May 28, 2018 - Community Update: Conservation During Construction - Protecting Fish Habitat

Through investments in infrastructure, Parks Canada is protecting and preserving our treasured places, while supporting local economies, contributing to growth in the tourism sector, and enhancing the charm and attractiveness of Canada’s heritage sites. As a part of these important investments, Parks Canada will replace the dam at Scotts Mills Lock 19 in Peterborough.

Scotts Mills Dam at Lock 19.

The original Scotts Mills lock and dam at Whitlas Rapids were built between 1837 and 1844. From re-build to restoration, both dam and lock have seen many changes over the years, including the relocation of the original dam to its current downstream location.

While it is currently in the design phase, the new dam will respect the surrounding landscape, honour the history of Peterborough, and embody the evolution of engineering technology that is on display across the Trent-Severn Waterway. The new dam will also help to improve water management capability on the Otonabee River - mechanized steel gates will be installed, designed to eliminate leakage and make it both safer and faster for operators to make water level changes. In addition, the new dam will be the first step in creating a more publicly friendly lock station site, allowing access onto the dam itself once complete and acting as a gateway to Peterborough for boaters approaching from the South.

Hydro Generation

The new dam construction as a part of federal infrastructure funding does not include hydro development, though the dam will be constructed in a way that does not preclude a future hydro installation. An application for hydro development for the dam at Lock 19 has been received by Parks Canada. The proponent must first obtain a contract to produce energy from the Province of Ontario, as well as satisfy the requirements of Parks Canada and the community. These requirements include hydro generation that will not reduce the ability to pass water at the dam’s current capacity, as well as be mindful of the landscape, the natural environment, and the surrounding neighbourhood.

What we’re doing to prepare

Parks Canada is currently at the very early stages of the project. While discussions are taking place between Parks Canada and our consultants about the hydraulic capacity of various styles of dams, we’re working to provide them with all of the data required to design the new dam and the manner in which it can be constructed. For example, it’s imperative that the dam maintain the ability to pass water during construction, and Parks Canada’s water management team is involved in design discussions. In addition, in late November 2016 contractors began conducting in-water investigations that will help show us the topography of the bed of the river, and provide the depth of bedrock.

Parks Canada is working with partners at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), and with First Nations to ensure that appropriate protection and mitigation measures are in place to address our fisheries. Parks Canada conducted spawning surveys in 2016 according to OMNRF protocols and locations, and will expand our efforts in the spring of 2017. These investigations will serve to inform the Environmental Impact Assessment, and to focus the design and location of enhanced Walleye habitats - both designed to minimize the impact of the project.

The reconstruction of this dam poses a challenge due to its location in an urban area. Parks Canada has purchased three properties adjacent to the dam on the East side to create more space for construction staging. The buildings on these properties may be removed over the next year to prepare for the project. The use of these properties following the completion of the new dam has yet to be determined – Parks Canada will be engaging the community in discussions prior to construction in order to generate ideas and feedback.

We’d like to hear from you

Do you have positive stories about the lock or dam at Scotts Mills Lock 19, or their history? To share your stories with us, ask questions or express concerns, or to receive email updates about the project to replace the dam, please contact us at and include “Scotts Mills Dam” in the subject heading.


December 22, 2017 Community Update: Update on Construction
September 28, 2017
- Community Update: Removal of Buildings Adjacent to Dam