Canada’s extensive river systems and abundant supply of fresh water make it one of the world’s largest producers of hydroelectricity. This clean, renewable source of energy is fundamental to the country’s power supply, contributing significantly to its efforts to combat climate change.
In this article, we’re going to cover the top 7 hydroelectric dams operating in Canada:
Robert-Bourassa Generating Station – Quebec
Located on the La Grande River, the Robert Bourassa facility stands out as the largest hydroelectric power station in Canada. Named after former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa, the station boasts an impressive 7,722 MW capacity.
The facility is best known for its gigantic underground powerhouse and the “Robert-Bourassa Reservoir” which is one of the world’s largest bodies of stored water. Needless to say, it’s capable of servicing up to 38 turbines which generates enough electricity to power millions of homes.
Churchill Falls Generating Station – Newfoundland and Labrador
Churchill Falls Generating Station is one of the largest underground powerhouses globally, with a generating capacity of 5,428 MW. Situated on the Churchill River in Labrador, this facility has been operational since 1971.
The majority of the electricity generated here is transmitted to Quebec, following a long-term agreement that significantly contributes to the interconnected North American grid.
James Bay Project – Quebec
The James Bay Project, which is a series of hydroelectric power stations on the La Grande and Eastmain rivers, is one of the world’s largest hydroelectric systems, with the first of its many dams operational since the mid-1970s.
While each generating station within the project contributes significantly to the total output, the combined generating capacity stands at over 16,000 MW.
Mica Dam – British Columbia
Located 135 kilometers north of Revelstoke, British Columbia, Mica Dam stands on the Columbia River and is one of the largest earth-fill dams in the world. With a generating capacity of 2,805 MW, it’s a key contributor to the province’s electricity supply.
Notably, the dam’s construction dates back to the 1970s, and it’s named after the nearby community of Mica Creek.
W.A.C. Bennett Dam – British Columbia
The W.A.C. Bennett Dam on the Peace River is an integral part of BC Hydro’s hydroelectric generation system. Completed in 1968, it’s known for creating one of the world’s largest reservoirs, the Williston Lake.
The dam boasts a capacity of 2,730 MW, and its construction was a seminal event in the history of British Columbia which opened the northern region to more development and infrastructure.
Daniel-Johnson Dam – Quebec
Also known as Manic-5, the Daniel-Johnson Dam is the world’s largest multiple-arch-and-buttress dam, located on the Manicouagan River. It supports the Manic-5 and Manic-5-PA powerhouses, which have a combined capacity of 2,596 MW.
The dam was named after Daniel Johnson, Sr., the Quebec premier who died hours before the dam’s inauguration. Its unique architectural design makes it a marvel in civil engineering.
Site C Dam – British Columbia
The newest addition to this list, the Site C Dam is located on the Peace River near Fort St. John. It’s the third dam on the Peace River which contributes to a hydroelectric generation project that’s been ongoing since the late 1960s.
Although it’s faced considerable controversy and opposition from environmental and Indigenous groups, the project, completed in 2025, has an installed capacity of 1,100 MW, playing a significant role in the province’s future energy security.
Canada’s top hydroelectric dams are crucial to the nation’s energy portfolio, collectively contributing tens of thousands of megawatts to the national grid. These projects reflect the country’s investment in renewable energy sources, acknowledging the need for sustainable and eco-friendly electricity.
However, they also underscore the importance of carefully considering environmental and social impacts, as the quest for clean energy continues.