Brooks Aqueduct National Historic Site of Canada
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
8 km southeast of Brooks, off the Trans-Canada Highway, Brooks, Alberta
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1912 to 1914
1912 to 1979
Event, Person, Organization:
Canadian Pacific Railway
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: Kinbrook Island Provincial Park 8km southeast of Brooks, off the Trans-Canada Highway, Brooks, Alberta
The CPR built this reinforced concrete aqueduct between 1912 and 1914. It was part of a large irrigation scheme using water diverted from the Box River to transform 55,000 hectares east of Brooks from semi-arid rangeland to farmland suitable for settlement. A major engineering feat over 3.1 kilometres long, the aqueduct featured a catenary-shaped flume mounted on 1,030 columns, and an inverted syphon under the CPR main line. In 1935 the Brooks Aqueduct was turned over to the Eastern Irrigation District. With the completion of a larger replacement canal the aqueduct was abandoned in 1979.
Description of Historic Place
The Brooks Aqueduct National Historic Site of Canada is located in a shallow valley, five kilometres southeast of Brooks, Alberta. The Brooks Aqueduct is an impressive reinforced concrete structure over 3.1 kilometres in length featuring a large flume mounted on 20-metre high columns. The site also includes an inverted siphon, now filled to ground level with lean concrete, that carried water under the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) main line. Built by the CPR between 1912 and 1914 and originally used to bring irrigation waters to semi-arid soils, the reinforced concrete aqueduct is no longer in use. Official recognition refers to the footprint of the aqueduct, including its columns and inverted siphon.
The Brooks Aqueduct was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1983 because: constructed between 1912 and 1914 it was a major engineering feat, a reinforced concrete aqueduct over 3.1 kilometers in length featuring a catenary-shaped flume mounted on 1,030 columns, and an inverted siphon under the CPR main line.
The Brooks Aqueduct was constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) between 1912 and 1914 as part of an extensive irrigation project intended to make land in the south-eastern region of Alberta suitable for farming. The aqueduct transported water from Lake Newell and the Bow River across a shallow valley running north to south in order to facilitate the irrigation of 55,000 hectares of land in the area east of Brooks. The structure was a major engineering achievement, and features a catenary-shaped flume mounted on 1,030 columns, and an inverted siphon to carry water under the CPR main line. When the Brooks Aqueduct was completed in 1914, it was the largest aqueduct of its type in the world, reaching over 3.1 kilometres in length. Stresses on the concrete from the freeze-thaw cycle, however, caused a deterioration of the aqueduct, which required annual repairs. In 1979, sixty-five years after its inauguration, a more efficient and larger capacity canal replaced the aqueduct.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1983, September 2009; plaque text, 1989.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include: its location five kilometres south-east of Brooks, Alberta; its setting within a shallow, 3.1-kilometer wide valley; the catenary-shaped form of the flume set upon 1,030 20-metre high columns resting on pedestals sunk two metres into the ground, all constructed of reinforced concrete; the inverted siphon under the CPR main line in its reinforced concrete construction; any remaining elements of the inlet and outlet structures or interpretive buildings related to the Brooks Aqueduct within the designated place; viewscapes to and from the site across the shallow valley.