With the precipitous advance of winter and the consequent evaporation of our cycling outings we’ve chosen to go for short walks. It is by any standard a moderate exercise but nonetheless a refreshing one particularly on a day such as today; viz., pellucid sky and indescribably fresh air. After but a moments inhalation of the frosty atmosphere and the rejuvenating extension of my limbs and crippled ribs the erstwhile dormancy fizzled. Today’s adventure took us closer to home than the last one on the Ottawa River near Crystal Bay. Instead we conveniently visited another bay this time the one in Metcalfe GeoHeritage Park at the bottom of Bay Hill where stands the Brian J. Gallagher Generating Station on the Mississippi River here in town.
Owned and operated by the town of Almonte, the Brian J. Gallagher Generating Station (named after the former General Manager of Almonte Hydro who spent over 50 years with the company and was instrumental in the rehabilitation of the old station and the plans to construct the new lower falls station), came online on April 9, 2010, with a generating capacity of 4.6 Megawatts, nearly doubling the capacity of the old station. Running the station are two 1700mm Kaplan turbines (re-used from the old station) and two 2300 Kilowatt generators. At full capacity the station uses about 36 cubic metres per second (cms) of water. The station also sends approximately 2.2 cms over the middle falls weir for aesthetic purposes.
The park is closely associated as well with its antecedent proponent, Doc Metcalfe who resided in a grand home which stands to this day at the pinnacle of the falls on Coleman’s Island at the corner of Mary Street and Main Street not far from the original power house. By all accounts Doc Metcalfe was as dynamic a character as Brian J. Gallagher who pointedly has continued throughout his public and private avocations to lead the march of the community to recognizable improvement.
Though the park is noticeably more active in the summer and spring when the falls are especially uproarious there were yet several people gathered about the property today in spite of the freezing temperature. There are so many vistas to appreciate, a feature which predictably attracts both professional and amateur photographers. If one were feeling athletic there is the invitation to mount the staircase along the Riverwalk to continue adjacent the Mississippi River to the Old Town Hall.
The property for Almonte Old Town Hall was first purchased in 1884 for only $6000, and since then it has only been owned by the Town of Almonte. The building was erected in 1885 by contractor and architect George Willoughby, during the North-West Rebellion (or the second Riel Rebellion) of 1885.