Maintained by Hydro Quebec, which operates an electric generating station fed by a retaining pond about ten kilometers above Canyon Ste.-Anne, Les Sept Chutes turned out to be similarly dramatic, far less developed and more sparsely visited. A graded dirt road leads off the main road and down to the visitors’ center, lodged on the ground floor of the manager’s house. A pipeline brings water down the kilometer-long pipeline linking the retaining pond to the generating station, while the rest of the river is allowed to tumble down five steep falls through a narrow canyon and then through two gentler cataracts below. A well-maintained hiking trail winds up to the dam and back, six kilometers in all. The portion we walked led along the cliff, then close to the pipeline, past some posters describing the function of various pieces of equipment and other aspects of the generating operation, and through sun-dappled forest that smelled like Christmas trees. Near the interpretive center are former worker housing and other buildings reflecting what life was like here way back in the 1950s, when Les Sept Chutes was relatively isolated. Without being heavy-handed about it, Les Sept-Chutes does a commendable job of combining an industrial purpose with environmental stewardship and recreational and educational opportunity.
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