCA and GRCC had the same chair, William Philip of Galt. They amalgamated in 1966 to form the present day Grand River Conservation Authority. (Source: Janet Baine, The Grand, Spring 2009, 2009_spring_grand_web.pdf; and GRCA website

Records were transferred from the storage room at the Shand Dam office at Belwood Lake where they had been stored for a number of years. The Commission moved its head office from Brantford to a building on the Shand Dam property in 1961 (File 313, clippings).


Fonds consists primarily of records relating to the operation and activities of the Grand River Conservation Commission from 1938 to 1966, mostly records maintained by successive secretary-treasurers, but including some chairman's files (William Philip), and operations files. Includes a wide range of documentation, including correspondence, financial records, minutes, personnel records, reports, maps and plans and environmental monitoring records. Documentation includes construction of the Shand and Conestogo Dams, property acquisition and management, relations and interactions with municipalities and government departments at the provincial and federal levels, flood management and monitoring, implementation and management of health care, unemployment insurance, provincial and federal taxes, rental and leasing of cottage lots and other properties, reforestation and nursery operations, management of motor vehicles and other equipment.  Includes approximately 75 files in the Operations series dating from 1967 to 1990.

Fonds is arranged in 15 series:

  1. Administration : Board Minutes : Secretary-Treasurer's Files.
  2. Administration : Chairman's Files : Wm. Philip.
  3. Administration : Financial.
  4. Administration : Financial : Accounts : Conestogo.
  5. Administration : Financial : Accounts : Salvage and Other.
  6. Administration : Financial : Accounts : Shand.
  7. Administration : Manager's Files : Ilmar Kao 1958-1959.
  8. Administration : Secretary Treasurer's Files : 1938-1941 : F.P. Adams.
  9. Administration : Secretary Treasurer's Files : 1942-1960 : E.F. Roberts
  10. Administration : Secretary Treasurer's Files : 1960-1966 :Ilmar Kao Operations.
  11. Operations : H.A. Cameron Files.
  12. Operations : Monitoring Records.
  13. Luther Marsh : Biological Area Data Records.
  14. Operations : Conservation Areas : Luther Marsh : Wildlife
  15. Priority Woodlots.


  • Title from content of the fonds.
  • The extent is measured in linear metres of shelf space occupied by the fonds.
  • Fonds is not complete; it would appear that the records lacking are from the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Donated by the Grand River Conservation Authority in 2005.
  • Material created by the GRCC is also found in the Grand River Conservation Authority fonds (GA 183), and the Grand River Conservation Authority fonds : accruals (GA226). Marcel Pequegnat fonds (GA 188) contains files created by Pequegnat in his position as vice-chairman of the GRCC dating from 1938 to 1943. GA 188 includes correspondence from secretary-treasurers and and files of correspondence with H.G. Acres, Chief Engineer concerning construction of the Shand Dam, as well as progress photos of the construction of the Conestogo Dam, 1955-1957 and some of the Shand Dam construction.

Call number: GA 184

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