To understand the importance of this river trip one must understand the background and plight of the Romaine River. It is likely that starting next summer major construction of the first of 4 large dams will begin. The fate of the Romaine will be decided in the next few weeks in La Belle Province of Quebec. Public hearings begin October 27th in Havre-Saint-Pierre and opposition groups are still fighting to have meetings held in Quebec City and Montreal. There is a chance that the government of Quebec will scrap the project, but that chance is miniscule. Hydro Quebec has already spent millions in environmental assessments, propoganda campaigns supporting the project, and signing monetary compensation packages with the native communities living in the region.
The sole shareholder of Hydro Quebec is the Provincial Government. The corporation was nationalized in the 1960’s and has since been the largest revenue generater for Quebec. The Quebec Energy Strategy for the next 10 years calls for a “renewed and accelerated pace of hydroelectric development totalling 4500 MW to begin in the next 5 years.” It is a sad state of affairs for the the two largest remaining freeflowing rivers in Quebec. First is the Romaine, next is the Petit Mecatina. Hydro Quebec touts these projects as being lucrative export endeavours for the time being or until Quebec’s energy demand requires them to use the power for themselves. It is expected by the Northeastern states that this power will be available for the next 20 years at the low and stable rates. Regardless of the “plan” for the river we had an adventure ahead of us and selfishly wanted to get a piece of this place in its pristine state while we could….
We woke up to a calm morning and for the first time really had a chance to soak it in that we were well over 100 miles from the nearest road. We were looking at ~120 miles of river, four significant canyons and 1100 feet of gradient. The team was ready to rally and after some oatmeal coffee and a morning swim were were ready to see what kind of whitewater The Romaine held.
We traveled about 10 miles through some easy rapids and witnessed our first signs of man. We passed a gauge and knew we were at the point where dam 4 was going to be constructed. We charged on and entered the first canyon. It was full of heady, big rapids full of waves, ledges and holes. We were stoked to have the chance to run so many rapids. We didn’t portage a single drop in this canyon.
Enjoy this video of The Romaine River and for the full feature SUBSCRIBE HERE. Check back for the next 5 days of the Romaine River Trip. Likely the last one completed in its current free flowing state.